The insider - Kevin Maguire knows how the Sun got its big scoop

Kearney tipped to follow Marr, the case of the £20 shag, and Galloway goes home to bed

Gordon Brown's stock is rising. The red tie he wore while delivering the Budget fetched £2,500 at an auction for the West Bromwich East constituency Labour Party - more than an Albert Square street sign autographed by the cast of EastEnders. Further evidence comes from the latest selections of prospective parliamentary candidates. As disclosed in this column, Brown's press secretary Ian Austin and his economics guru Ed Miliband sought Labour nominations in Dudley North and Doncaster North respectively. Both have now won - on first ballots. So that's two more MPs to vote for Brown as leader.

The mackintosh of state worn by generations of BBC political editors may be passed to a woman for the first time. Odds are shortening on Martha Kearney - Newsnight's political editor and presenter of Woman's Hour - succeeding Andrew Marr should the possessor of the most famous jug ears outside of rugby decide to step down after the election. Marr, I hear, may prefer Sir David Frost's soon-to-be-vacated Sunday morning chair to standing in the drizzle outside Downing Street on weekday evenings.

The anoraks at Charter 88 are seeking UN-style monitors to judge whether parties behave fairly and properly in the election campaign. Volunteers are to keep detailed notes on all communication they have with the parties, including contact on the doorstep and leaflets stuffed through letterboxes. Charter 88's assurance that it will take only a "small amount of time" is the first election inaccuracy uncovered.

Much to the consternation of Jane Griffiths (Reading East), the brothers and sisters are now suggesting the riposte she should have delivered to her fellow Labour MP Marsha Singh (Bradford West). Singh, it is alleged, waved a £20 note at her late at night in the Commons smoking room, shouting: "I'll come with you for a shag. How much do you charge?" Latest proposal from a male MP unable to locate his feminine side: "Sorry, Marsha, I don't have any change."

Gorgeous George Galloway's commitment to the anti-war cause ends, it seems, at sleeping in a tent. After a party to launch Stop the War, Andrew Murray's book on the Iraq invasion protests, Galloway and Murray headed for Nelson's Column and an overnight demo. On the way, Galloway realised it was St Patrick's Day and that merry celebrants with nowhere to stay would be wandering around central London. Unenthused by the prospect of sharing a paving slab with Guinness drinkers, Galloway delivered his speech before slipping home to his own bed.

My Westminster comrade Trevor Kavanagh was accused of brown-nosing when he dedicated a press award for the Sun's Hutton report scoop to the editor Rebekah Wade. This might just explain the mystery of how the paper acquired its leaked copy. Two days before the Sun splash, a police source with a 100 per cent accuracy record rang the Guardian. That weekend, Wade had been "monitored" on her mobile phone - reported Mr Mole - authorising another, named, Sun reporter to pay for a copy direct from the printers. The failure of the boys in blue to intervene presumably had nothing to do with the government's interest in seeing the whitewash enjoying an early spray across the pages of a pro-war tabloid.

Kevin Maguire is associate editor (politics) of the Daily Mirror

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