So, Dr Reid, you're with the terrorists?

Tony phones George to tell him about John, Gordon looks forward to Cherie's memoirs, while Roy recei

Scene 1: No 10. John Reid is swanning around Tony's office, basking in his newly won popularity.

Reid: And the master stroke was to pledge loyalty to you while distancing myself from George Bush.

Tony: Mmm. Perhaps you two should get to know each other. [Picks up the phone] Tony here. See if George Bush will take a call. Thanks.

Reid goes white.

Reid: Er, won't he be busy? Praying?

Tony: He's never busy. He's like me. Not much left he can do.

Reid: Ah, just remembered. Urgent meeting with my campaign team.

Tony: Oh don't panic. I'll chip in if anything tricky comes up. Like the communist business . . . [Beat] Is he? Terrific. Thanks. [Beat] Hi, George. Tony here. [Beat] Tony Blair. Prime minister. [Beat] Yes, Britain, that's right. Got a guy here who may be taking over from me. Thought you'd like a chat.

Bush: OK, friend. Put him on.

Reid takes a swig of Malvern water, clears his throat and grabs the phone.

Reid: Afternoon, Mr President. Dr Reid here.

Bush: Hi, friend. Blair tells me you're stepping into his shoes.

Reid: Maybe, it all depends.

Bush: I don't know anything about you but if Tony likes you that's good enough for me.

Reid: Well, I represent a Scottish constituency, I have a PhD in West African politics and I've worked with . . .

Bush: Friend, are you with us or are you with the terrorists?

Reid: Well, I tend to characterise the question in rather less starkly Manichaean terms than that.

Bush: Excuse me?

Reid: I feel the debate merits a more subtle and elevated tone.

Bush: So you're with the terrorists?

Reid: No, I'm with you, Mr President. Broadly speaking.

Bush: Great. So you want a stable Iraq?

Reid: Yes, with certain caveats . . .

Bush: And a new Afghanistan?

Reid: Yes, although . . .

Bush: A nuculer Iran?

Reid: No, but . . .

Bush: And a secure Israel?

Reid: Yes, as long as . . .

Bush: You're a good friend to America. Nice doing business with you.

[Click] Reid stares at the phone. He replaces the receiver.

Reid: Jesus. Is he always like that?

Tony: No, sometimes he's in a hurry and skates over the big issues.

Scene 2: A private house in Great College Street, SW1. With the Tories no longer ahead in the polls, Gordon Brown is in an upbeat mood and has called a meeting of his inner circle to which 150 MPs show up.

He enters to huge applause and makes his way to the front.

Gordon: Friends, plotters, countrymen. Well, if you read the papers, that's how I usually start these meetings. Looking around, I see the English in a majority here so a warm welcome to you all. Now, I think we can agree we've just enjoyed the most riveting conference since Neil Kinnock faced down Militant. [Cheers]

For me, the highlight was the unseemly contest between certain colleagues who are clearly desperate to be considered for . . . exclusion from my cabinet. [Laughter] I haven't quite decided who came out on top.

But Alan Johnson was terrific, wasn't he? Completely failed to deliver.

I was also impressed by Dr Reid who's been busy seducing the press and alienating the unions at the same time. Someone should tell him the Daily Mail isn't part of the electoral college. [Cries of "Don't bother"] Mind you I've got to hand it to him. He understands Catholic psychology so thoroughly that he's got Middle England behaving like a closed order of nuns. Every time he restricts their freedom they offer up a hymn of thanks. [Loud cheers]

And of course I couldn't leave you without mentioning our departing superstar, Mr Blair. [Ironic wolf-whistles] Statesman, freedom fighter and - this can't come soon enough - author. I'm not sure which I'm looking forward to most, Tony's memoirs, Cherie's memoirs, or the contest between them to win the Booker Prize for Fiction. [Cries of "Cherie! Cherie!"]

And we're all riveted by the prospect of Tony's peace mission to the Middle East. It'll be like watching Ron Atkinson trying to organise the Notting Hill Carnival. And one final thought. You know people keep asking me if I'm bothered that Tony completely overshadowed the conference. Well, he couldn't help it, could he? Everyone's shadow is enormous just before sunset. [Cheers]

And now, friends, I have with me my nomination papers for the leadership. I just need 44 volunteers to . . .

A tidal wave of MPs surges forward and overwhelms Gordon.

Scene 3: The House of Lords. Roy Hattersley receives a visit from a Special Branch officer bearing a parcel and an envelope.

Hattersley opens the envelope.

Hattersley [reads]: Dear Hatters, Thanks for getting my campaign off to a flying start. Hope the accompanying parcel proves useful, John Reid.

Hattersley opens it up. It contains a revolver with a Post-it note attached to the barrel.

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