Maria Miller by Dan Murrell
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Commons Confidential: Maria Miller’s genuine draught

The Tory backbencher formerly known as the culture secretary had to queue at the bar like everyone else. Meanwhile Chuka and Tristram dodged the proles. 

Sunshine brings on to the Commons terrace MPs who are rarely seen with a drink in their hand. My snouts saw the Tory backbencher formerly known as the culture secretary Maria Miller queuing in Strangers’ Bar for two glasses of white wine and a pint of lager. Before that ghastly business of her expenses, the Basingstoke MP would have had a special adviser to fetch and carry her beverages. Needs must and all that, so there was Miller, patiently waiting her turn with hoi polloi from politics. If she had glanced over her shoulder, she might have spilled her drinks. Immediately behind the skewered ex-minister was the Bassetlaw Bruiser, John Mann, Miller’s smiling assassin. Revenge
is a drink best drunk cold.

Members of Labour’s northern working-class contingent grumbled into their beers during a rare sighting of Chuka Umunna and Tristram Hunt on the terrace. A blabber recounted how hackles were raised by the party posh boys strolling past the proles to sit at a table at the far end, near Big Ben. The northerners speculated (groundlessly, I’m sure) that Umunna and Hunt were plotting against Ted Miliband, despite the Obama adviser David Axelrod’s £300,000 city break in London. MPs arguing that the exclusion was social, not political, claimed victory when the Tory banker Kwasi Kwarteng, one of Cameron’s brigade of Old Etonians, pulled up a chair to join the posh boys.

Observed striding through Portcullis House with a My Little Pony spring in her step was Claire Perry. It took this column’s squealer a few moments to compute what gave the not-so-humble whip the Katie Price air of attention-seeking. Swinging ostentatiously at Perry’s side was a ministerial red box, the ultimate political Viagra. Except whips aren’t presented with red boxes. The job requires charm and thumbscrews, not a leather document case. Was Perry carrying the bag for another minister? If so, she was so close yet still so far from a coveted box of her own.

The union bods Tony Burke and Allan Black deserve a footnote in the AstraZeneca-Pfizer battle. My man at the business committee giggled when the brothers plopped themselves down immediately behind the US drug company’s financial alchemist, Ian Read, after giving their evidence against the proposed snatch to the committee. The seats are ordinarily reserved for advisers. The union occupation prevented Pfizer’s team from passing notes to Read, who was up next. As sit-down protests go, it worked comfortably.

Labour MPs voting for Rory Stewart as chair of the defence committee because he’s an Old Etonian may have gifted victory to a Tory cattily called “Florence of Arabia” behind his back.

Kevin Maguire is the 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 21 May 2014 issue of the New Statesman, Peak Ukip

Matt Cardy/Getty Images
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What did Jeremy Corbyn really say about Bin Laden?

He's been critiqued for calling Bin Laden's death a "tragedy". But what did Jeremy Corbyn really say?

Jeremy Corbyn is under fire for describing Bin Laden’s death as a “tragedy” in the Sun, but what did the Labour leadership frontrunner really say?

In remarks made to Press TV, the state-backed Iranian broadcaster, the Islington North MP said:

“This was an assassination attempt, and is yet another tragedy, upon a tragedy, upon a tragedy. The World Trade Center was a tragedy, the attack on Afghanistan was a tragedy, the war in Iraq was a tragedy. Tens of thousands of people have died.”

He also added that it was his preference that Osama Bin Laden be put on trial, a view shared by, among other people, Barack Obama and Boris Johnson.

Although Andy Burnham, one of Corbyn’s rivals for the leadership, will later today claim that “there is everything to play for” in the contest, with “tens of thousands still to vote”, the row is unlikely to harm Corbyn’s chances of becoming Labour leader. 

Stephen Bush is editor of the Staggers, the New Statesman’s political blog.