Where There Were No Doors

Follow your bliss and doors will open where there were no doors before - Joseph Campbell

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

The truth about Tony and Gordon

Political news in Britain is rarely more than journalists repeating misremembered alcohol-sodden secrets to one another and then writing it up as being from a "Westminister insider". In fact, there's a couple of tabloids that will quote you as a "Westminister insider" just for standing next to Guto Hari on a station platform for a few minutes. I know this for a fact as it happened to me only last week. It's no surprise, therefore, that political journalists get it so very wrong, so very often.

There is a current example which is providing me with no end of mirth at the expense of the chattering classes who believe themselves to be "clued up" as to the relationship between Gordon Brown and Tony Blair. NuLabor, it is said, has become split between the Brown and Blair factions. There are differences of opinion as to how wide and how serious the rift is, but you can count on the fingers of one toe the number of political pundits or journos or "insiders" who'd deny that a power struggle is indeed developing within the party. And all the pictures in the world of Brown smiling alongside Blair's golden boy, Alan Milburn don't seem to be able to dissuade commentators from that belief.

What happened - say the commentators - is that Blair and Brown made a deal. The deal basically ensured that Blair received unwavering support from Brown and his faction, in return for an agreement to step down before the next election allowing Gordon Brown to sweep to power as the new nuLabor leader.

All very obvious, right? Everyone in the party trots out the line about how the leadership isn't decided by secret deals. But all the same, the party mainstream would like a smooth and stable leadership transition, and not the kind of circus the tories put on whenever they assassinate a leader. Almost everyone would expect Brown to win any leadership contest anyway... so why not - for the sake of party unity - let them sort it out quietly between themselves?

Well... for a start because it's a lot more difficult to back out of a free and fair election result than it is to renege on a secret deal that everyone had been loudly denying even existed. Right Tony?

It's the perfect political drama. Secrecy, intrigue, betrayal, and plots to subvert the democratic process... all set against a background of war, suicide and questionable intelligence. Real cloak and dagger stuff. Right?

Wrong!

All you sillies have got it wrong. I alone have got the real skinny. News from the horses' mouths as it were. There never was a deal. It was a bet.

The details of the bet are still murky. Only Gordon and Tony know all the ins and outs. But unfortunately they were both completely wasted when they tried to explain it to me. It all got a bit incoherent and eventually degenerated into an argument over who got to keep hold of the remote control, as it apparently "always" does. I made a joke about the symbolism of that. They both just glared.

Aaaanyways, Tony started telling me how boring domestic politics had become now that the tories had surrendered. It turns out, he'd always planned to step down a full year before the next election and allow a democratic transition. "I fully expected Gordon to win of course, but that's just a statement of the fucking obvious, not a clandestine deal!" were his exact words to me. But seeing as how there was no opposition to shout at, the only thing to do now was run the country. And that was just no fun. No fun at all.

So to spice things up they snorted a couple of lines of coke and devised a needlessly complicated and paranoid wager. As there was no chance of losing the next election, they could pretty much fuck around however much they wanted. And so... Blair wins the bet if he can remain Prime Minister until May 2009 whilst deliberately adopting a series of increasingly absurd policies (from a list agreed by the two men at the start of the wager).

Meanwhile Brown must do his best to undermine Blair, but is only allowed use a select few excruciatingly subtle and passive-aggressive techniques to do so. At all other times he must be 100% behind party unity. Gordon descended into a fit of guffaws as he tried to explain the intricacies of the bet... but I must admit that I didn't find any of it worthy of a guffaw. Though it did raise a chuckle or two. Especially when he pulled up short and - with a look that was half bewilderment and half suspicion - asked "What the fuck am I on about?" and then fell off the sofa.

Blair called him a jessie.

Now, I know what you're thinking. Why in the name of god would Blair invite me round to Number 10 when he and Gordon are having a smoke and watching telly? Well, it's funny you should ask...

A few weeks ago I got a call from Sonia. Sonia's a friend of mine from way back, who now works as a call girl. She once told me that she probably made in a week twice what I made in a year. I told her she was selling herself short. Anyway, I hadn't spoken to her in a while but it turns out that she tends to be a regular up at Downing Street these days. Usually her clientele comprises foreign presidents and prime ministers, but every now and then there'll be a call from either Gordon or Tony. It's not the best work in the world, but the lights are off, they do wear paper bags, she gets to choose the music, and the money is putting everyone she's ever met through college.

On one particular day she got a call from Tony who told her that the Downing Street "Man" had buggered off on holiday with his family to Disneyland. Bloody typical, complained Tony, who then wondered whether she, Sonia, happened to know where himself and Gordon could score some weed? "We only need a quarter to last us til Marty gets back".

Sonia didn't, off hand, know where to score some weed but figured the easiest way to find out would be to phone one of her old pothead friends. Which is why my phone rang.

"Aw jeez, Sonia", was my initial response, "I'm just an old pothead. I don't grow or sell the stuff. Every now and then I'll get some skunk in, but really... that's about it. My rabble-rousing days are over, and I like a quiet life now. Man! even the idea of rubbing shoulders with that Downing Street crowd...? Y'know, that's pretty hardcore Sonia... those boys surround themselves with gun-toting heavies and shit. That's a fucked up scene."

She agreed, and she sympathised, and asked me did I know anyone else who might be up for it. I suggested Johann, but she told me that Gordon Brown had pledged to "personally strangle that fucking maniac" if he ever saw Johann again. So, after much hmming and hawwwing, I agreed to get the weed from Johann Rissle and deliver it Downing Street. Johann lives in Amsterdam, so getting hold of a quarter ounce of quality skunk involves walking into a cafe and buying it over the counter. Hiding the cannabis in a condom, he then kidnapped a child and forced him to swallow the condom. Then he sealed the child in a container enroute to Portsmouth via Sao Paulo. Thankfully the child had enough food to survive the ordeal, and spent his time cultivating the cannabis plants which had grown in the fertile topsoil of the container. Johann was no fool; he'd given the child food, halogen lamps, a diesel generator and some books on horticulture.

By the time the container arrived in Portsmouth it was simplicity itself to harvest and dry a quarter ounce of this potent bud. The child - Sven - sold the rest of his stash and bought a ticket home to Holland with the proceeds. There he sold his story to a tabloid and became extremely wealthy. A 'made for television' biopic is due out next year, "Container of Courage".

Meanwhile I'd been told to phone Tony's direct line when I'd got hold of the stuff. Just say you're "The Man", said Sonia. He'll know who you are.

I did as she said, feeling decidedly self-conscious at all this melodrama. "Just when I thought I was out... they pull me back in!" was the line going through my head when I heard Blair answer. "Hallo!" he said cheerfully. "Ummm... hi there. I'm The Man."

"Oh right", he said quickly, "just hang on a second will you?" He cupped his hand over the mouthpiece, but I could still hear him clearly call across a room, "Cherie, I think it's for you... the man in the crotchless spiderman outfit that you wanted between 8 and 10 tonight". He returned to the phone conversation, "When you say 'The Man', are you the crotchless spiderman, or someone else?" No Tony, said I. I'm The Man who has your quarter ounce of pot. Shall I drop it over?

Which is how I ended up getting high with Gordon and Tony (neither of whom can hold their smoke) and discovering the truth behind their apparent rift.

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