Milosevic concedes a crucial goal in injury time

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The Independent Culture
THE POLITICAL world is still reeling from the news that the Labour Party is to be given a bye at the next general election. The idea, apparently, is that whoever actually wins the election itself, New Labour will go on as the governing party of Great Britain.

A spokesman for New Labour said that it would be quite wrong to shackle such a great British team as New Labour to domestic fixtures when it could be leading the way in Europe, nay, the world. Therefore the unusual decision had been made to release it from the necessity of competing at the next election. The manager of New Labour, Tony Blair, pronounced himself delighted at the decision.

"Our domestic fixture list is getting quite unbearable," he said, "so it makes a lot of sense to leave us free for international contests and show everyone what we do on a larger stage.

"Recently we took part in a highly prestigious tournament campaign in Yugoslavia, for the Kosovo Peace Cup, which we were not remotely expected to win. We have confounded our critics and returned with the Kosovo trophy, but instead of being allowed time for even a lap of honour, we are being immediately hustled over to Northern Ireland for yet another trivial little round of parochial league fixtures. God knows how long the team can keep up this sort of pressure, and if we are given a bye for the next election, we shall all heave a sigh of relief..."

No government has ever been given this sort of exemption before, and managers of rival teams are severely doubtful about the experiment. William Hague, manager of ex-champions Backwoods United, says he doesn't mind New Labour being given a bye for the contest, he just objects to them being given the title automatically, while Charles Kennedy, manager-elect of plucky little Liberal Rovers...

A reader writes: Dear Mr Kington, Yes, yes, I think we get the point now. You're drawing a parallel between Manchester United and New Labour. Very clever, I'm sure, but do you really think you can keep it up for a whole article and what would it prove anyway?

Miles Kington writes: Nothing at all. If you would prefer it, I could also draw a parallel between the poisoned chalice of the England managership and the equally poisoned chalice of the Lib Dem leadership. Or perhaps between Tony Blair and Tim Henman...

A reader writes: Tony Blair and Tim Henman? I'm not with you.

Miles Kington writes: Tony Blair meets Gerry Adams today in what could be the crucial match of the All-Ireland Club Tournament. He knows that the entire British public is rooting for him, but Adams is a ruthless opponent whom he has never beaten before - his bombshell service is quite literally a lethal weapon. But Blair is not downhearted. "It's a difficult match and Adams is a tough opponent," he admits, "but I'm on a roll at the moment after success in the Serbian Open and I have a good feeling about this one. No Englishman has ever been successful in Northern Ireland before, but I think we are due for a change of luck..."

A reader writes: Dear Mr Kington, Stop, stop, stop! Yes, you can spare us all that. Heaven knows, it's bad enough having to put up with real Henmania from Wimbledon. But you have to admit that Tony Blair really is on a roll at the moment after winning against Slobodan Milosevic.

Miles Kington writes: "Yes, we sure whipped Slobodan Milosevic!" (boasts Prince Naseem Blair, Britain's undefeated champion at all weights ). "Just like we whipped Saddam Hussein! And the same way we whipped Colonel Gaddafi and all those other guys! And today I'm going to Belfast to take on Adams and Trimble, two at a time, because I'm the fastest and greatest and no- one can beat me!"

Brave talk. But boxing statistics tell a slightly more sober story. It is certainly true that Prince Naseem Blair has a strong record of not being defeated. On the other hand, his list of victories is not that impressive either. The match against Milosevic looked to most experts like nothing more than a closely fought draw, and Saddam Hussein, the Iraqi champion, has never admitted defeat or given up his title. As a showman, Prince Naseem Blair is up there with the greats. As a performer, however - well, the jury is still out.

A reader writes: Dear Mr Kington, One last question. Why all this politics in sporting guise?

Miles Kington writes: Because people are more interested in sport than politics.

A reader writes: I see. Thank you.

Miles Kington writes: Not at all.