Episodes VIII & 1X
Only five days now to the mighty battle between the forces of King Tony and the rebel leader Earl Hague, so let's have the Shakespearean take on it as provided by the ongoing Bardic saga
"The History of King Tony" (or "New Labour's Lost, Love").
The scene is a country road somewhere in Britain, in the late evening. Three commis witches are seated round the pot, doing fashionable designer spells.
1st Witch: Double, double, toil and trouble,
Let's turn Oldham into rubble!
2nd Witch: Double, double, toil and strife,
Who would be Lord Archer's wife?
3rd Witch: Double, double, strife and toil,
Let's put chemicals in the soil!
All: Gather round the cauldron now,
Let's prepare the evening chow!
1st: Tonight we're having stew of gander.
2nd: Let's put in some coriander!
3rd: Add some basil!
1st: Lemon zest!
2nd: Quite a little Deliafest!
3rd: And while the meal is on its way
We'll have a slug of Chardonnay!
As they clink glasses and cackle, there enter King Tony and Duke Gordon Brown, travelling alone.
1st: By the pricking of my thumbs,
Someone hungry this way comes.
2nd: Hungry for food?
3rd: Hungry for power!
1st: See one smile!
2nd: The other glower!
All: Round about the cauldron stoop
- Pretend to be a focus group!
King Tony: See yonder band of foul and midnight hags
Who stir their ghastly potions in the pot,
As if backstage down at the River Cafe!
Brown: Say nothing ill of them. They're all your subjects
And all are due your equal love and care,
As long as they pay taxes on the dot...
Tony: Then we shall stop and have a little talk...
Brown: But not with the one that looks like Kirsty Wark...
1st: All hail, King Tony, that shall be king again!
2nd: And after June 7th stay on to reign!
3rd: Thy people love thee, though they know not why!
1st: And nor do I!
2nd: Nor I!
3rd: And no more I!
Tony: Ha! I know why, for all this land doth prosper
Beneath my wise and careful stewardship.
The people feel a new prosperity,
A confidence abroad in all the land!
1st: Aye, so they do, but not because of thee.
2nd: One man alone does rule th' economy.
3rd: The money man they call Duke Gordon Brown....
All: The one beside thee with the sullen frown!
Who might succeed to Tony!
Brown: Shall I really?
All: Well, no you won't, not quite, but very nearly.
They vanish into thin air.
Tony: They brought great news of our future victory!
Brown: Aye, great for you, perhaps, but not for me.
Tony: Oh, come on, Gordon, try not to look horrid!
Relax that chin! Unline your stressful forehead!
To be a king is not within your style.
A king must smile, and smile, and smile, and smile...
Exeunt Brown fuming and Tony radiant. The scene changes to
to Regent Street, London. A man is selling Evening Standards.
Seller: Read all about it! We shall win, says Hague!
Or if we don't, they must not have a landslide!
We are the opposition now, says Kennedy!
All over bar the yawning! Load of cobblers!
Roll up, roll up, and buy the Evening Standard
For Victor Lewis-Smith if nothing else!
Enter Sir Peter Mandelson, followed by Sir Neil Hamilton, Sir John Townend, Sir Oliver Letwin, etc all selling the Big Issue.
Chorus: They seek us here, they seek us there,
In Millbank Tower, and in Smith Square,
But all their searches are bound to fail....
Buy the Big Issue! Big Issue for sale!
The scene changes to MAFF HQ, where everyone is throwing a final party, attended by Sir Nick Brown, Sir Douglas Hogg, Sir John Gummer, etc. A bureaucrat bangs the table for silence.
Speaker: Our revels now are ended. We've had fun!
We've led the country such a pretty dance!
We've snuggled up in bed to agribusiness,
We've done whatever ICI has asked,
We've grovelled to the makers of GM
And buggered up the farmers good and proper!
Not forgetting all the fishermen!
And now the party's coming to an end!
But we'll be back beneath a different name!
It may sound new, but we'll be just the same!
The chaps all exchange golden handshakes, while somewhere in Devon a farmer commits suicide.
Next week the great battle will be over, the victorious will be celebrating and the carts will be removing the dead and wounded. We shall be there to file the only report in blank verse, have no fear.
This time last week, Tony was King of Britain in Shakespeare's long-lost chronicle play, "The History of King Tony". Guess what? He still is! Let's find out how…
The mighty battle of June 9, which will decide the fate of Britain, has broken out all over the country. Enter the rebel leader, Earl Hague, with Don Portillo, his friend and successor.
Hague: Forward with Hague, though backward still from Europe!
Forget the Euro! Let us keep the pound!
Attack King Tony, till he falls defeated!
We shall reduce your taxes, then spend more!
Also hospitals, and schools, and railway trains...
