Commons Confidential

David's Miliblunders.

The image David Cameron is spinning of himself, as a youngster who hadn't much interest in politics, is disputed by a former ladyfriend. The one-time PR exec likes us to imagine he was an ordinary student, listening to the Smiths and playing tennis.

But Eton and the Buller aren't all he glosses over. Cameron was too lazy to be an activist, but the ex-girlfriend, who knew him intimately when he was learning to shave, revealed that her old beau dreamed then of being Prime Minister. Which explains how a guy unconcerned by politics came to work for Conservative Central Office straight after university.

Discretion dictates that I keep private what Cameron got up to under the duvet. For now.

Three months after Sky announced the death of the freed Lockerbie bomber, Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi is still (at the time of writing) breathing in and out. Sky swiftly corrected its spectacular error, but your correspondent has learned why its political editor, Adam Boulton, felt confident playing the Grim Reaper: Sky thought it had an impeccable source. Step forward, Foreign Secretary David Miliband.

Jon Craig, Boulton's colleague at Sky, fascinates the youngest members of the Brown household. The boys, I hear, refer to the figure standing outside No 10 in inch-thick make-up as "The Silly Man". A TV rival wondered aloud what excitable Craig would be called if the junior Browns were old enough to understand what he says.

The yellow blight's Nick Clegg is busy wooing the right-wing newspapers. Snouts whisper that he was favourably received at lunches with the Daily Mail and the Telegraph, where the editors are unconvinced by Dave. For the Guardian and the Independent he's a Liberal, but at the Mail and Torygraph, Clegg posed as a Democut who'd slash spending.

To GMTV, where the lift doors opened to disgorge a confused Attorney General. Baroness Scotland had got lost in the bowels of the building. I pointed out she'd turned left instead of right. An unusual move for a New Labour minister who hired an illegal immigrant for £6 an hour.

The Labour whips' office was surprised when there was no reply to the text message: "Has anyone lost a mobile phone? If so, please call Dave Watts."

Kevin Maguire is 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.

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The UK is dangerously close to breaking apart - there's one way to fix it

We must rethink our whole constitutional settlement. 

When the then-Labour leader John Smith set up a report on social justice for what would be the incoming government in 1997, he said we must stop wasting our most precious resource – "the extraordinary skills and talents of ordinary people".

It is one of our party’s greatest tragedies that he never had the chance to see that vision put into practice. 

At the time, it was clear that while our values of equality, solidarity and tolerance endured, the solutions we needed were not the same as those when Labour was last in power in the 1970s, and neither were they to be found in the policies of opposition from the 1980s. 

The Commission on Social Justice described a UK transformed by three revolutions:

  • an economic revolution brought about by increasing globalisation, innovation and a changing labour market
  • a social revolution that had seen the role of women in society transformed, the traditional family model change, inequality ingrained and relationships between people in our communities strained
  • a political revolution that challenged the centralisation of power, demanded more individual control and accepted a different role for government in society.

Two decades on, these three revolutions could equally be applied to the UK, and Scotland, today. 

Our economy, society and our politics have been transformed even further, but there is absolutely no consensus – no agreement – about the direction our country should take. 

What that has led to, in my view, is a society more dangerously divided than at any point in our recent history. 

The public reject the status quo but there is no settled will about the direction we should take. 

And instead of grappling with the complex messages that people are sending us, and trying to find the solutions in the shades of grey, politicians of all parties are attached to solutions that are black or white, dividing us further. 

Anyone in Labour, or any party, who claims that we can sit on the margins and wait for politics to “settle down” will rightly be consigned to history. 

The future shape of the UK, how we govern ourselves and how our economy and society should develop, is now the single biggest political question we face. 

Politics driven by nationalism and identity, which were for so long mostly confined to Scotland, have now taken their place firmly in the mainstream of all UK politics. 

Continuing to pull our country in these directions risks breaking the United Kingdom once and for all. 

I believe we need to reaffirm our belief in the UK for the 21st century. 

Over time, political power has become concentrated in too few hands. Power and wealth hoarded in one corner of our United Kingdom has not worked for the vast majority of people. 

That is why the time has come for the rest of the UK to follow where Scotland led in the 1980s and 1990s and establish a People’s Constitutional Convention to re-establish the UK for a new age. 

The convention should bring together groups to deliberate on the future of our country and propose a way forward that strengthens the UK and establishes a new political settlement for the whole of our country. 

After more than 300 years, it is time for a new Act of Union to safeguard our family of nations for generations to come.

This would mean a radical reshaping of our country along federal lines where every component part of the United Kingdom – Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and the English regions – take more responsibility for what happens in their own communities, but where we still maintain the protection of being part of a greater whole as the UK. 

The United Kingdom provides the redistribution of wealth that defines our entire Labour movement, and it provides the protection for public finance in Scotland that comes from being part of something larger, something good, and something worth fighting for. 

Kezia Dugdale is the leader of the Scottish Labour party.