Village life - Kevin Maguire finds the Mingers downhearted

26 newstatesman l 16 January 2006 l columns

Ming the Merciless and the Mingers fidgeted uneasily at a glum first supper in the members' dining room since the betrayal of Glenmorangie Man. The grandee's grandee fears the tarnished Lib Dem crown may yet slip through his fingers - my chap with the pepper pot reporting little appetite for what comes next among disciples Evan Harris, Alistair Carmichael and Sarah Teather, a Mini Minger. Charlie Kennedy is swapping the bottle for revenge eaten hot or cold, backing ultra-ambitious Mark "Hungry" Oaten who slipped into Glenmorangie Man's home for a blessing. Fearsome government whip Tommy McAvoy's running commentary involves placing knives on the floor and yelling "you've dropped something" at passing Lib Dems.

Missing in the Westminster undergrowth is ex-SAS man David Davis, which means he's out on manoeuvres against Citizen Dave. A pinstriped type insists DD's Tory leadership ambitions still burn brightly, calculating Citizen Dave might disappear up Tony Blair's backside. Talk is of a revolt among corporate donors after Citizen Dave's assault on big business. He backtracked a little, naming Rupert Murdoch's Sky TV and cheap-labour Nike as firms he admires. By a curious coincidence both have been clients of Steve Hilton, the adman advising him to out-Blair Blair.

Unsisterly remarks are heard about our outgoing premier after his legs-akimbo role on Andrew Marr's Sunday sofa; macho man gripped his groin as he named five men and not one woman as Labour's young tyros. Many a female knee is anxious to make parliamentary contact, though an Aunt Sally faction blames Carole Caplin for putting him off the sorority.

Panic in the now tinier Respect party with SWP Trots holding an emergency session in Tower Hamlets after its sole MP, "Gorgeous" George Galloway, forgot to tell them he was swapping the House of Commons for the Big Brother house. A letter finding its way into my inbox records comrades conceding that GG's BB adventure damages the cause. The struggle is to take many forms. While GG parades his man boobs on prime-time TV, they'll carry on flogging newspapers on Saturdays.

To the annual parliamentary pool final where Dewsbury's Shahid "Whirlwind" Malik pips Cardiff's Kevin "Potter" Brennan 3-2 despite going 0-2 down. Malik is gracious in victory, insisting Potter is the real winner for coming so close to beating him. Potter's face suggests otherwise.

Bar alert: schools stick-man Lord Andrew "Not" Adonis is on a charm offensive, seeking out Labour MPs to discuss concerns over a half of shandy. There was, I'm informed, one taker and he insisted on anonymity.

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