Gordon Brown and his supporters today stunned Parliament by launching an official bid for the leadership of the Labour Party against Tony Blair. Under Party rules, 20% of all Labour MPs must support a leadership challenge. However, the usually prudent Chancellor announced that almost 34% of the Parliamentary Labour Party had signed a motion calling for a contest:
"I am delighted that my challenge has been backed by over 1/3 of all labour MPs and that I that I secured the support of 14% more MPs than I needed to spark a leadership contest. Or to put it another way, that is a 70% increase on what was required, allowing for seasonal adjustments due to absenteeism which is measured by an index based upon a propensity for sickness and holiday averaged out over a 36 month period, divided by the average age of an MP squared. These figures could not send out a clearer message."
The notoriously frosty relationship between the PM and his Chancellor had sunk to new lows in the weeks leading up to todays announcement. In an off the record interview with Heat Magazine, Brown is said to have criticised Blair for being a "spineless spin master whose supposed superiority has seen success only sporadically". When the alleged leader of the opposition, Michael Howard, confronted Mr Blair in the Commons repeating Brown's remarks, the PM could not hide his anger:
"My message is simply this - in my mind, if it is anything more than mere mischief making by the most malicious magazine on the market, then myself and my honourable friend must meet so he may make known his misgivings to me." Blair did add that he was confident that the Chancellor had been misquoted. In private however, according to an unnamed cabinet source, Blair was said to be seething at the magazine article and at one stage threatened Brown saying "I should beat you to death with your own leg".
Todays announcement will come as a welcome relief to the many Labour MPs and activists who are growing sick and tired of the on going bickering. The Spoof also welcomes the leadership battle as when all's send and done, we like nothing more than a good fight.