Pistols at dawn for Billy boy

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Before last week's ballot settled the issue of the Tory Party leadership, there was much speculation in both camps about what would happen in the event of a tied vote.

Various physical contests were considered and rejected. Absurdly, some in the William Hague camp rather fancied a bout of mud-wrestling. Absurd that, because Kenneth Clarke obviously does sumo in his spare time. Or maybe belly-fighting. Hague eventually decreed it would be pistols at dawn - principally because Clarke would make a bigger target than his

own sylph-like frame.

"Two Brains" David Willetts, the former Paymaster-General and one of the Boy Pretender's campaign managers, was also in speculative mood on polling day. There were too many "what ifs?", he complained. But one thing was certain, he insisted: if Lee Harvey Oswald had shot Nikita Khrushchev instead of John F Kennedy, Aristotle Onassis would not have married Mrs Khrushchev. And Jeremy Hanley would never have been made Conservative Party chairman.

One other mystery was cleared up last Thursday. If the Tories are the stupid party, who is the stupidest of them all? Put your hand up, Dr Julian Lewis (Much Blethering, East) founder of the League of Militant Abstentionists, who thought it smart not to vote at all.

Let's hope we will not hear too much about Hague the entrepreneur, considering that he made a loss on his campaign. Friends coughed up pounds 84,000 to finance his "fresh start", but the Hagueites actually spent more than pounds 87,000, and the invoices are still rolling in.

Only the Conservative Party could possibly appoint Sir Cecil Parkinson as chairman on the morning that the Commons was discussing the tribulations of the Child Support Agency.

NICK BROWN, the Chief Whip, has taken unto himself powers of discipline over Labour MPs that make Draco, the rigorous Athenian law-giver, look like a school nanny. Better watch out. One of his former chums in the GMB union, where Old Nick was a regional baron, reminds Creevey that he does not forget those who have crossed him down the years. "Newcastle" Brown, as he is known (for his constituency, not the drink: he is a pints man) is very close to the other Brown, the one in the Treasury. Chancellor "Iron Broon" shocked the Dutch special branch in Amsterdam last week by insisting on walking to his hotel from the summit conference centre. Nervous detectives surrounded him, and knocked flying a cyclist who strayed too close. A bit difficult, that could have been. Tony Blair was pedalling around for the sake of the photographers at the time.

JOHN PRESCOTT on the Internet? An appalling thought, you may say. All that joined-up shouting. But it is almost certainly happening already. Civil servants at his two merged departments of state - Transport and Environment - have discovered that they cannot ring each other up because the phone systems are incompatible. And so are their software systems, so they cannot send e-mail. They are reduced to talking to each other via the Internet, which is not exactly secure. If you surf around long enough, you might just come across the Big Fella. Look for him on InterRant.

DOMINIC LAWSON, the strong-willed editor of the Sunday Telegraph, called his staff together for a pep talk after speculation that his lunch with Rupert Murdoch could presage a transfer to the Times. Lawson, who has not so far established cordial relations with the reporters in the newsroom, reassured his journalists that he had no plans to quit. Perhaps he has a diplomatic deafness, for he seemed not to hear the low groan that greeted his piece of good news.

THAT'S what you get for muttering during the maiden speech of Rosie Winterton, aka the Barbara Windsor of Westminster. Government ministers, Nick Raynsford and Hilary Armstrong, had the temerity to chat among themselves while the new MP for Doncaster was on her feet for the first time. She punished the pair by inviting them to visit Doncaster, and the custom of the House dictates that they must accept. Never mind. They can sample the Tetley's in the Mason's Arms in Market Square, easily the best in town.

By the way, Creevey fully expects the diminutive former MP for Doncaster, Sir Harold Walker, to be ennobled in John Major's resignation honours list. The ex-Deputy Speaker is famous for his unpunctuality. Indeed, he was invariably known as the late Sir Harold.

Of course, Doncaster is in the news for its greedy burghers over the "Donnygate" scandal. Question: what's the difference between a Doncaster councillor and a supermarket trolley? Simple. You can get more food and drink into a Doncaster councillor.

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