The insider - Paul Routledge hears details of Prescott's body

Mandy's lunch with the sisters, Cherie's latest adventure, and a glimpse of Prescott's body

Just how much collusion was there between Gordon Brown and Clare Short ahead of her resignation? And what is the subtext to the declaration of undying amity between Blair and Brown over the euro? Nobody at Westminster takes either development at face value, which says something about the state of faith in new Labour. Ir'n Broon is known to have been in close contact with the international development secretary throughout her crise de conscience over Iraq, and played a key role in staving off her departure until it was less damaging to the government. "But where does all this leave us?" asked one bewildered MP. Nearer a sea change, probably.

Peter Mandelson's secret, off-the-record briefing at Quod's restaurant in Haymarket, in which he accused the "politically obsessed" Chancellor of outmanoeuvring the PM on the euro, was organised by the female political correspondents' luncheon club, known among male hacks as "the lezzy lobby". The event rarely fails to produce copy, because ministers go weak at the mouth in such pulchritudinous company. Mandy, however, greeted his hosts with the words "but I don't know anybody here", before excusing himself to attend to his prostate problems in the gents. His remarks were supposed to be unattributable (as if!), but the admirable Jane Merrick of the Press Association put out the text of his attack on Brown. The wrathful sisterhood duly threw her out of the club for doing her job.

The headless chicken syndrome has struck Downing Street, after spin-doctors heard that Cherie Blair intends to open her heart to the Mail on Sunday. The go-between in this dangerous enterprise is said to be Carole Caplin, the First Lawyer's style guru who now writes a column for the paper. Quite why the Blairs could be taken in so easily, when they still have an injunction out against their former nanny for spilling the beans to the MoS, is inexplicable. Incidentally, one of the secrets in the nanny tapes concerns a Blair family holiday in the south of France.

John Prescott is a smooth man, not a hairy man, as you might expect. A Tory researcher tells me she spotted him stripped to the waist, manhandling a computer in his Commons office. She glimpsed Prezza the Porker through an open door, and did a double take, thinking he was naked. She should know that old Labour has certain standards.

A shortlist for the BBC political awards has been drawn up. I hope there are fewer tricks than in the old Channel 4 awards, where Ollie Letwin won more nominations than some of his rivals but mysteriously failed to make the shortlist. Sir Patrick Cormack, Westminster's very own Malvolio, is presiding over the new taxpayer-fuelled exercise in bombast. He loves to be called a Tory grandee, and it would be quite wrong to recall that he hails from a council house in Grimsby.

Granada Television is making a programme to celebrate (if that is the right word) Cyril Smith's 75th birthday. One anecdote concerns his appeal for funds to renovate his local Nonconformist chapel in Rochdale. Fatso sent a begging letter to local clergymen, asking for a fiver. They all stumped up, except the Catholics. Smith harried the priest and got a cheque for £20 "towards the cost of demolition".

Paul Routledge is chief political commentator for the Daily Mirror

12 issues for £12