Kevin Maguire - Village life
High rollers return to the Tories, the Sun King cools off, and why Mrs Ming should be afraid
To a room smelling of mothballs just off Piccadilly to hear Citizen Dave's wonker-in-chief, Michael "Specs" Gove, disclose that the Cameronians hark back to the good old days when rich men bought elections. Mr Specs, a Wapping hack turned Tory MP, proposes an end to the £20m spending cap on parties, plus scrapping the TV political advertising ban. This would permit the contemporary equivalent of "treating" the great unwashed to nightly doses of propaganda.
My chap in the trendy trainers whispers that the Tory leader's right-hand man, Georgie Osborne, is another spend, spend, spender. Obscured by an eye-catching three hours of toil for Bob Geldof was the appointment of that moneybags, Lord Ashcroft of Big Bucks, as deputy chair. High rollers are returning to the Conservative cause.
One wealthy old geezer distinctly underwhelmed by Citizen Dave is the Sun King. Rupert Murdoch, for it be he, is cooling after only a few weeks of what anoraks may look back on as a Wapping fling rather than full-blown love affair. Rupe confided to a trusty lieutenant that "there is not much to him", I hear, after a session with Smiler. The Tory Midas evidently mislaid his golden touch when it mattered most.
The Prime Minister & Mrs Blair request the company of north-west Labour MPs and their partners in Downing Street at 6.30pm on 30 January to be schmoozed into submission. Our outgoing leader has embarked on a canape offensive to woo opponents, with whips arm-twisting troublemakers to join the sycophants who normally pack No 10 soirees. If the aim is to win back critics over a goat's cheese tartlet, setting aside 90 minutes per regional gaggle smacks of heroic optimism.
Blair-Brown war erupts by proxy on Tyneside, where Geordie fixer Nick "Newcastle" Brown trades blows with town-hall minister David "Primrose Hell" Miliband. The immediate spark is a battle over cash-for-buses and compensation for pensioner freebies, though the pair pay homage to rival kings. Nicknameless Jim Cousins is ignored after warning Newcastle Brown that the Primrose Heller has a "powerful friend" in No 10, the fixer able to cite one of his own in No 11. Word in Strangers' Bar is that Newcastle Brown will get his £7.5m bus ticket as the political sands shift in his favour.
With a gurgling baby the leader's accessory of choice in 2006, sandal-wearers observed sixtysomething Ming the Merciless with a furrowed brow the day Big Gordie joined Citizen Dave on the sprog waiting list. He is possibly not as uneasy, however, as Mrs Ming. The smoking room, by the way, is now known as the Hewitt room, as puffers prepare to be stubbed out by nurse.
Kevin Maguire is associate editor (politics) of the Daily Mirror