Commons Confidential

avid Cameron’s black mood over the dissing of his fellow Old Etonian Sir George Young by Grange Hill’s John Bercow is unlikely to be lifted by the identity of the Speaker’s first two visitors. Ignoring the protests of flunkeys, Comprehensive Boy Bercow’s Labour enforcer Martin Salter and the Campaign Group lefty Diane Abbott barged uninvited into the palatial apartment by the Thames to congratulate Comrade Conservative. Matchbox-sized Bercow looked unnerved, I hear, when clutched to Abbott’s bosom before enduring a manly bear hug from A’Salter. The pair then departed to join Labour celebrations for a Tory victory over Druggie Dave.

Simon Lewis, mobile phone salesman, is to be wrapped in cotton wool when he cancels his Vodafone contract for a Downing Street one. The departing spinner Mike Ellam has agreed to stay on for a fortnight after Lewis arrives on 13 July to ease the corporate suit into the job. Gordon Brown’s new mouthpiece will not
find his voice until October, when he’ll be on parade at the twice-daily lobby briefings.

The questions, I suspect, will be more esoteric than usual in an attempt to catch him out. A snout muttered he’d heard the phoneman used to go shooting. All snippets appreciated on the usual no-fingerprints basis.

Academia may not be Brown’s sole destination, whenever he departs No 10. The Talibrown speculate about the Lords. John Major and Tony Blair gave the rest home a miss, avoiding the need to register lucrative interests. But a Lord Brown of Kirkcaldy lecturing on economics for a living would have no huge earners to hide. I note Brown’s never supported a wholly elected upper chamber, voting to retain a fifth of seats for the great and, perhaps, the Gord.

Big Gordie denies throwing mobile phones around the room – doubtless a relief for Lewis – but pens are a different matter. Scribbling with a nice little writer is Sky’s camera-ready Adam Boulton. The pen was the PM’s until he chucked it down in a rage after a grilling on television. Now it’s Boulton’s memento.

Another of Druggie Dave’s Brigade of Old Etonians, little Oli Letwin, was prepared to ignore the school tie and nominate Bercow for Speaker until the Tory leader banned frontbenchers publicly endorsing runners. Big Gordie took a more relaxed view. Hence a pro-Bercow letter to Labour MPs on the day of the votes signed by, among others, the cabinet culture vulture,

Ben Bradshaw. Point two noted that “Labour, as the party of government, has been disproportionately damaged” by the expenses row and Bercow would “start to repair that damage”. Quite so.

The Guardian urged a vote for the bicycling baronet Sir George Young on the morning that Bercow was elected Speaker with a 51-MP majority. After the paper’s failed coup against Brown, a semi-delirious Labour MP shouted that a Grauniad endorsement these days is the Fleet Street equivalent of Robert Louis Stevenson’s black spot.

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

Kevin Maguire is Associate Editor (Politics) on the Daily Mirror and author of our Commons Confidential column on the high politics and low life in Westminster. An award-winning journalist, he is in frequent demand on television and radio and co-authored a book on great parliamentary scandals. He was formerly Chief Reporter on the Guardian and Labour Correspondent on the Daily Telegraph.

This article first appeared in the 29 June 2009 issue of the New Statesman, The Great Escape