Dinner of despair

Vodafone Dave, the brand that is Tory leader, is earning a dodgy reputation for plugging sponsors. Labour types mutter that the Jura whisky picked as a luxury item on Desert Island Discs is made by Tory donor Robert Tchenguiz while his chosen tome, the River Cottage Cookbook, is written by a fellow toff, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, whose cousin just happens to be married to Dave's brother.

At least he knows how to show a girl a good time on the cheap. Vodafone Dave booked a babysitter to take wife Sammy to meet Jonathan Woss in a BBC studio. The yummy mummy was, by all accounts, thrilled and giggled when Wossy asked if a young Vodafone Dave fantasised about the Rusty Lady.

A dwindling band of Blairite groupies gathered in Smith Square's Footstool Restaurant for a dinner of despair. Seated at the table in the brick-vaulted cellar were spied those No 10 diehards Matthew Taylor, Benji Wegg-Prosser and Ruth Turner. My source with the appetite watched as Turner summoned a waitress over to complain about the noise. Could the sound, requested Turner, be turned down to enable discussion of important issues of state. "No", was the reply. The music was an orchestra in St John's Church above.

Murmurs in new Labour lawyerly circles of Mrs Outgoing Premier's fury at her hubby picking a fight with himself over the Human Rights Act. Cherie Blair moans that Mr B opened the door to Vodafone Dave's right-wing assault. Indeed a lefty scribbler who praised the first lady for her stout defence of the act received a handwritten note of thanks. The shamefaced hack begged me not to name him so alas the identity of Mr C must, for now, remain secret.

To Cologne for the England-Sweden match and the sight of Nuke Gordon recoiling from a St George's flag thrust at him by a cheeky tabloid snapper. The William Wallace-turned- John Bull forced a thin smile for the camera, but displayed a marked reluctance to touch the emblem. His new-found English patriotism, I surmise, met its Bannockburn as three reluctant underlings were ordered to hold the offending item.

The Robominister John Reid's banishment of Steve "Master" Bates, the shouty spinner, was so brutal it was beautiful. Spinerette Anna Macmillan was unveiled as a new, softer messenger in Robominister's Home Office fortress. As Master Bates delivered a plate of food to his boss, Robominister announced: "This is Steve - he gets me my rolls."

Talk in Strangers turns to a fresh cut on the left cheek of Treasury bag-carrier Mark Tami who insists it's a duelling scar. Persistent interrogators extract the confession that it was inflicted by Mr Frosty, a Siamese cat. Taunting of Tami is ended by the sound of dropped glasses. Walking into the bar is Michael "Did I Really Vote for the Iraq war?" Meacher. Lord Lucan riding Shergar would be a less unlikely sight. The ex-minister's presence for the first time since Adam was a single bloke is viewed as confirmation that he'll run for the leadership.

This column's favourite Minger, Nick Clegg, is advertising for a researcher interested in "especially, though not exclusively, home affairs issues". As my yellow mole asks, what other task could ultra-ambitious Clegg have in mind when there is no leadership vacancy? Yet.

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