You have 60 seconds and no policies

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As a gesture to democracy I am today handing over my column to the two main contenders in the Tory leadership race, so that they can use this space to make their final addresses to their electorate. You've got exactly a minute each, gentlemen.

First, a big hand for the challenger, Mr John Redwood.

"Hello, I'm the the one with the slightly hard features who looks fiercely intellectual, as you might expect from one of the youngest ever members of All Souls', not that the British public has the faintest idea what All Souls' is, but who cares what the British public thinks? Not the British public, that's for sure. Luckily the British public has little or nothing to do with this particular election, which is being decided by 300-odd Tory MPs, who were freely elected of course by the electorate, or, to put it another way, were foisted on the electorate by 300 humdrum local Tory constituency parties, and if that's democracy, then I'm a smoked banana, but that's another matter.

"Turning now to the burning issues which face us this week, I would like to go on record as saying that I would definitely support Mr Illingworth's policy of playing four specialist bowlers. Not only that, but in the spirit of market-forces philosophy which I learnt at Mrs Thatcher's knee, I would go round the English supporters beforehand and ask them who they wanted to see in the team, and then select the team on that basis. For once and for all we must resist the pressure from Brussels to select our team for us! Do we want unmarried mothers in the English cricket team? I think not. Do we want to be told by Brussels to put a token Muslim in the English cricket team? I do not think so!"

Well, time's up for Mr Redwood after 60 seconds, and I think he did fairly well there. He loses one point for spelling All Souls wrong - there is, of course, no apostrophe in the college title - but we will just remove the one point, although he mentioned the college several times, as I suppose you would if you were a member. He loses another point for deviation in wittering on about cricket and another one for mentioning Margaret Thatcher's knee. It's bad enough mentioning la Thatcher at all, but mentioning any part of her anatomy, even a knee, shows a somewhat unbalanced approach to the lady - anyone who still thinks of her in a physical sort of a way is bound to have a question-mark hanging over his sanity. So I think we'll take two points off for that, making a final score of minus four.

And now it's John Major's turn. You have one minute, sir, starting ... now.

"Hello, I'm the other one, the one with round soft features who may not look intellectual, but at least I look human, and I may not have charisma, but goodness alive, that's the very reason you elected me in the first place - you were sick to death of people with charisma!

"Oh yes, you were. Remember Thatcher? Remember Heseltine? Now do you remember why you elected me? That's right! Anything for a quiet time! Well, now you have had your quiet time, and you're getting fed up with it, like children who are spoiling for a fight, and you want a bit of excitement and drama, and do you know what happens when people want a bit of excitement and drama? There's tears before nightfall, that's what happens!

"So I thought to myself, how can I give the British public a bit of drama and excitement without any damage? Some fun and games without the tears before nightfall? How can I give them the illusion that something exciting is happening even though nothing of the sort is? I know, I thought. I'll call a spot election! Not a real election, not a general election, because I'll lose that, but a pretend election which has all the feel of a real election and none of the reality.

"Furthermore, I'll hold it during the second week of Wimbledon and just before the third Test match, when things really are going on that are exciting, and people will look for the nice quiet outcome to the Tory party contest. In other words, they will re-elect me."

Right, 60 seconds up there, and not a bad effort, I thought. One point off for mentioning Thatcher. One point for repetition of "tears before nightfall". One point off for deviation, all that cricket and tennis. And one point deducted for not mentioning the real subject of the election, which is to have a Tory leader in place who is guaranteed to lose the next election which, despite everything they say, is what the Tories desperately want.

So let's see, the final score is ...


A draw.

So it will go to a second ballot then.

Sorry about that.