The insider - Paul Routledge revisits the "lezzy lobby"

Sex at the kitchen door, the BNP threat in Burnley, and the "lezzy lobby" revisited

The secret of Tessa Jowell's surprisingly secure tenancy of ministerial office is out. The Culture Secretary regularly gives Alastair Campbell a lift home to north London in her ministerial limousine. Ergo, she is unsackable. The question arises: why doesn't Ali C use his own car? He is hardly likely to get done for drink-driving.

To Politico's, for the launch of Lord (Bernard) Donoughue's autobiography, The Heat of the Kitchen, which is surprisingly good. One bit of heat took place in his mother's kitchen in a Northants village. Bernard was a small boy sitting in his favourite bolt-hole, under the table, when his mother came home to be "given one" (his phrase) against the back door by one of her fancied lorry drivers. "Growing up with mother was certainly educational," he observes. No wonder he was attracted to Wilson's kitchen cabinet. Donoughue also recalls his dismissal from the Times ("an above-average brothel"), where he was briefly Harry Evans's intellectual sidekick. He remembers that, as father of the NUJ chapel, I had to defend him when he was sacked in March 1982.

MPs could not quite understand why Alan Whitehead, the unknown junior minister, was sacked after the last election. He had done nothing wrong. In fact, he hadn't time to do anything at all. Now it can be told. Sally "Feeble" Keeble, the international development minister, was on the defenestration list, but the chief whip, Hilary Armthtwong, intervened to save a Blair Babe. The Foreign Office minister Mike O'Brien was sent to mollify Whitehead, assuring him that sacked members of the government can be rehabilitated if they keep their noses clean. Don't depend on it, Brother Whitehead.

Lose Burnley to the BNP? Unthinkable, but Labour strategists are thinking it. The veteran MP Peter Pike is retiring at the next election, and the politically correct brigade at Old Queen Street have imposed an all-women shortlist. The name most mentioned is Jane Pike, daughter of the roly-poly incumbent who famously got the throaty response "call me madam!" when he asked Betty Boothroyd how he should address her. Anyway, party managers fear that Ms Pike could lose the seat if voters have a fit of pique over such blatant nepotism.

The Westminster lobby sisterhood is up in arms over my report last week of their shenanigans with Peter Mandelson. I disclosed that their all-female dining club is known among the men as the "lezzy lobby". To quote one journalist, it is unacceptable for me to "patronise" female colleagues "in a supposedly left-of-centre, right-on magazine". But I merely report the facts. "Lezzy lobby" is what the male hacks call it. I didn't make it up. What is more, the blokes say if they had a men-only, food-for-stories deal with politicians, the women would scream "discrimination!" Of course, the blokes are far too lazy to do any such thing. Easier to complain about it in the bar - and steal the story when the ladies come from lunch full of excitement.

Security gets tighter in Westminster, and even MPs are now told to wear their passes. Police once took pride in knowing every member by face. But the other day I noticed a badgeless "Junket" Jack Cunningham being challenged as to his identity in New Palace Yard cloisters.

Paul Routledge is chief political commentator for the Daily Mirror