The Tragi-comical History of King Tony, Part Two: enter, stage left, the Ghost

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The Independent Online
YESTERDAY I brought you a fragment of The History of King Tony, the only known Shakespearean play dealing directly with the progress of New Labour. We didn't get much further than the famous defeat of the Tory Army, so let's see how King Tony settles in to power.

Scene: The Palace of Westminster. Enter King Tony accompanied by noblemen, courtiers, supplicants, advisers, Catholic priests, spin physicians, etc.

King Tony: Now, tell me, wise old men and gentle


What is the greatest problem of our age?

Duke of Livingstone: It's very simple. To regain our

Socialist ways.

King Tony: Oh, come, dear Ken! Be not so obvious!

Duke of Livingstone: Give socialism a chance ! It

has not yet been tried.

King Tony: Why, sirs, I keep this Duke of


Like other men keep parrots in a cage,

To cry out, ever and anon, in purist rage,

"Give the Left Wing a chance! Give it a chance!" Livingstone: (aside) I'll lead this Tony such a devilish


When I am mayor of London, that he'll rue

The day he chose his centre-rightist view !

King Tony: The greatest problem of our age is


We must reform the bleeding welfare state!

So what we'll do is this. First, single mothers...

As King Tony pursues his speech, Dukes Prescott and Gordon-Brown stand apart and talk privily.

Gordon-Brown: What think you of our new anointed

king ?

Prescott: It suits him well. He loves to hear the


Beyond the palace walls, rehearse his name.

Here is a man who loves to be loved, methinks. Gordon-Brown: And loves himself as well. See

where his smile

Shines on his face whene'er he makes a point.

The court all worship him, from whom comes light,

But he has worship only for himself.

Prescott: And for those who worship him! For

President Bill!

For evil Rupert, known as the Dirty Digger,

For Gerry Robinson, the off-shore king ...

Gordon-Brown: Thou sayest sooth. He craves complete affection

From those below and everyone above!

As others desire money, he craves love!

Prescott: But hush. He looks this way. We must not


To be conspiring `gainst his crown and throne. Gordon-Brown: Let's smile and wave, and play the

loyal friend.

But things may have a very different end...

Scene: a banqueting hall, where King Tony and Queen Cherie are welcoming guests as they arrive.

Queen: Pray, welcome, one and all, whoe'er you are!

From every walk of life, from law and City,

From showbiz's merry halls, from sport as well! Lloyd-Webber, Branson, Spice Girls, Irvine the


We welcome citizens right across the board! Livingstone: (aside) Except the working class.

There's none such here.

This is become an elitist show, I fear.

King Tony: My lords and ladies, welcome to my


Where we shall show a model of the Dome!

But first, to set the spirit of this merry night...

Enter the ghost of Old Labour, which only King Tony can see.

No, no! Foul ghost, begone! Avaunt my sight!

Your hands are caked with dirt! Your face is grim!

You look like Aneurin Bevan! And who needs him? Queen Cherie: My Lord, what is this sudden fit!

What have you seen?

Why do you shake and glower at your Queen?

The ghost of Labour Past shakes his head at King Tony, points to a copy of the Labour Manifesto of 1945, wags a stern finger and vanishes.

King Tony: Saw you not the ghost of Labour past ? Courtiers: Well, no we didn't, your Highness, since

you ask.

King Tony: Then, being so, I am myself again.

Mandelson: (aside) I'd better phone the guys at

News at Ten

And ask them not to mention this new fit.

If Tony should crack up, T'will ruin it!

In forthcoming extracts, we hear from the beleaguered Lady Mowlam in battle-torn Ireland, "Mad" Jack Cunningham, Donald the Scottish Pretender etc, etc.