A celebrity endorsement

Where do cultural icons get their political fix?

Production on the NS culture desk this week has slowed to a crawl as we explore the riches on offer over at the Archived Music Press blog. Some dedicated soul has scanned in pages from old issues of Melody Maker and the New Musical Express, dating from the late 1980s to the mid-1990s.

A niche area, you might think, but this was a time when the UK music press was a more adventurous beast than it is today. Amid the bad puns and profiles of long-forgotten bands such as Menswear or Lush (whose single an interviewer breathlessly describes as "the 'Wake Up Boo!' of 1996 . . .") there is loads of passionate, clever and wilfully subjective writing.

Among the highlights are Caitlin Moran's interview with Courtney Love in 1994; David Stubbs's prescient review of Oasis's (What's the Story) Morning Glory?, which deconstructed the band's schtick just as everybody else was going crazy for them; and Everett True's review of a Tricky and P J Harvey gig in 1995. You can also see the work of acclaimed photographers such as Kevin Cummins, whose work we've recently featured.

Oh! But what's this? A 1988 interview with the Fall's Mark E Smith where, in between diatribes on Britain's north-south divide and the state of Labour (good reading for anyone in the current, opposition-bound party), he delivers this choice soundbite:

"When I want to read politics, I buy New Statesman, it's as simple as that."

Daniel Trilling is the Editor of New Humanist magazine. He was formerly an Assistant Editor at the New Statesman.

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Commons confidential: Putting on the Ritz

Turns out, the young ’uns give even thirsty MPs a bad name.

Smoking is banned in enclosed workplaces including hotel bars and reception rooms but the prohibitions are, in the finest Leona Helmsley tradition, for the little people rather than the Pol Roger Brexit elites. The one-time City speculator Nigel Farage and the gruesome gathering of tycoons untroubled by the costs of an EU exit were, a witness informed me, puffing away on fags at the glitzy anti-establishment establishment bash at the Ritz on the night that a £59bn Brexit bill was presented to the nation.

The backslapping soirée was hosted by the billionaire twins Sirs David and Frederick Barclay, the mock-Gothic-castle-owning habitués of tax havens and proprietors of the five-star Piccadilly boarding house. My snout recalled how Freddie announced ever so grandly: “This is my house and people can smoke if they want to.” I trust that Fred’s hostel is well versed in the smoking ban law.

Jeremy Corbyn’s reincarnated chief whip, Nick “Newcastle” Brown, believes that he is the first Labour bigwig since Arthur Henderson to hold the same party post multiple times in three decades. Brown did the enforcer’s job for Tony Blair in 1997-98, Gordon Brown in 2008-10, Harriet Harman in 2010 and now Jezza in 2016. Uncle Arthur was Labour’s chief whip in 1906-1907, in 1914, in 1920-24 and in 1925-27. Tickled to learn that Henderson was awarded the 1934 Nobel Peace Prize, Newkie Brown was overheard musing: “Perhaps they’ll give it to me if I bring peace to the Parliamentary Labour Party.” Do that, and he’d be invited to run the UN.

The charm of Justin Madders is the shadow health minister’s easygoing nature. Which is probably just as well. The agreeable Ellesmere Port MP and former lawyer received a thank you note and photograph after attending a cancer charity’s event. The picture was of Tories. A high-profile Corbynista could learn from the mild Madders. She asked a paper to use only flattering snaps of her.

I may start an occasional series on jobs that haunt MPs decades after they made it to Westminster, after the shadow cabinet member Teresa Pearce recalled her experiences as a gym receptionist in the days before Lycra was fashionable. “I did it to get free gym use,” explained the Erith MP, “but I also had to clean and monitor the sauna on naked pensioner Tuesdays, so it was not worth the grim sights I had to witness.” Some things once glimpsed can never be unseen.

Westminster staff whisper that empty Tesco wine bottles have been found on the terrace. The finger of suspicion points at drunk and disorderly young researchers, particularly Tories, preloading before piling into the bars. The young ’uns give even thirsty MPs a bad name.

Kevin Maguire is the associate editor(politics) of the  Daily Mirror

Kevin Maguire is Associate Editor (Politics) on the Daily Mirror and author of our Commons Confidential column on the high politics and low life in Westminster. An award-winning journalist, he is in frequent demand on television and radio and co-authored a book on great parliamentary scandals. He was formerly Chief Reporter on the Guardian and Labour Correspondent on the Daily Telegraph.

This article first appeared in the 01 December 2016 issue of the New Statesman, Age of outrage