Paul Routledge

The idea is being seriously canvassed at Westminster of an early referendum on the euro. A number of Labour backbenchers and peers - not solely on the left, but scattered across the spectrum - support the idea.

They tacitly accept that the poll would go against Britain joining the single currency. But better this, they say, than to let the Tories exploit their advantage and turn the general election into a one-issue contest that Labour could lose.

Perhaps they are reading too much into new Labour's dismal showing. There is no doubting, however, the sense of shock among MPs comparing how badly they did in the constituency count. "We would have lost Don Valley! Unthinkable!" exclaimed one.

"We were within 500 votes of losing Normanton [my home town], y'know," said another.

Naturally the Euro poll farce brought out the worst in the Project supporters. Even before the election, ministers with half an understanding of their tricks were predicting that the Leader of the House, Margaret Beckett, would be blamed for the collapse of the party's core vote. They even correctly forecast where the canard would appear - in the Observer, house journal of the Projecteers, whose political editor Patrick Wintour goes into hysterics if Peter Mandelson is disparaged at dinner parties.

The reality is that the PR system of closed lists, favoured by the Projecteers, puts people off voting. Far from ensuring "fair votes", it encourages abstentionism. Polly Toynbee observed on a television show with me that traditional Labourites have "nowhere to go" except Tony Blair. Oh yes they have. They've got homes to stay at. And by God did they show that.

Suggestions for getting the vote out ranged from compulsion to bribery. My favourite is the proposal to give every voter a free £1 lottery ticket.

Despairing ululations about the result of the election overshadowed the jockeying for top European Commission jobs. A highly placed snout tells me that, until the right established its new ascendancy, Neil Kinnock was in line for a vice-presidency, not tied to a particular portfolio but with responsibility for extending the EU into the former communist states of eastern Europe. Will his prospects now suffer? Incidentally Kinnock prefers Siena to Brussels. He thinks the Belgians drive too fast.

Publishers are falling over themselves to sign up Ken Livingstone's new book. Titled Livingstone's London, it is part autobiography, part polemic - or why we should vote for him as London's mayor. He is due to sign any day for an advance in the tens, rather than the hundreds, of thousands. Ken has scant respect for Charlie Whelan's creative talents, but it looks as though he will get less than Charlie was offered for the book that never was.

These summits in Cologne are going off with Teutonic precision. At the most recent, the Sky TV political editor Adam Boulton, filming from the top of a high-rise block, was warned that he would be shot by a police sniper if he stepped over a rail. Since there was a 100-foot drop to the ground on the other side, the German sharpshooters must be sure of their aim.

Boulton was immaculately dressed in shirt, tie and suit. But the camera didn't pan down to his feet, because he was wearing powder-blue brothel creepers. Just back from hols in the south of France, he had forgotten to pack shoes.

On the flight back, three political hacks, after whining that the plane was late, were bribed with small bottles of champagne to shut up. They're amateurs. The BBC's John Sergeant is champion champagne snaffler. He was spotted discreetly tucking away a couple of bottles in his poacher's bag, presumably for those arid afternoons in dreary hotels. I don't suppose he got a phizog like that hanging around milk bars all his life.

The writer is chief political commentator for the "Mirror". Lynton Charles returns in August

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