The insider - Paul Routledge wonders about the weather lady

A kiss in Basra, the mystery of the MP and the weather lady, and that lezzy lobby again

No wonder the Chancellor's Commons euro speech sounded like the Budget. Gordon Brown treated it that way. Opposition leaders got their usual advance copies of his speech, but missing the final six pages. This section, which contained most of the euro-meat, was only supplied after the Chancellor got to his feet. Yet there was nothing particularly market-sensitive about his proposals, which had all been trailed well in advance. The only market-sensitive information about the "equilibrium currency" was published in the morning, triggering a fall in the value of the pound.

Brown changed his text while speaking. He was going to talk about "new European economic policy goals". This became "new economic policies for Europe", presumably lest he be accused of pursuing a European economic policy.

The most stomach-churning episode in Tony Blair's trip to Iraq was in Basra, where the Great Helmsman was kissed by a little boy while visiting a school. As his armoured convoy sped off, local people tried to loot the school but were repelled. Alastair Campbell spent the next three hours tracking down the boy's name, and on the plane home he rhapsodised about "that kiss". Fortunately, the party being airborne, sick bags were on hand.

Invitations have gone out for the first BBC/House Magazine awards next month. It promises to be an occasion of the most stultifying boredom. The shortlist for Political Journalist of the Year is about as predictable as it could be: Trevor Kavanagh of the Sun, Peter Riddell of the Times, Michael White of the Guardian and Chris Moncrieff, semi-retired ex-political editor of the Press Association. Their combined ages must exceed 200 years. Where are the new generation, such as our own John Kampfner, who exposed the government's duplicity over the legal basis of the Iraq war, or Peter Oborne of the Spectator, whose reports from Zimbabwe and Afghanistan make his rivals look positively housebound?

Why do Labour MPs chortle and give the thumbs-up sign when Lembit Opik, the space cadet Lib Dem MP, enters the chamber? He is stepping out with Sian Lloyd, the TV weather lady, and the gesture is something to do with an alleged private disclosure about their relationship. I do wish someone would get to the bottom of this.

Brendan Barber, the new general secretary of the TUC, has consented to be the next guest at the Westminster Women's Luncheon Club. After the filleting of Peter Mandelson, is this wise? The "lezzy lobby", as it is disgracefully called among jealous male hacks, is never happy unless the guest's scalp is on the menu. He would be well advised to hurry back to Great Russell Street to put out his own spin before the harpies (I'm sorry: ladies of the media) get back to their screens. I also hear there is pressure to wind up the club, on the perfectly valid grounds that it is sexist. The ladies must resist. This is too good a story to miss.

Peter Mandelson's think-tank Policy Network, organiser of the pompously titled Policy Governance Conference, has a new head, one Nick Bent. An MP idling through an internet search on this name came across several definitions in an encyclopedia of slang. For "nick-bent", it offers: "British slang for temporarily homosexual due to imprisonment".

Paul Routledge is chief political commentator for the Daily Mirror

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