The Revolution Will Be Televised: John Reid Seizes Power, John Prescott Evades Anti-Terrorist Police Using Only a Bendy Bus and Patricia Hewitt's Voice Gets an Asbo
Box, Red, New Statesman (1996)
Scene 1: With Tony absent, away in the Caribbean, the war of the press conferences is escalating. From the PM's office, John Prescott broadcasts a prepared statement on the BBC.
Prescott: I'd like to thank John Reid for his support during the crisis and I'm announcing today that he has been assigned a new role investigating the future of lobster farming in Cumbria. I shall assume his former duties myself.
Meanwhile in an adjoining room John Reid is making a statement live on ITN.
Reid: I'd like to thank John Prescott for his support during the crisis and I'm announcing today that he has been assigned a new role as Governor of St Helena. I shall assume his former duties myself.
Moments later, the two Johns bump into each other in the corridor. Both are smirking.
Prescott: Hello, John.
Reid: Hello John.
Prescott: Keeping busy?
Reid: You bet. In a few moments you'll go back to your office and find the officials clearing your desk.
Reid: I'm taking over your job. I've just announced it on TV.
Prescott: Hang on, I just sacked you--on the BBC.
Reid: And I sacked you--on ITN.
Reid and Prescott: What! Oh my God!
Each man rushes into the room the other has just vacated.
Prescott: Right. OK.
Without notes this time. "Hello, ITV. Reid's a pillock. Don't listen to him. I'm in charge. Tony said so. And now for a message from our sponsors."
[A McDonald's ad comes on the TV] Meanwhile, over in the BBC studio ...
Reid: I've just heard that this network has carried an erroneous statement suggesting that I've been assigned to other duties. Let me assure the nation that I remain in command during the terrorist emergency. The Deputy Prime Minster, meanwhile, has tendered his resignation in order to spend less time with his family. I shall address you again later this evening.
Scene 2: Two days later. John Reid speaks to the nation from a cosy armchair in No 10. His face is softly lit by a crackling fire, and he looks menacingly avuncular in his battle fatigues. He lights a cigar.
Reid: Good evening, Britain. Drastic times require drastic measures. Last night my old friend Speaker Martin recalled parliament for 20 minutes. Alas, the House was rather more sparsely attended than usual, but I'm glad to say that Douglas Alexander and I both made it into the lobby. Under the new Extraordinary Powers Act (passed by a majority of two with no abstentions), I am appointed Sole Consul for Life and Mr Alexander is made Deputy for the Time Being. …