BUNHILL: The Beast of Yeast in a boardroom blitz

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The Independent Online
"Things can only get better" was the Labour campaign tune, and how well chosen it was. After 18 years spent licking their wounds, kicking their heels and standing on the outside looking in, Labour's leading lights are finally fit for office - for the office.

Tony Blair said that New Labour meant business, and we should take him at his word. After courting our captains of industry so assiduously, it is only natural that Labour MPs should trade in their modest stipends in five years' time and follow the well-trodden Tory path into non-executive directorships.

To start with - and on the basis that if you go far enough to the left, you'll come back on the right - the curricula vitae of the more red-blooded socialists make compelling reading. The City beckons for Ken Livingstone, who will go from lizards to Lazards and a career in merchant banking. Then there's Denis Skinner, who will be offered a directorship at Ranks Hovis McDougall, turning the Beast of Bolsover into the Beast of Yeast.

Moving further to the right, how many members of Peter Mandelson's campaign team does it take to change a light bulb? Answer: none - he's the Prince of Darkness. So Mr Mandelson - along with Jack "Curfew" Straw- can look forward to a bumper payday at Silentnight Holdings.

The most lucrative positions, however, await our new Prime Minister who is already being lined up for the detergents company Unilever, and Celsis, a biotechnology firm which has come up with a system for detecting microbes in food and household products. That way, Mr Blair will be able to be tough on grime ... and tough on the causes of grime.

In the fallout following his attempt to take over the Co-operative Wholesale Society, details are emerging of another Andrew Regan bid for a venerable British institution. Amid rumours of a split, the General Synod of the Church of England is at this moment meeting in emergency session to consider a hostile bid from Regan and his asset-stripping acolytes.

The C of E is believed to be grossly undervalued with unlimited invisible earnings, billions in untapped property development potential and uncollected musical royalties going back centuries. The chairman of the Church's parent company was unavailable for comment last night, though he is said, mysteriously, to have been spotted in a number of different locations. Mr Regan is believed to want to split the organisation into a trinity of specialised operations prior to selling.

A bidding war between Rome and Tehran-based multinationals is expected, with a promised windfall for confirmation certificate holders from the Italian company's banking division seen as a masterstroke from the likely winner.

Roll over, Tory boys

After the success of the Tesco "electoral roll" political sandwich (see 'hills passim), the Bunhill psephology team are smacking their lips in anticipation of the gastronomic delights that will accompany the Tory leadership contest. So much so, in fact, that we can't resist a few suggestions of our own.

Those wishing to express a preference for Michael Howard (hard to believe, I know) can do so by buying the oxymoronic-sounding hardline bread and water sandwich - an unsound bite of negligible nutritional value - while supporters of William "Tory Boy" Hague, who first addressed conference aged 16, can feast on a smorgasbord of smarmy bratwurst. Sadly the Redwood camp will have to go hungry, as expressing a preference for food is an emotional response unbecoming in a respectable Vulcan.

In truth, however, even these meagre morsels might prove too rich a diet for the slimmed-down Conservatives. Still, one filling comes to mind that would be more than adequate for them all - sour grapes with hard cheese anyone?

In the light of Richard Branson's successful sale of his Virgin Radio interest to London's Capital Radio, it is worth noting that the plethora of radio stations that we now take for granted were once seen as undesirable intrusions on our airwaves. In fact, a candidate in the 1964 general election was roundly ridiculed for advocating their creation in his campaign.

As has been noted elsewhere, the potential MP in question was none other than Screaming Lord Sutch who, in the same election campaign, also called for such other obviously preposterous measures as votes for 18-year-olds and all-day pub opening. Lord Sutch was unable to stand in the recent election as he needed to care for his sickly mother, who sadly passed away last week - all at Bunhill Towers extend their deepest sympathies. John Major, Tony Blair and Paddy Ashdown all expressed their regrets that Lord Sutch would not take part, Mr Major saying: "I shall miss him, he is a national institution."

Indeed he is. In recognition of his eminently sensible policies, Bunhill exhorts the ex-PM to include Britain's sanest Loony in his resignation honours list. Step forward Lord Lord Sutch - of Barking?