Echoes of dissent in Albion's fair, fragmenting land

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The Independent Culture
TIME FOR another episode of the long-lost Shakespearian masterpiece, The History of King Tony or New Labour's Lost, Love, in which brave King Tony seeks to drag Britain from the 19th century into the 21st, trying not to lose Wales and Scotland in the process. At the moment he is embroiled in a war against King Slobodan of Serbia...

The scene is King Tony's command centre, where he is taking counsel with his chief General.

Tony: Now, General, tell me straight: how goes the


General: Not good, not bad. It could be worse,

I think.

Tony: Mince not thy words with me but tell me now

If we shall beat King Slobodan or no!

General: Wouldst thou have a straight and

honest answer?

You thought to knock some sense into the foe;

Instead of that, you've angered him until

His wrath has been directed on his folk,

These poor inhabitants of Kosovo,

Whose safety you did promise to the press.

Your bombs have made a true and holy mess.

Tony: Why did you never say this here before?

General: I did, my Lord. I warned you, straight

and blunt,

You would not hear me and you've paid for it.

Well, not exactly you, but all those folk

Who have been raped and killed and chased

From out their homes in far-off Kosovo -

Tony: How dare you talk like this to your young


Do you not know that all my British people

Stand right behind me in this mercy war!

Enter Harold Pinter.

Pinter: Not all! Oh, some of us will ne'er stand by

And see this murderous bombing in our name!

Tony: Why should I not indulge in this great fight?

Pinter: I'll tell you why not on Newsnight, late


When I shall get my own five-minute slot

To say why I am right, and you are not!

Tony: Who are you, tall dark stranger? What's your


Pinter: My name is Pinter. Playwriting is my game.

Tony: I should have known! You folk are all the


Like Sir Peter Hall, who ever and a day,

Begs me to support his latest play,

Whingeing and whining, asking for more cash...

Good Lord, is that the time? I needs must dash!

To Scotland I do go at this late hour

To give the Scottish back their long-lost power!

The scene is a campaign room somewhere in Scotland. Three campaign workers, Janet, Donald and Dougal, are groaning over their task.

Donald: Come voting day, the turn-out will be poor. I've been out knocking on many a voter's door

And everyone, from castle to tiny tent,

Says, Awa' wi' ye and wi' your Parliament!

Dougal: Would they rather stay back home, safe

in the warm?

Donald: It isn't that. It is the voting form

Which is so complex and so full of clauses,

The very sight doth make them sick and nauseous.

Janet: First tick your choice! Now tick the

other box!

Now fill in page three! And tick your second choice!

Go back three spaces, now please start again!

I've seen nothing like it since I don't know when!

Enter King Tony, in disguise.

Tony: All hail, good party members, how d'you do?

Donald: Good day.

Janet: Good day.

Dougal: Good day, and who are you?

Tony: I come from London, ganging my way up


To Edinburgh, on the bonny Firth of Forth.

Donald: So that explains your curious speaking


I've not heard speech like that for quite a while. Janet: From London, eh? With nail bombs going


No wonder you have fled...

Donald: ...and mad King Tony

Who condemns the bombers in Old Compton Street

And goes on bombing Slobodan himself!

Dougal: How can he justify this moral stance?

Janet: Come in, take off your coat and have a rest...

Tony:[Pulling disguise tighter round himself]

No, no, perhaps I won't. I think I will go on.

The rain is growing lighter. Here comes the sun.

More of this soon, I hope.