Leading article: Friends reunited

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"Alastair?" "No, it's Alistair." "Alistair who?" "Your Chancellor of the Exchequer, Gordon."

(Sound of mobile phone hitting wall.)

"Switch? Get me Alastair. Campbell."



"Alastair? It's Gordon."


"I know it didn't go very well the last time we spoke."

"When you told me that I was a shallow public-relations trickster and no better than a Cambridge-educated, working-class version of David Cameron?"

"Well, what I meant was –"

"I thought it was a bit rich when I was just trying to do what I've always done for every Labour leader: give you some ideas for soundbites that will capture the imagination of the public. You could have accepted my word that 'Gordon Brown Bottles for Britain' was a typing error – those keys on the BlackBerry are really tiny, you know. And I do think you need to capture the Olympic spirit. What was wrong with 'synchronised swimming's coming home'?"

"Er, yes, Alastair. The thing is that I've had a discussion with Harriet Harman – What was that?"

"Bad line."

"I was talking to Harriet, and she pointed out that what I said could be held to be a form of discrimination against middle-aged white alpha males. She thought it might constitute aggravated harassment. She said that under forthcoming legislation, the Government is obliged to offer you your job back."