He reels, exhausted. Don Portillo catches him.
Portillo: Alas, his mighty mind is near its end.
No longer do the words make sense, I fear.
He drives himself too hard to win this fight,
As if he knew that all is up for him.
This day upon the field will be his last,
His hour as leader now is ebbing fast...
Earl Hague revives.
Hague: Attack! Advance! Let's charge towards the foe!
That's the way to do it! Go, man, go!
He charges off madly in all directions. Portillo follows, shaking his head. The scene changes to the command headquarters of King Tony, where Tony is surrounded by his advisers (Sir Alastair Campbell, etc), his photographers, his minstrels, his hairdressers etc.
Tony: All over Britain now the war doth rage
Between our forces and the men of Hague.
From daybreak on, from Torbay to Carlisle,
Great bands of fighting men at arms come forth
To rally to our banner and our cause.
We cannot lose! The victory is ours!
Campbell: Why, this is true. The victory is ours.
But not the rest. These armies are a myth.
Of all the men and women who could march
To fire a loyal shot in your defence
Not one in four has left his home to fight!
Tony: Not one in four! Then where are all the rest?
And why have they not rallied to our cause?
Campbell: What cause is that? Where is your rallying cry?
Tony: You know it well! To all the world I say,
We have commenced, now let us carry on!
Campbell: O that is hardly fresh or new, my liege!
For did not old Sir Magnus Magnusson,
Th'exemplar of the learned questioner,
Say just the same: I've started, so I'll finish?
And you have fought a national campaign
With slogans borrowed from an old quiz show!
Tony: I shall ignore your supercilious barb,
For I have work to do on victory day.
That is to say, I must draw up my plans
To chop and change my ministers of state.
I have a mind to discard Sir Nick Brown,
But who instead shall I make head of farms?
Campbell: May I suggest Sir Peter Mandelson?
A farmyard job would suit him very well.
Not for the first time, he'd be in the shit!
Tony: I sometimes sense a vulgar streak in you.
Not suited to the highest in the land.
You too can be reshuffled, as you know!
Campbell: My Lord, I stand rebuked. I am at fault.
Tony: Then watch it. That is all I have to say.
Exit King Tony.
Campbell: O, I do hate him when he's in this mood,
Drunken with modesty, and humble to a fault
- A monster of humility, no less!
A limousine with black windows enters. It stops. A window is wound down. Duke Keith Vaz sticks his head out.
Campbell: Duke Vaz! Long time no see! All hail! What cheer?
Vaz: You have not seen me. I was never here.
The window goes up and the car moves on. The scene changes to another part of British battlefield, where Sir Charles Kennedy, Scottish freedom fighter, gallops in.
Kennedy: Those who like not Tony, nor Hague much more,
I offer you a cause worth fighting for!
Come, disaffected all, come follow me!
And sooner or late, we'll find an enemy!
He gallops off, followed by many men with ginger hair, specs and sandals. Enter Earl Hague with Lady Ffion.
Hague: And so at last our dreams are ended here!
For four long years we both have set our hearts
Upon the throne, and it was not to be.
I care not for myself, but you, my dear,
Will never now be queen, which grieves me hard.
He looks at her. Lady Ffion says nothing.
Hague: Right to the end, thou'rt silent as the grave.
For someone Welsh, you know how to behave...
Defeat doth mean I'll never wear a crown
And I must now resign.
Ffion: No! Not 'resign'! 'Step down'!
You are too grand for mere resignation!
Stepping down's a better designation!
Hague: You're right! I will step down! That sounds much better!
A letter of resignation? No! A stepping down letter!
And now it's time to sleep. Let's hit the pillow.
And later work out how to thwart Portillo.
A car with black windows enters. Window opens. Duke Keith Vaz peers out.
Vaz: Whoever you thought I was, then you are wrong.
I am not he. And now I'll push along.
The scene changes to King Tony's HQ. To King Tony, enter the man in the white suit, Sir Martin Bell.
Bell: King Tony, farewell ! I come to say goodbye.
No longer will I haunt you with my look
Betokening disapproval of your deeds.
I thought that Brentwood might become my base,
But no-one there did seem to like my face.
Tony: I shall not miss you, though your suit's resplendent.
Life's better with no watchful independent.
Enter Dr Richard Taylor, victor of Wyre Forest, in a white coat.
Taylor: Then know, King Tony, that there's one still here!
Your actions will be my study - have no fear!
Enter a car with dark windows. Duke Keith Vaz peers out.
Vaz: King Tony, give me a phone call later on!
Meanwhile, you never saw me. Now I'm gone.
Exeunt all but King Tony.
Tony: The battle may be won, but all in vain -
For here come my old troubles once again!
More of this next week, and maybe for five years thereafter...
The Independent Sat June 2 and June 9 01