The political fallout of Tony Blair's botched cabinet reshuffle continues to cause bad blood at Westminster. In particular, Labour MPs who went out on a limb to support the Iraq war are hopping mad that the back-bench rebel Chris Mullin has been rewarded with ministerial office. "This is a slap in the face for the rest of us," said one disgruntled wannabe minister who got nothing. Mullin left the front bench of his own volition to reclaim the chairmanship of the home affairs select committee and indulge his old-fashioned leftie conscience. Now he is back in government with an agreeable £85,000- a-year job at the Foreign Office.
I also hear that Alan Milburn's nerve almost cracked at the last minute. The night before the former health secretary's resignation took effect, he nearly caved in to pressure from Downing Street to stay. But long-term ambition got the better of him.
The homosexual community at the Palace is also said to be bereft that, following Nick Brown's departure, there is now no gay member of the cabinet. Maybe they should check their records. They are almost certainly wrong.
Dr John Reid is not a genuine doctor, of course, but one of the vanity-struck House PhDs. Wisely, he is dropping his medical-sounding appellation now that he is Health Secretary, and meets real doctors every day. His PhD is in economic history from the University of Stirling. He studied how the Kingdom of Dahomey coped with the shift from the slave trade to palm oil. His reticence will not, presumably, spread to Dr Jack Cunningham, whose doctorate is in some arcane branch of metallurgy.
There are some real doctors in the House, among them Labour's Howard Stoate, who still practises as a GP in Kent. At Westminster, his medical services have been most in demand from the 40-something (and more) Labour MPs who want a prescription for Viagra.
Westminster press lobby hacks beat their media rivals in the annual tug-of-war on College Green. I put this down to the presence of gorgeous girlie cheerleaders who paraded their very considerable assets on the touchline. Not that they belonged to the lobby. The stern mesdames of the gallery rejected an approach from the team leader, Mike Steele. So downmarket to perform in such a fashion! A troupe of Durham students took their place.
Embarrassment at the Bonnington Hotel, where stalwarts of the TGWU celebrated the election of the left-winger Tony Woodley as general secretary in succession to Bill Morris. Jack Jones took the microphone to say: "It is time to reclaim our union!" Not exactly a ringing endorsement of the Morris years. Nor is the measly knighthood given to Bill in the Queen's Birthday Honours List. He had hoped for a peerage, with Privy Councillor thrown in and possibly a governorship of one of our former colonial territories. Still, Morris is the first TGWU leader in living memory to take the honours bauble. Jones did not refer to his own, much rarer Companionship of Honour, which is in the Queen's gift. Friends insist that "she personally asked him to accept it".
Back to Basra for a full account of the nauseous "Iraqi boy kisses Blair" story, which warmed the flinty cockles of Alastair Campbell's heart. Ross Benson of the Daily Mail told his Arab translator to tell the lad to kiss that nice Mr PM, and he obliged. So the whole thing was a put-up job, as we should have known.
Headline on a press notice from the All-Party Parliamentary Pro-life Group: "Little demand from patients for euthanasia, according to new survey". I should think so, too.
Paul Routledge is chief political commentator for the Daily Mirror and a biographer of Gordon Brown