The insider - Paul Routledge sees Labour's rose turn grey
The mystery of the grey rose, an outbreak of nerves at Wapping, and my Christmas quiz
Is new Labour dead and buried? Party membership cards for 2004 do not have the "new Labour, new Britain" logo on the front. In its place is a huge grey rose, about the pallor of the Prime Minister. Cards will no longer be issued annually, but will be valid as long as membership is paid up to date. This could be another ruse to hold on to those too lazy to cancel their direct debit. My "personal" mailshot from the leader invited me to pay an extra £10 "or more" a month. Hope springs eternal.
The Sunday Times appears to be in regular receipt of genuine cabinet documents, a fine piece of journalistic enterprise. So why is there such anxiety in Wapping about a possible investigation? Surely the rumour that money is changing hands cannot be true.
Robert Key, the circumferential Tory MP for Salisbury, agreed to meet executives from his constituency's largest employer, but cancelled when the invitation arrived. The company's chairman was missing from the list. He only meets the very top people, y'know.
This being the joyous season of marital breakdown, surreptitious gifts and political disloyalty, what better subject for my Christmas competition than Westminster scandal?
Can you name these dirty dozen MPs? The usual £20 book token for the first correct entry opened in January.
1. Which MP was also a Christian missionary, a German spy, occupied a cell next to Roger Casement, and met his death as a Buddhist lama?
2. Which paragon of parliamentary virtue hid in the bushes, disguised in a cap and muffler, until his Sloane Ranger mistress let him into her flat?
3. Which dubious back-bench war hero, jailed for seven years for forgery, could not reconcile himself to either Labour or the Tories?
4. Which minister "fell like Lucifer" after breaching regulations in St James's Park but lived to become a luminary of Conservative homosexuals?
5. Which lucky tyke escaped without charge from his role in the Poulson scandal?
6. Which one-time MP gave succour to Kim Philby in his hour of need?
7. Which MP liked to play the headmaster, spanking his "pupils" while watching Tory by-election losses on television?
8. Whose future foundered in the arms of a Soho club hostess on a park bench in south London?
9. Which backbencher was branded "a pillock" by constituents after posting a picture of himself in his knickers on a gay contact website?
10. Which pal of Gaddafi was caught in the Commons showers with a girlfriend?
11. Who finally lost his political career "hunting badgers" in woods by the M4 motorway?
12. Which turncoat was dubbed "love rat of the Commons" after admitting that he had cheated on his wife with a female journalist?
Merry plotting and an indiscreet New Year to everyone!
Paul Routledge is chief political commentator for the Daily Mirror