Prime Minister Tony Blair was rushed to hospital earlier today after catching fire during a particularly passionate speech in which he defended his decision to help his best friend, US President “Boy” George W. Bush, invade Iraq.
Mr. Blair was speaking in his Sedgefield constituency. He had just said “I believe with ever fibre of my body that it was the right thing to do” for the fifth time when a wisp of smoke appeared behind his left ear. It was quickly followed by flames, which began licking his face.
Apparently overcome with emotion inspired by his oratory, Mr. Blair seemed to be unaware and carried on speaking, his voice continuing to rise both in tone and volume. However, an alert aide spotted the rapidly increasing conflagration and quickly doused it with a jug of water from Mr. Blair’s podium.
The PM was taken to a nearby hospital where he had to wait just six hours to see a doctor, which led some people already waiting there to complain about “preferential treatment”. Fortunately, he sustained only very minor burns and a temporary bald spot and was released, with a caution to hold back on the rhetoric for a couple of weeks.
Douglas Ramsbottom, a Sedgefield fireman who was in the audience listening to Mr. Blair, told our reporter that arson could not be entirely ruled out, but that at first sight it appeared to have been a case of spontaneous combustion. He said that such cases were not unknown, especially among, as he put it, “the more fiery orators, no pun intended”. He cited the case of Enoch Powell, who began to smoulder several times during his speeches in the 1960s. He also said that there was some indication that *, the royal formerly known as Prince Charles, had once come close to bursting into flames during one of his rants against genetically-modified turnips.
Sedgefield police said they would be investigating the incident as several people in the audience claimed to have seen what they rather uniformly described as a “shortish, stout middle-aged woman with medium-length brownish hair” apparently holding a box of matches and acting “in a suspicious manner”. Police spokeswoman Brenda Shuttleworth told our reporter that at this stage the investigation was purely routine, and they had no reason to suspect foul play.
It is not expected that Lord Hutton will be asked to hold an inquiry into the incident.