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Jog on, Steve Hilton

Dave's departing fuzzy thinker cut a lonely figure on Cameron's jamboree to Obama.

There's nobody as ex as an ex-guru. Dave's departing fuzzy thinker, Steve Hilton, cut a lonely figure on Cameron's jamboree to see the premier's new best friend, Barack Obama. Informants report the Downing Street inner circle has closed again and left Shoeless Steve padding outside in his stockinged feet. The isolation of Hilton, inseparable from Dave in a long-gone era when the boys went to the Arctic to hug a husky, saw him banished to the press bus when the party travelled from Washington, DC to Andrews Air Force Base. Shoeless Steve sat on a kerb outside asecurity hut, largely ignored even by the travelling press pack, while other officials enjoyed the red-carpet treatment.

No rapprochement, I hear, between those warring former Downing Street neighbours, Gordon Brown and Alistair Darling. The Scottish brothers-in-arms fell out spectacularly, swapping comradeship for cudgels when Irn Broon appointed Nobody's Darling his successor as chancellor, only to keep doing the job himself while prime minister. When asked how Irn Broon was doing, Nobody's Darling raised his bushy eyebrows, whispered my snout, and replied that the man was going mad.

The looping of pink ribbons from cloakroom pegs to allow members to hang weapons banned in the chamber is one of the quainter traditions in a House of Commons that is part legislature, part Disney theme park. An informant with the overcoat noted toy swords dangling from the loops of Derbyshire's Natascha Engel, Airdrie's Pamela Nash and Vale of Clwyd's Chris Ruane. The chap grumbled to me that the wooden and plastic blades of Labour's Three Musketeers were a rare sighting of fighting spirit in a dispirited Parliamentary Labour Party.

To Esher Place, a Grade II-listed country house in Surrey owned by Unite, to train a cadre of union officials. Viscount d'Abernon donated the sweeping pile in 1930 to the Ragged Schools Union to house destitute children. After the Second World War, the Electrical Trades Union acquired the house, which was once graced by Edward VII. Unite's former general secretary Derek "Del Boy" Simpson installed a panic button in the master bedroom, on the grounds that PM Broon may have been a guest. He never was. Others suggest Del Boy was terrified a lay member might find his or her way into the building.

Spotted jogging in Clissold Park, London, was the shadow chancellor, Ed "Beefy" Balls. The surprised passer-by spluttered that the amateur chef's black Lycra outfit made Balls resemble a plump Milk Tray Man. Others may wonder if he's running for the Labour leadership.

The Northern Ireland viceroy, Owen Paterson, is a right-whinger who preaches austerity. A sober assessment of his department uncovers one potential saving. The Northern Ireland Office has spent £12,250 on wine for receptions since the general election but nothing on water.
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 26 March 2012 issue of the New Statesman, Mission impossible