Tight trousers

The 'Ull One, John Prescott, is digging another escape tunnel after Robominister John Reid placed him under house arrest during the airport terror show. Word from Prezza's much-shrunken cell of supporters is that he'll stand down as an MP at the general election. In a double-double with Tony Blair, Prezza will quit the Commons as well as the leadership alongside the outgoing premier.

Another whisper Oop North is the 'Ull East party wants Big Gordie's brain, Ed Balls, to motor along the M62 as a successor. With boundary commissioners axing Balls's Normanton base and Mrs Balls, aka Yvette Cooper, installed in Yorkshire, constituency officials are dusting down maps. Once released back into the community, the 'Ull One, by the way, still fancies himself as Lord Prezza of Humberside.

Disturbing mutterings for the first time in Camp Dave of a cooling in his friendship with George "Big Boy" Osborne. I make a note to discover what triggered the phrases "an accident", "waiting to happen", then Big Boy's name, all uttered under the same Cameroonian breath. The New Cons suffering a dose of new Labour's TB-GBs would make garden-fence politics decidedly tricky for the Notting Hellers. Wallpaper heir Big Boy moved this summer into a £1.75m Victorian villa around the corner from Dodgy Dave's £1.1m Edwardian semi.

To the BBC where my perusal of the newspapers was disturbed by an elderly geezer mumbling to himself in the corner. On closer inspection, it turned out to be Vince Cable, silken-tongued deputy leader of the Liberal Democrats. Vinny was rehearsing a string of soundbites on the Middle East which he duly delivered word-perfect on the telly. His interview technique, I discovered, is more "learn the answer" than "answer the question".

Sniggering in No 10 where the soon-to-depart policy-wonker, Matthew Taylor, is suspected, fairly or otherwise, of writing his own Wikipedia entry. The Downing Street thinking is that this item is so congratulatory, presenting him as a master of the universe famous for amusing anecdotes and witty one-liners, that no one else could be responsible.

Then there's his tight trousers and teenage elopement with a girl called Pandora. The mistake, say my scribes, is, as with so much government-inspired spin, the absence of balance.

Big tent politics will be back at Labour's Manchester conference with a giant marquee staging fringe moan-athons. The fear, however, is that there'll be too few bums on the seats. Party officers have been offered free hotel rooms to make up the numbers.

Distressing scenes Down Under amid reports of a group of Aussie and US longshoremen walking out of an international backslapping ceremony over the award of a gold medal to Lord Sir William Morris of Stab-in-the-Back. When Morris was plain Bill and boss of Britain's T&G union, militants accused him of selling striking Liverpool dock workers down the Mersey. As Marx didn't quite urge: "Workers of the World disunite!"

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