The insider - Paul Routledge fears that Campbell's spirit lives on

Campbell's spirit lives on, another broken handover pledge, and hacks in boozer shock

Who outed John Maples as a principal plotter in the Tory conspiracy to oust IDS? Interestingly, one of Downing Street's media outriders was fingered as the one giving out the name of the former shadow foreign secretary in Blackpool. "It's not a breach of lobby rules, you know," he insisted, looking over his shoulder. Mmmm. Old hands suspect that even though Alastair Campbell may have gone, his methods remain.

Francis Maude was busily outing himself, telling anyone who would listen that his constituency association had passed a vote of no confidence in IDS. So he was safe from the stick-wielding chief whip, David Maclean. Labour is happy meanwhile to allow the affair of IDS's office financing to run and run - and not just for the obvious reasons. The scandal can only help Blair's drive to get state funding for political parties, freeing Tory leaders from the need to use their wives as cheap labour and freeing him from the beastly unions and tedious members. Expect this measure to figure in the election manifesto.

Tony Blair was dumbfounded to be greeted during his royal progress in Bournemouth by Martin McGuinness. These events are supposed to be properly stage-managed. At the Irish embassy party, Sinn Fein was strongly in evidence. Its denizens predict that if the delayed elections in Northern Ireland finally take place in December, the Shinners will replace the SDLP as the main nationalist force in the Belfast Assembly.

Those ubiquitous friends of the Tory MP for Henley, Boris Johnson (who sound uncannily like Bozza himself), insist he turned down the editorship of the Daily Telegraph in part because his elevation would have involved a by-election. I hear the opposite - that Barkin' Boris cheerfully contemplated a potentially dangerous poll, on the grounds that if he lost, it would be a perfect launch pad for an anti-IDS coup.

More entertainment from the NS party of the year at Labour's conference. Fresh from viewing Channel 4's The Deal, the story of Blair's broken pledge to hand over the leadership to Gordon Brown, the Labour MP Peter Kilfoyle asked the Sun's Trevor Kavanagh when he would adhere to his own alleged handover pledge: to stand down in favour of his deputy political editor, George "BLT" Pascoe-Watson. Much choking into white beard, but no confirmation. Why BLT? Black leather trousers, George's favourite "clubbing" gear.

How fortunate for Ian Twinn, former Tory MP for Edmonton, that new Labour introduced the list system for deciding who shall be a Euro MP. With the departure of Lord Bethell due to illness, Twinn simply moved up the proportional representation ladder and took the seat. He can only keep it for seven months before facing election next summer, but he gets a pass to the parliament for life. Since he is a political lobbyist, this could prove rather useful.

The faceless men of the Commons accommodation department want to do away with the Press Gallery's historic boozer, scene of many fights and plots. The Press Gallery committee is fighting to keep the bar as unchanged as possible. It helps that the interior of the Palace of Westminster is Grade I listed - as are many of the drinkers.

Paul Routledge is chief political commentator for the Daily Mirror

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