The Agreeable World of Wallace Arnold: The delightful Tony carries the Carlton

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The Independent Online
MY CONCERTED efforts on behalf of Mr Tony Blair and his estimable new Labour Party continue apace. For those of us who are blessed with what one must learn to call, in the dread words of the marketing moguls, 'disposable income', the new Labour Party offers a highly attractive package of tough economic policies targeted against the worse-off, combined with a long overdue crackdown on welfare scroungers, two key strategies the Tory party has, to its cost, neglected to initiate these past 15-odd years.

The night before last, I enjoyed a hugely entertaining repast with Mr Tony Blair, giving him the chance to meet captains of industry in the newly opened Red wing of the Carlton Club. As we entered, Prescott - absolute treasure, incidentally, and a dab hand with the trouser-press - served us with a selection of soft drinks and beverages from the trolley, as well as providing an assortment of savouries, such as nuts, crisps and Twiglets. 'Your catering experience will come in immensely handy when Tony gets to Number 10, Prescott,' I reassured him, affably, 'and I daresay that if you give him a nice smile he might even splash out on a brand new uniform for you, replete with gold epaulets and clean towel, eh?'

'And you can piss off, for starters,' he replied, a little brusquely for my taste. But then staff are so very hard to get these days, and Tony positively dotes on him.

It is, of course, vital that the new Labour Party, under the Blair/

Arnold captaincy, wins the confidence of what one might term 'the better class of person', ie the wealth creators. Only then will it be in a position to gain across-the-board support for its tough new reforms. With this in mind, I dressed Tony in a brand new suit, gave his hair a good brush and encouraged him to wear his old school tie and the sash denoting that he was once Captain of his House. This gave him the appearance of - how shall I put it? - pliability that is so necessary if a Labour Prime Minister is to get anywhere with the men who matter. With a final check on his fingernails (spotless), I led him into our room at the Carlton, there to shake the hands of all those captains of industry who had been good enough to see him.

It all went, I am delighted to say, swimmingly. Tony didn't put a foot wrong, laughing at all their excellent jokes and nodding vigorously whenever these highly experienced individuals - among them my old friend David Hart and the excellent Lord Sieff - gave him the benefit of their wisdom, accrued from years at the cutting edge of the economy. Indeed, Lord Sieff was so impressed that he promised the Labour Party a very decent hand-out in the run-up to the next election, his only stipulation being that Tony should be seen on News at Ten in Marks & Spencer leisurewear at least three or four times a year for the first two years of his premiership.

As the party drew to an end, Tony asked us all to raise our glasses in support of lowering taxes for the better off. 'But shouldn't that be 'the worse off'?' chipped in Prescott, once again putting his proverbial foot in it, but I'm pretty sure I managed to get him out of the room and locked tight in the pantry before any major harm was done.

Am I alone in detecting a dramatic sea-change in British politics? A massive number of industrialists, bankers and influential journalists, among whom I count myself, are already backing Blair. At the moment, we are singing his praises from our offices and country seats, but, come the next election, I have every hope that we will continue to do so within the rather more influential environment of the House of Lords. (A quiet word in your ear if I may; all this talk of Blair somehow 'getting rid of the House of Lords' after the next election is, quite frankly, poppycock. I mean, if he got rid of the House of Lords, where on earth could he expect to shift poor old Prescott come the emergency reshuffle?)

And so to work. As the newly appointed chairman of the Labour Party Policy Unit (secretary S Heffer), I have already come up with an attractive range of tough-but-tender reforms. We are now committed to:

Full state pensions for all, with the single precondition that the claimant must be over the age of 90 and suffering from cancer, preferably terminal.

A National Health Service free at the point of service, the points of service being strictly limited to one per every 30 hospitals.

Education for all, with the obvious exception of the uneducated.

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