The Almighty finally has His say

So it's goodbye from Tony and his friends, and it's goodbye from us, but not before some presents ar

Scene 1: Tony’s flat. Before he can be baptised he must make his first confession. He kneels before Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor.

Cardinal: My child, I am ready to grant you absolution. But 20 minutes have passed and you have not confessed a thing.

Tony: I'm still thinking.

Cardinal: If your sins are so awful that you tremble before them, remember the Lord's mercy is infinite.

Tony: No, I just can't think of a single one. Amazing. Stumped for words. Let's go through the main sins again - starting with gluttony.

Cardinal: Yes, my child.

Tony: Not guilty. That's more John Prescott. Next.

Cardinal: Lust.

Tony: Prescott again.

Cardinal: Sloth.

Tony: Ha! Prescott hat-trick. Next.

Cardinal: Envy.

Tony: Well, that's the whole of the ruddy Labour Party in a nutshell.

Cardinal: Avarice.

Tony: Not me, but my old friend Michael Levy might have a case to answer there.

Cardinal: Wrath.

Tony: That's more Gordon's thing. I mean, he's lightened up in the last fortnight but it won't last.

Cardinal: And finally pride.

Tony: Ah, yes. Guilty. I'm proud of my family. And my career. Keeps me upbeat. Hardly a sin. Look, if I haven't done anything wrong, let's skip the rest and do the baptism.

Cardinal: My child, have you never offended against the grace of Almighty God?

Tony: Looks like it. Why are you so surprised?

Cardinal: I fear you will need more hours of instruction before the Church is ready to receive you.

Tony: Oh God. Bloody hell. Can't we do the quick version - only there's a drinks thing at HarperCollins I'd like to drop in on.

Cardinal: God does not hurry such things.

Tony: Yeah, well, aren't we both forgetting something here? I'm a massive scalp for the Almighty, right? He needs me more than I need him, so make the most of it. The least you can do is bless my future mission.

Cardinal: Of course. And what is your mission?

Tony: Ending religious wars around the world.

Cardinal: The ones you've started, or the ones you've merely inflamed?

Scene 2: Downing Street. A dozen staff have gathered to listen to Cherie's farewell speech.

Cherie: Oh, God, I'm in floods already. This is going to be so emotional. For you, never mind me. We'll never forget you, Doreen, Mavis and, er ... I love you all and I want to gobble you all up. Now, the exchange of prezzies. You there, whatsyourname! [Points to a steward] With the long face. Cheer up, please, and bring that lot over.

The steward crosses to a pile of discarded freebies.

Cherie: OK, form a queue. [Doles out parcels] They're all labelled so if you get the wrong one just give it to the right person. Remember those confidentiality clauses haven't vanished just because we have. OK, that's the lot. I did say exchange of prezzies. Awkward silence.

Cherie: I see. Nothing for us. You miserable sods. That's gratitude for you. Gifts don't just materialise you know. It takes work. There are goodybags to ransack, bathrobes to snaffle, freebies to blag - all for nothing. Right, well, queue up again. I want every one of those lovely presents back. Come on. Keep 'em coming ...

Scene 3: Gordon's office. Harriet Harman enters.

Gordon: Ah, dreadful business about this "apology".

Harman: I've spent the whole week backtracking on that and I've got it under control.

Gordon: No, I have. Draft statement. Here.

Harman [reads]: "When I said 'stop these ridiculous excessive bonuses' I was, of course, referring to the salaries enjoyed by stars in the new Harry Potter film. I apologise if anyone thought I was talking about the City." No way will I put my name to this.

Gordon: You already have - in tomorrow's Times.

Harman: What? You're leaking already. What happened to "humble government"?

Gordon: This is it. You're humble. I'm the government.

Scene 4: Tony's office.

Cardinal: None can be baptised whose sins have not been absolved. Now, I just need a small sin. For example, have you ever told a lie?

Tony: Certainly not. How dare you?

Cardinal: Never? On your oath ...

Tony: God strike me dead if I have.

Cataclysmic thunder bursts over Downing Street.

This article first appeared in the 02 July 2007 issue of the New Statesman, The Brown revolution begins