His other car is a limo

To the seaside and the first UK leg of Tony B the fading crooner's farewell global tour. At a truculent TUC in Brighton, the distressed No 10 roadie Nyta Clarke was overheard whispering, "It's all over, it's over" to a handful of tearful Blairite groupies. To a larger band of brothers and sisters, shedding crocodile tears or creased up with laughter, she insisted, somewhat implausibly, that "my boy's done well". What with all this singing from two hymn sheets, the spinning, reassuringly, will continue until the bitter end.

The scramble for jobs is well under way as No 10 rats prepare to flee the bunker. Tony B's sniper-in-chief, Jonathan Powell, is offering to go into exile. The most irreconcilable of the Downing Street ultras, whose views of Big Gordie make Charlie Clarke's abuse sound sober, Powell Minor is said to harbour ambitions of becoming Our Man in Washington. Brownites surprisingly suggest that a Prime Minister Gordie might play fairy godmother, granting Powell's wish before reverting to type. Washington, Tyne & Wear, is probably not the place Toff Powell has in mind.

The letter that was never sent from a dozen of Labour's 2005 intake, demanding Tony B's head, would have exposed the first Brownite split. My plotter with the list rang to report the inclusion of Ian Austin, Big Gordie's former press secretary, but the absence of Ed Balls, the Chancellor's brain. The idea, I'm told, was to confuse Downing Street and avoid a second ministerial resignation after the suicide attack of Osama Bin Watson, the kamikaze kid. Three of the '05 MPs - the throwback tendency's David Anderson, Linda Riordan and Katy Clark - refused to sign because it included a passage praising the achievements of "new" Labour.

Ming the Mediocre is unlikely to find crowds begging for more at his party's annual sandalthon. Indeed, he may be playing to an empty hall. The Liberal Democrats released 150 rooms reserved at the Metropole Hotel in Brighton, the punters unaccountably resisting the lure of Ming's Edwardian oratory. Labour is hatching a wheeze for when its own post-Blair jamboree returns to the Sussex resort in 2008 and 2009: hoteliers complain of a cash-for-beds scandal, with the party planning to slap a secret £5-a-night levy on every room.

Make of this what you will. Lord Falconer of Luncheon, who holds the unconstitutional post of Tony's First Flatmate, was spotted climbing into a red Porsche in Knightsbridge. Number plate? LAW 48. My informant thought he saw a sticker saying "My other car's a government limousine".

Pity John McDonnell, poor lefty, who missed the media by arriving late for a Morning Star launch of his me-for-leader campaign. He'd set off early to drive to Brighton but became stuck in a bikers' rally, hundreds of leather-clad petrolheads blocking the road. McDonnell's camp blames Blairite and/or Brownite outriders.

Stopped on hols by a chap who recognised him off the telly, that Bilko lookalike, Nick Robinson, beamed until it emerged the chap thought Robinson was Jon Sopel, fellow BBC hack. Opinion is split over who should be most offended.

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

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