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Tories arguing again at last

Tory-watchers breathed a collective sigh of relief today when, after a comparatively long wait of "at least several weeks", a formerly loyal Conservative MP suddenly turned and began attacking the party's current interim leader, Michael Howard.

Former frontbencher John Bercow, who appears to have recently returned from an extended trip to the Kilroy-Silk Tanning Emporium (Neasden), launched his stinging criticism via the pages of the Independent newspaper. Brandishing this morning's copy, Mr Bercow approached Mr Howard in the corridors of his Starbucks-based office and set about him in a haphazard manner, using it to whack him across the forehead, poke him in the stomach and finally throw it up in the air as a distraction while he kneed him in the groin.

Mr Howard has declined to comment publicly, but it is understood that he immediately responded by welcoming his opponent back into the Shadow Cabinet, before ordering an aide to fetch a "slightly damp haddock", with which he proceeded to slap Mr Bercow on both cheeks, and then fired him.

Political commentator Douglas Ramsbottom spoke for most of the country when he congratulated Mr Bercow on causing another amusing argument within the Conservative Party, shouting, "Hurrah, at last something more interesting than the bloody American election!"

A spokesman for the Tories said that they had no immediate plans to self-destruct hilariously, but given that a general election is only months away he could not rule it out.

Meanwhile, Labour ministers have denied speculation over the weekend that they have called a Conservative leadership election for the end of February in the hope of benefiting from a "Baghdad bounce". Speaking under strict anonymity to our reporter, a senior Scottish Cabinet member said that Labour might consider holding a leadership election of its own "if Baghdad bounces the way I think it's going to", adding with some glee that he "can't wait".

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