In a budget speech which sent the last remaining Britons hurrying for the airports with hastily-stuffed suitcases, a desperate Alistair Darling today announced the long-dreaded return of radical hard-left socialism.
"I was just running this speech through the spell-checker this morning," the Chancellor told the House of Commons, "When I heard something about the death of Jack Jones on the radio. Apparently there was a Labour Party long before Tony Blair came along - and even more surprisingly, I remembered that I used to belong to it. I dug out my scrapbook, and found all sorts of stuff I'd long since forgotten, like having a beard. I used to look like Noel Gallagher in a Moss Bros suit, I tell you! Ha ha - er... anyway, I remembered that back in Lothian in the year dot we all used to have a high old time chanting 'Tax the rich!' and I thought - well, why not? It won't make a bugger of a difference to the enormous yawning chasm of debt which the grumpy sod next door's dropped us all into, but it might look good in the Sun tomorrow - after all, it's not like Rupert Murdoch pays tax, is it?"
"The only problem I could see was: where do you draw the line?" continued Mr Darling, as MPs yawned and nodded off on the back benches. "Who can you hit for more tax without the Daily Mail screaming blue murder and calling the middle-class rent-a-mob out onto the suburban streets? Then I remembered that I'm on the standard ministerial salary of £137,579 - which might still go up a bit, if we can slip it through while nobody's looking - and in a moment of inspiration it dawned on me that anybody on more than 150 grand a year is a thieving capitalist bastard who deserves to be hit for half he's worth."
At this point the Prime Minister (salary: £188,848pa) suddenly leapt to his feet with an inarticulate cry and tried to wrestle the Chancellor of the Exchequer from the dispatch box. Mr Brown was swiftly seized and dragged from the chamber, screaming, "You tufty-faced communist bastard!"
As guffawing Tory MPs linked arms and sang the Internationale, sweating members of the Labour front bench were seen to be nervously texting their offices to check how much they were getting paid for their various declared interests.
Mr Darling, meanwhile, spent the rest of the afternoon drawing meaningless graphs on a flipchart and referring Britain to the tables in Appendix C.