A tale with everything: the Prince of Darkness, great men - and King Tony

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The Independent Online
THE EMERGENCE of Tony Blair, and the eclipse of Old Labour, has been described as a tale with Shakespearean overtones of heroism and tragedy. Just how true this is, is shown by a fragment of a recently rediscovered Shakespeare play, The History of King Tony, or New Love's Labour Lost ...

Scene: a battlefield in a marginal part of the Midlands. Enter King Tony with his victorious forces, attended by Dukes Prescott, Cook, Mandelson etc. Lord Livingstone stands off to one side, plotting.

Prescott: See how the Tories flee the field in panic! This once proud army has become a rabble. Their shattered troops now barely have the strength

To undertake five years of opposition!

King Tony: Nay, say not five! Say ten! Say fifteen years!

For who can stop our royal progress now?

Will it be William, Duke of Hague, whose cheeks

Do not yet know the razor's manly touch?

Lord Banks: Nay, for he is but an unborn babe in shape.

And they are led by nothing but a foetus!

All laugh, save King Tony.

King Tony: Lord Banks, Lord Banks, this is no way to speak.

The rough and rugged talk of barrack room

May well suit men upon the battlefield,

But now that we won this famous day,

We are the leaders! We have come to reign! And therefore must be seen and heard by all

To be right statesmanlike and noble.

Lord Banks: So, no more gaffes?

King Tony: No, none. And no more going

Upon the News Quiz as you were wont to do.

Lord Banks: Alas, for that gave useful pocket money,

Even if I was not always very funny.

Enter the Earl of Ashdown, with his band of men.

Ashdown: King Tony! All hail! A famous victory

That you and I have won this day against the Tories!

See them run to London's crowded City,

To take up safe directorships in town,

Till your new windfall tax shall bring them down!

King Tony: What say you, Ashdown? OUR victory?

We did not fight together on the field!

My men, unaided, beat the enemy,

Under New Labour's flag of change and trust!

We took no help from you, nor have done yet.

Ashdown: So, no seat for me in your new cabinet?

King Tony: I have not seats enough for my own gallant men

Who stuck by me through all the fallow years

When New Labour languished in the wilderness!

Brave Cook! Stout Prescott! Straw and Mandelson!

These are the men I have about me now!

Gone are the years of foul and Tory sleaze!

God give me honest comrades such as these!

Enter a man dressed all in a white suit

Martin Bell: Beware, your Majesty, of boasts of virtue,

Wherein you paint yourself as better far

Than those poor nullities who came before. Beware the day when such as your friend Straw

Shall have a son whose smoking finds him out. Beware the day when e'en the Duke of Cook

Shall try to fix his friend, the lovely Gaynor, With jobs that look most strangely like a favour. Beware, beware, the pride that comes with power! Be humble in your most exalted hour!

Exit the man in white

King Tony: Who was that man, who looked me in the eye

And did not bend the knee in reverence?

Mandelson: They call him Martin Bell, good sir. He walks alone.

Much foreign fighting has he seen and, so they say,

It hath made him mad. But worry not,

For I shall find some defect in his legal costs

To make him seem as venal as the rest.

King Tony: Good Mandelson, go spin the truth for me,

And tell the world about our victory.

Now, gentles all, let's to the victory feast

And drink the toast: Old Labour, Now Deceased!

More of this tomorrow.