Stalin's biographer signs new contract

Gordon begs Kylie to take a job, Hilary begs Gordon to give him a job and Cherie takes on a global j

Scene 1: The Treasury. Gordon is musing on the shape of his government.

Gordon: Mustn't forget Kylie, of course. Dear, sweet, brave little Kylie. Got to squeeze her somewhere. I mean squeeze her in somewhere. [Beat] Got it! Lady Minogue! Chief whip in the House of Lords – and roving minister for pert little bottoms. Ooh yes, I like that! Stop it, Gordon.

There's a knock at the door. Enter Hilary Benn.

Gordon: Sorry, do I know you?

Benn: Oh come on, Gordon. What's up?

Gordon: I want a government of all the talents, Hilary. Not a bunch of guilt-ridden toffs wringing their hands about "the poor".

Benn: That's totally unfair. My father wasn't well off. Well, not till he married an heiress . . .

Gordon: But it looks bad. You've been all over the papers. You own a quarter of a million in shares. You were brought up in Holland Park next door to Richard Branson. You've even got a girl's name. And if that isn't posh, I don't know what is.

Benn: Well, that's my dad's fault. I can't do anything about him.

Gordon: Nor could the Labour Party - for two bloody decades. Hilary, it's over.

Benn: Please, Gordon. I've been tipped for greatness in your cabinet. There must be some useless position I can have?

Gordon: Chancellor? Already taken, sorry.

Benn: Oh God.

Gordon: Goodbye, Hilary. Good luck.

Benn: I'd throw myself under a Virgin train, but it'd probably never come. Hey, could I write your biography?

Gordon: My agent's sending a guy over later.

Benn [weeping]: Oh no. What am I going to do with my life?

Gordon: Don't cry, laddie. It's not so bad. After all, you're a Notting Hill trustafarian with posh connections and a fake desire to "make a difference". I know somewhere you'd be right at home.

Benn: Africa?

Gordon: The Tories.

Scene 2: The Blairs' flat. Tony and Cherie are busy planning good works.

Cherie: Choose. The Cherie Blair Institute or the Cherie Blair Foundation?

Tony: Cherie Blair Foundation sounds like a face cream.

Cherie: It is a face cream.

Tony: Er, darling, I thought you were tackling poverty and disease.

Cherie: I am. And the fact is that even a starving peasant with TB wants her skin to look its best.

Tony: Have you gone mad?

Cherie: Of course not. Think about it. If you live in the third world and you've got a fatal disease you're an absolute celebrity magnet. [She flips through Grazia] Look, there's Justin Timberlake hugging a widow after her lung operation. There's Bono patting a female amputee. And there's John Prescott in Somalia giving an etiquette class at a women's refuge. That's where "Cherie Blair Dermatological Foundation Cream Pour Le Poor" comes in handy. No mud hut should be without it.

Tony: You might as well start selling ice cream while you're at it.

Cherie: Good idea. "Blair Whoppers". Do you think they'll go down well?

Tony: Mm. They didn't last time.

Scene 3: The Treasury.

Gordon: Even better, Lady Minogue as my first chancellor. She'd need a pretty firm hand on the tiller. Lots of late nights, licking the figures into shape, delicately handling the projected investment curves as they - Oh, who's that?

A balding man walks in.

Gordon: Do I know you?

Man: Simon Sebag Montefiore.

Gordon: Who?

Montefiore: Your biographer.

Gordon: Ah, excellent, yes. Tell me, who else have you written about?

Montefiore: Uncle Joe.

Gordon: Sorry?

Montefiore: Stalin. Two bestsellers. The public's appetite for tyrants has never been keener. Now then . . .

Gordon: What? They've sent me Stalin's biographer?

Montefiore: Keep your hair on. I thought everyone knew your nickname was . . .

Gordon: You snotty little pipsqueak. Get out!

Montefiore: Don't worry. It'll be fine. Everyone said I made Stalin seem surprisingly . . .

Gordon: Stop twittering and listen. You'll get nothing from me. No help, no access, no documents. All my friends will be under strict instructions to punch you in the face if you so much as telephone them.

Montefiore: Ooh dear. That's two contacts lost, then.

Gordon: And your piddling little book will get injuncted faster than you can say gulag.

Montefiore [scribbling]: Is that "gulag" with a capital "g"?

Gordon: What?

Montefiore: Looks like I'm writing the unofficial biog. It'll sell loads better than some rose-tinted eulogy by the arse-licker-in-chief. Hey. What? Don't touch me! Hey!

Gordon picks him up by the lapels and hurls him through the Inigo Jones window. Montefiore lands roughly on the pavement. He gets up, pulling splinters of glass out of his hair.

Montefiore: Cheers, Gordon! Great splash when it's serialised in the Daily Mail.

Gordon picks up the phone.

Gordon: Brown here. Get me that posh other one . . . I mean Hilary Benn. [A couple of bleeps] Hilary! It's Gordon. Now, about that biography . . .

This article first appeared in the 21 May 2007 issue of the New Statesman, New Leader, New Danger