The merits of the socialist picnic

Spied on the yellowing grass of St James's Park: the socialist renewal picnic wing of the Parliamentary Labour Party. Between mouthfuls of warm bubbly and ham sarnie, a dozen Labour MPs discussed Alan Whitehead's claim that Engels was a political picnicker and why Tony Blair, who isn't, must quit this year for the good of the party. Oona King wandered by, uninvited on the grounds that the ex-MP and one-time Blair babe isn't sufficiently socialist.

Ungentlemanly behaviour towards Theresa May by Hoodie Dave's boys' club suggests the days in the shadow cabinet for the well-shod lady from Maidenhead may be numbered. Not one chap budged up when she entered the chamber, leaving a disconsolate shadow leader of the House to sit on the floor. Just as telling was the absence of frontbenchers at her last business questions. Talk is of her making way for Boris Johnson, an Old Etonian chum of Hoodie.

Spotted wearing what looked suspiciously like knee-high cowboy boots was Rosie Winterton, a close ally of Deputy Dawg John Prescott. No sign of that belt or stetson, though.

Your columnist's invitation to the mediaocracy nuptials of the outgoing Prime Minister's old friend Anji Hunter and the Sky man-mountain Adam Boulton inexplicably failed to arrive. My drunk at the do, however, watched Mrs Mortgage, aka culture vulture Tessa Jowell, cling limpet-like to a Cherie-less Blair. I am also informed that the former chief of general staff General Sir Michael Jackson is a thirsty soldier. That self-obsessed Times scribbler, Mary Ann "Me Me" Sieghart, made do with Jack "The Lad" Straw's 60th birthday bash after failing to gatecrash the A-list.

Jodhpur-wearing Kate "Tally" Hoey is hounded once again. Two new constituency Labour parties, Aberconwy and Chippenham, have passed motions demanding that the National Executive Committee discipline her for chairing the Countryside Alliance. This one promises to run and run, a bit like Reynard pursued by a pack of bloodthirsty dogs.

On the NEC, Peter Wheeler, that rare species known as a leader of the People's Party who lives in a council flat, rashly vowed to raise ten grand by the end of the year to cut the party's £27m debt. No stranger to the watering holes of Manchester, Wheeler was heard lamenting how he was sober when he made his promise and might now be forced to give up the devil's buttermilk to meet his target.

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

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