It’s ermine and red roses as Labour peers discuss welcoming a Benn back into the House of Lords. My snout in the scarlet robe whispered that Stephen Benn, the eldest son of the deceased Tony, is keen to sit on the burgundy benches now that he has acquired the hereditary title renounced by Daddy. For the new 3rd Viscount Stansgate to bag a seat, one of the four Labour hereditaries (the 3rd Viscount Hanworth, the 18th Baron Berkeley, the 4th Baron Ponsonby or the 3rd Baron Rea) must shuffle off this mortal coil. Tony Blair reprieved 92 blue bloods in all and, under a peculiarly British constitutional oxymoron, the hereditaries elect replacements from a gene pool of 200 registered peers. The snout added that Baron Rea, an 86-year-old retired GP, is in no hurry to make way for Stansgate. “I would very much welcome Stephen Benn into the Lords,” he was overheard musing, “but I for one have no intention of popping off just yet.”
Michael Gove proclaimed loudly at a dinner: “Don’t worry, it’s just one more year.” What could he have meant? I refuse to believe rumours that the Education Secretary would relish a return to journalism. He hails from the Times, yet the talk is of Gove joining his scribbler wife, Sarah Vine, at the Daily Mail.
Gove’s appointment of Scotland Yard’s one-time anti-terror chief Peter Clarke to investigate the alleged Islamist infiltration of Birmingham schools was a paranoid overreaction. Clarke’s sleuthing was on show at a seminar on policing and technology at the National Liberal Club. Fiddling with his BlackBerry, he was overheard muttering: “God, I have never learned to work this thing.” Evidently he’s an old-style copper.
To Jarrow, where Jude Kirton-Darling, the newly elected north-east Labour MEP, recalled a £2,000 donation to the party from a Durham stonemason. On the back of the cheque was scribbled: “Don’t f*** it up.” Who said business doesn’t support Labour?
Ed Miliband’s lost battle with a bacon sarnie prompted a No 10 flunkey to mutter that David Cameron is banned by staff from eating in public after the Great Hot Dog Meltdown of March 2012. The Prime Muncher didn’t know how to tackle an American dawg handed to him by Barack Obama at a college basketball game. Dave, the answer is longways, not sideways.
I forgive right-wingers many things but not a sense of humour. The Mail’s Simon Heffer was tickled by this column’s report a fortnight ago that it is said he lay on the floor to minimise his chins in a photo shoot. The Heff responded that if he did lie on a floor, he’d never be able to get up again.
Kevin Maguire is the associate editor (politics) of the Daily Mirror