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Honest John's new job starts here ...

I am told by a normally reliable source that the election is over and that we are now entering a new era in British public life, one which will irrevocably change the face of British politics, which is what people always say when we have a change of government.

But it will mean a very real change of life for at least one man, and so, while everyone else was beating a path to 10 Downing Street for a glimpse of the newly sanctified Tony Blair coming out on the balcony to bless the crowds, I was heading the other way, to the residence of the newly unemployed John Major, who has suddenly been cast on the labour market in his fifties, made redundant with no obvious skills and little realistic chance of being re-employed.

Would he, I inquired, consider doing a little light journalism and writing the occasional column for me with his thoughts on the world today?

He would be absolutely delighted, he replied, as it would give him a chance to set the record straight.

Would he like to start straight away, I further inquired, by which I meant today?

Why, he delicately asked, so soon?

Because, I explained, I was hoping to get away over the holiday weekend, and needed someone to fill in who had time on their hands and wanted a bit of ready cash.

I am your man, came the reply.

Here, accordingly, is today's guest columnist, Mr John Major.

Thank you.

"Well," (writes John Major) "as I put my feet up and pack away the famous soap box, which will not be needed again in my lifetime, I finally have a few moments in which to look back at a feverish and frantic election campaign, at the end of which the British public exercised their inalienable right to go into the ballot box and make a fool of themselves.

"Am I being bitter? Not at all. I am merely letting you see a glimpse of that sense of humour for which I am so famous, and yet which nobody has ever heard an example of. This was one of the great successes of our campaign, the constant hammering home of our central message - that although John Major seems a dull dog, he is in fact, a decent, honest bloke with a great sense of humour. I think this got through to the public."

"Unfortunately, it was the only thing that did get through to the public."

"We tried everything else. We tried tarring the Labour Party with their connection with the big, bad trade unions. Unfortunately, few voters were old enough to clearly remember a time when unions were either big or bad, and I blame Margaret fairly and squarely for that.

"We tried pointing to our economic success. `Look, Britain's booming!', we said. `Don't let Labour blow it.' Unfortunately, the papers kept printing league tables showing we were lying about 11th in the EU, and that we weren't booming at all.

"I also tried to alert people to the possible break-up of the Union. Unfortunately I now realise that people were confused by this. Sometimes I was saying bad things about the unions and sometimes good things about the Union.

"However, there were very many bright spots in the election. The defeat of Michael Portillo, for one. The sight of David Mellor losing his rag in his hour of ignominy. What a very unappealing character he is, between you and me. Even better, the humiliation of Norman Lamont, who nearly bankrupted the country on Black Wednesday, and the fall of William Waldegrave, whom I repeatedly asked to resign after the Scott report and who never answered any of my memos. Well done, Bristol West!

"And now we come to the battle for the leadership of the Tory party. Well, not quite as much of a battle as it might have been, as there are only about 160 people left.

"The last time I stepped down from the job, I stood for election again and got it! Why should I not do it again? Perhaps I will have more to say about this in my next guest column."

"Thank you, sir. Great privilege."