The insider - Kevin Maguire locates the missing vote

Harriet stirs it up, Widdecombe's family way, and David Blunkett in the doghouse

Men in tights with their knickers in a twist over the Commons cleaners' rebellion can blame Harriet Harman QC for the unemptied bins. Tipping up on the Westminster picket line, the constitutional affairs minister let slip that she had helped kick-start this revolt. When a Mr and Ms Mop turned up at her constituency surgery Hattie pointed them in the direction of her hubby Jack Dromey, a TGWU union chief. In a further sign of the strange political times, loquacious Jack was rendered speechless by a handshake and best wishes from a smiling Tory picket, Mark Pritchard of The Wrekin.

The continued fascination with wedlock of Ann Widdecombe, Tory spinster-in-chief and the mock-Gothic fun palace's very own Doris Karloff, is undimmed by the troubles. Doris, still on the shelf at 57, selflessly advocates nuptials for everyone except herself. Simultaneously guarding her own privacy while freely foisting marital advice on others, Doris was booked to share her thoughts with the newly formed Conservative Marriage Policy Group. Alas, she went unheard on this occasion after crying off, citing "family matters". That's her mam, not a man.

BBC and Sky News bods are sniggering into their microphones about ITV plans to break out of Westminster politics by basing Tom Bradby, ITV's new political editor, in Gray's Inn Road to cover politics across town in, umm, Westminster.

Old telly hands predict that fresh-faced posh boy Bradby will buy a mac and stand in Downing Street like everyone else. Meanwhile David Mannion, the ITV News boss, is grumbling at having to fork out £100,000 to poach the BBC's Daisy Sampson to give his coverage bottom. Sampson and Andrew Neil, the Daily Politics chief presenter, had, I hear, fallen out before her defection.

West Midlands Tory civil war on the trade and industry select committee after the new chairman, Peter Luff (Mid Worcestershire), ignored pleas from his neighbour Julie Kirkbride (Bromsgrove) to investigate Rover's Chinese takeaway. Luff prefers inquiries into post offices and world trade, leaving jilted Julie to lure members into cars over the summer.

David Blunkett is trying to dodge blame for the Blairites' defeat in the race for the vacant PLP seat on Labour's National Executive Committee. Readers may recall that the loyalist Janet Anderson lost by a single vote to awkward Angela Eagle, despite mobilisation of the payroll vote and heavy arm-twisting by whips. Blunkers, I gather, failed to vote after mislaying his ballot paper, which puts him in the No 10 doghouse.

With terrorists on the rampage and police warning that Big Ben is a potential picture-postcard target, I do hope the parliamentary authorities are not tempting fate by erecting a large effigy of Guy Fawkes in Westminster Hall. November is the 400th anniversary of the last - failed - plot to blow the place up.

MPs are whiling away long summer days by texting each other propositions of a sexual nature purporting to be from that Lib Dem Lothario, John "26 Lovers" Hemming. All-man Peter Hain didn't know the Brummie Don Juan cared until his own phone beeped, Hemming's colleague Sarah Teather having decided that men were fair game, too.

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

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