King Tony and that cunning man, Jack Cunningham

King Tony: `There's no one in the Cabinet quite like you!' Cunningham: `That's true. I am not Scottish, Welsh or gay'
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SOME READERS have written to me requesting that we should have no more of the recently rediscovered Shakespearean tragi-comedy The History of King Tony, or New Labours Love Lost. Luckily, they are far outnumbered by the many who have written in begging for more of this lost masterpiece, so here we go again today with more tales of King Tony's rough ride upon the throne.

The scene is King Tony's court at the Palace of Westminster where every day he gives audience to men likely to agree with him. The King is deep in talk with Lord `Doctor' Jack Cunningham.

King Tony: How goes the world, my Lord Chief

High Enabler?

Cunningham: Why, fair as can expected be, my


The Cabinet of mighty minds you've picked

To run this blessed land of ours, Great Britain,

And turn it into paradise on earth,

Have caused me no great anxiousness of late.

Tony: You mean, they've toed the line and held their


Cunningham: They have, my Lord. Except for

Lord John Prescott,

Who says he has devised a cunning method

Of measuring the worth of government.

And also him they call Sir Geoffrey Robinson,

Paymaster-General at your royal command,

Who has so much money stuffed away abroad,

He often fails to call to mind the date,

The place, and the amount of his deposit.

Tony: Poor, poor Sir Geoffrey. When I knew him


His memory was sharp and clear as ice.

And now, you say, it starts to fade and go?

Cunningham: It does, my liege, though quite


And now the crowds do shout out in the


That Robinson himself should fade and go as well.

Tony: I give not a fig for what the crowds do say!

A tabloid rabble, sent by their Feet Street masters

To mouth such slogans as they feed them with.

What care I what the people think or say

Except to do the very opposite ?

Cunningham: You cared a lot when we were not

in power.

It was the people brought us victory

Enlisted in our cause 'gainst King John Major.

Do not shrug off the people's cunning strength -

You may need their support again ere long.

Tony: Good Doctor Jack, you're right, as usual!

Your common sense shines through once more and


The kingly hubris that comes with a throne

Like morning mist that shrouds yon tall Big Ben.

Without your sound advice I'd be alone.

Knowing human nature as you do

There's no one in the Cabinet quite like you!

Cunningham: That's true. I am not Scottish, Welsh

or gay.

There is not one of them the same can say!

Enter a messenger, bursting with a message.

Messenger: My liege, grave news from down the

road I bring.

The House of Lords doth flout my Lord the King!

The brave new laws which he would seek to pass

Have been kicked out upon their very arse

By this pack of rogues and noble fools,

These products of the shires and public schools! Tony: Yes, yes, good messenger, thank you for this. But next time you arrive, just state the news.

There is no need to overlard your message

With commentary and footnotes, and such stuff! The plain unvarnished truth is quite enough.

Is there more to come?

Messenger: There is , my Lord.

There stands outside a caller, Bragg by name,

Who on your ear doth seem to have some claim.

Tony: My well-loved Melvyn! Lord Bragg of Media! That walking science encyclopaedia!

Arts pundit, millionaire and literary axeman!

On Mondays now replaced by pushy Paxman...

Dear Melvyn, dear Lord Bragg! Come speak to me! Enter Billy Bragg, a left-leaning minstrel.

Bragg: A rather different figure you do see,

One who hates the name of Lord and would not


To take a title, as our Melvyn did,

And bring disgrace upon the name of Bragg.

Tony: Well, that's as maybe. What do you crave? Bragg: To send all peers to an early grave!

More of this blood-curdling stuff tomorrow!