The insider - Kevin Maguire spots the PM's shaker

The premier's zip and shake, Ming's wizard, and matey advice for Miss Moneybags

To the Highlands and a Scottish Labour grumble-fest where pink is the new Brown, with double-jobber Alistair Darling self-consciously sporting neckwear in rebranded Big Gordie's favourite new shade. The Transport-cum-Scottish Secretary welcomes the outgoing viceroy, Tony Blair, on a rare trip north, the latest leg of his long goodbye. Party apparatchiks fail to clear a landing of hacks to allow the viceroy to slip unmolested into the Gents, so there are sniggers as a pair of plain-clothes 'tecs provide close personal protection, pursuing him into the lavatory. Presumably one to unzip and the other to shake. A spinning David "Over The" Hill is battered as to why Blair devoted much of his speech to Scotland after uttering next to nothing last year. He hops into a RAF helicopter with indecent haste.

Non-Labour muttering in Aviemore's lively Cairngorm Hotel is of the youthful local Liberal Democrat MP Danny Alexander's nickname: Harry Potter. He is judged to bear a striking resemblance to J K Rowling's young wizard, albeit with red hair. The ginger minger's role in the clearance of thirsty Charlie Kennedy, who remains a Highland hero, and championing of the Laird of Fife, Sir Ming Campbell, in the Lib Dem freak show is judged a grave betrayal. When Danny Potter (or should that be Harry Alexander?) entered the hotel's pub quiz, a team changed its name to "Charlie Kennedy Buys His Round" in protest.

Conspiracy theorists whisper darkly of a Downing Street bugging scandal after a Blair press conference is abruptly cancelled with the hacks already in the building. Telly red-meat eaters - Sky's Jon Craig, ITN's Libby Wiener and the BBC's James Hardy - plotted in No 10's waiting room to ambush the premier on the peculiar views of the dissident member for Windsor West, aka the Prince of Wales, rather than relations with Iceland, ostensible reason for their audience. No sooner had they completed conspiring than - hey presto! - an underling pops in to announce the presser is off. The terrible trio vow to murmur next time.

Troubled Olympian Tessa "That'll Do Nicely" Jowell's difficulties over a swiftly repaid £400,000 mortgage and all that have allowed her to renew a friendship with Alastair Campbell. The master of obfuscation is advising Miss Moneybags on how to parry troublesome questions about alleged bribes and tax dodges. The north Londoners go back a long way, Ali C helping Jowell since the late 1980s. This is a big ask, even for him.

Little Alan Milburn's failed to land William Hague's old £200,000 column in the Screws of the World. The paper wanted a bitter Blairite and he fitted that bill perfectly. But after a couple of guest appearances, they found he could talk the talk though not write the right.

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

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