Every afternoon at 3.30pm on Radio 4 you can listen to a new series of political short stories called "More Tales From Westminster". They include stories by the Guardian's Michael White, the Daily Mail's Quentin Letts, Tory would-be MP Louise Bagshawe, the Sunday Herald's James Cusick and ex ITN political editor John Sergeant.
White's tale wonders what would have happened if Gordon Brown had become PM in '97 instead of Blair. Would Blair now be plotting to get rid of Gordon? Letts's story is a dark comedy about a provincial Citizenship teacher who comes up to Westminster for the day and is horrified by what she finds (he gets in a gentle dig at his old target, Speaker Michael Martin). Bagshawe's story features a fat Labour MP who bears more than a passing resemblance to Gwyneth Dunwoody. Cusick imagines what might happen if a royal Prince ran for Parliament. Sergeant story features a spin doctor who likes to unbutton girls' blouses with the words "trust me, I'm a spin doctor".
How did the Westminster hacks find the medium of the short story? "I know some people think we write pure fiction anyhow," says Letts, "but I found it extremely hard work. We had just 2,000 words to play with - that's all you get for a half-hour slot on Radio 4 - and it's quite an act of compression. For my own story I tried to imagine what an outsider thinks of the House of Commons on his or her first visit. I suspect many of them leave feeling vaguely suicidal. Mike White's idea is a brilliant bit of coin flipping. All of us except John Sergeant have our stories read by professional actors. John got to read his own story partly because he has such a distinguished voice, partly, I suspect, because he got double pay that way."