Former Prime Minister Tony Blair looks set to make a shock return to British politics after his successor Gordon Brown offered him the post of Witchfinder General in the latest cabinet reshuffle. Following several widely reported outbreaks of teenage witchcraft, the government has concluded that the spread of sorcery amongst Britain’s youth is one of the main causes of the social breakdown currently being experienced in the UK. “The unregulated use of witchcraft is becoming a far graver threat to our society than drug abuse, knife crime or terrorism”, Brown told the recent Labour Party conference during his keynote speech. “Decisive action needs to be taken to combat the spread of this evil creed amongst our disaffected youth.” Ministers were shocked by the result of a specially commissioned survey which showed that one in five children under the age of sixteen had practiced witchcraft and that the average age of initiation into covens was only fourteen. “It was clear that something had to be done – young people were regularly invoking the dark arts in order to settle petty disputes,” revealed a top civil servant involved in the survey. “Whereas, in the past, they’d simply use knives or guns, and the consequences would be nothing worse than a couple of major arterial bleeds or a drive-by massacre, now we were regularly seeing people dismembered by demons, turned into frogs or eaten by plagues of ravenous locusts. In Wolverhampton, for instance, hospitals were in danger of being overrun by cases of running pustules as a result of intense inter-coven warfare in the area!” Whilst the church and some sections of the press were quick to blame the rise in teenage witchcraft on the popularity of the ‘Harry Potter’ novels and films, the Prime Minister began to harbour suspicions that it was part of an orchestrated campaign against his government, a view reinforced when Foreign Secretary David Milliband began speaking in tongues during cabinet meeting, and had to be exorcised by Transport Secretary Ruth Kelly, a prominent practising Roman Catholic and Opus Dei member. Indeed, a source close to the Premier has revealed that he strongly suspects that Tory leader David Cameron is the reincarnation of a Scottish witch burned at the stake by one of Brown’s ancestors in the sixteenth century. “It’s clearly personal – this steady decline in Labour’s fortunes didn’t start until Brown replaced Blair. Before that Cameron wasn’t getting anywhere – he only started exercising his magical powers when his nemesis came to power,” claims the unnamed party official. “Besides, how else can you explain the sudden popularity of a party led by a bunch of public school pillocks, other than through witchcraft? Clearly, they’ve enchanted the electorate into believing that they’ve somehow changed and are interested in social justice rather than just pissing on the poor!”

Brown has already publicly accused he Tory shadow chancellor, George Osborne, of quite literally using ‘voodoo economics’ to precipitate the current financial crisis, by pushing pins into effigies of leading banks, including Northern Rock and Bradford and Bingley. “What else could be behind the current turmoil in the banking sector other than witchcraft? There’s no other credible explanation,” he declared during a Commons debate. “I mean, you remove virtually all regulation from the sector, turn a blind eye to all sorts of irregularities, it should run perfectly! Obviously this crisis is the result of a black magic conspiracy on the part of a powerful coven of politically-motivated witches!” David Cameron angrily rejected such claims, instead blaming the witchcraft crisis on government policies. “Is it any wonder people are turning to the use of alternative therapies with the current state of our hospitals?” he demanded. “Excessive waiting lists, shortages of GPs and poor hygiene in our hospitals are forcing those who can’t afford private healthcare to consort with local witch doctors and faith healers to cure their minor ailments.” He added that many nurses and junior doctors were leaving the medical profession to become witches and warlocks, as the pay was better and the hours shorter. “It is quite obvious that this upsurge in sorcery is down to the undermining of good British Christian morals caused by the multi-culturalism and moral relativism supported by this government,” Cameron claimed. “We’d had witchcraft firmly under control in the UK since the sixteenth century, until this government’s disastrous immigration policies resulted in thousands of foreign witch doctors, voodoo priests and Muslims flooding across our borders!” Nevertheless, Cameron declined Brown’s challenge to conclusively disprove the allegations against him by allowing himself and his shadow cabinet to be ‘ducked’ in the Thames. He also challenged the Tory leader to deny lurid tabloid reports – accompanied by fuzzy photographs – that he and London Mayor Boris Johnson had been seen cavorting naked on Clapham Common with a horned man. “Will he deny that this was part of the unholy Satanic ritual in which Mr Johnson exchanged his soul for victory in the Mayoral elections?” he demanded.

However, Brown has also faced criticism of his stance on witchcraft from Labour left-wingers, who are highly critical of the measures so far announced by Home Secretary Jacqui Smith. They are particularly critical of proposals to stop the benefit of any job seekers caught using black magic, pointing out that witchcraft is predominantly practiced by middle-class professionals in secure and respectable jobs, rather than by the unemployed – who are, more often than not, the victims of sorcery. The left-wingers also argue that the establishment of a special freephone hotline for members of the public who believe that friends, neighbours or even relatives might be witches, to voice their suspicions whilst retaining their anonymity, will simply encourage a climate of fear and could easily lead to the victimisation of minorities, the socially maladjusted and downright weird. With Brown himself also unhappy at Smith’s handling of the witchcraft crisis – particularly her suggestion that former Tory premier Lady Thatcher should be tried for witchcraft and burned at the stake in Parliament Square – one-time political rival Tony Blair, recently converted to Catholicism, seemed the natural choice to take on the problem. “Gordon wasn’t impressed with Jacqui’s suggestion – for one thing, only heretics are burned at the stake in England, witches are hanged. She was lucky the opposition didn’t pick up on it,” confides a Labour party insider. “Tony would never make a potentially embarrassing faux pas like that. He knows about that kind of stuff, that’s why Gordon’s turned to him.” It is widely expected that one of Blair’s first moves will be to issue a set of guidelines by which the public can clearly identify witches, thereby avoiding false allegations. “We must remember that it is not just obvious physical traits such as warts that can identify a witch”, he has reportedly told the Prime Minister. “They can also be identified by their arcane and archaic belief system. Beware of people espousing outmoded ideas such as social justice, freedom of information or civil liberties. Such ideas are irrelevant to the modern world”.