Fright night: George Osborne outside No 11 on 27 October. Photo: Getty
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Commons Confidential: Osborne’s nightmare on Downing Street

George’s back should be bleeding from the number of Tory knives plunged into him. 

Amid the talk of Labour’s Jim Murphy seeking a future in the Scottish Parliament, speculation grows in Scotland over whether it’ll be back to the future for Alex Salmond. The SNP separatist brushes aside questions about his possible (probable?) return to the UK parliament. My spy tells me the Tartan Chieftain is taking the temperature in the Westminster seat of Gordon, which overlaps with his Holyrood estate of Aberdeenshire East. Lib Dem grandee Malcolm Bruce retires next May and the 6,748 majority is considered vulnerable, with the SNP the runner-up last time around. The move would get Salmond out of SNP queen Nicola Sturgeon’s hair in Edinburgh and the capital of Scotland’s colonial occupiers isn’t without attractions for the former first minister. He seemed to enjoy London’s bars and betting shops when last an MP.

George Osborne’s back should be bleeding from the number of Tory knives plunged into him. Con MPs mumble darkly that the only long-term plan of the party’s chief election strategist is to manoeuvre his cronies into position so he’ll be crowned king when David Cameron is ousted or abdicates. The current target of the Tory disenchanted is Rupert Harrison, so posh he makes Trust Fund “Sir” George seem common. Harrison, Osborne’s brain at the Treasury, isn’t your run-of-the-mill Old Etonian like Dave or Boris. He’s a former head boy. The whisper is that a safe seat is Rupe’s for the asking. The Tory unfavoured, forced to knock on doors for years to secure a constituency, are resentful. One seething MP recalled canvassing a grand house in west London when the door was answered by a younger Rupert, who replied that he was voting Green.

I’m told vice-chair was the Labour role that ex-postie Alan Johnson, now promoting his second volume of memoirs, declined to remain a man of letters. Ed Miliband hasn’t given up on a one-time home secretary who speaks human. Johnson promised to do the rounds of TV and radio studios for the party in the new year. In the scrap for blue-collar votes, the mailman has the edge on Ukip’s Nigel Farage, as well as Tory posh boys. Johnson was heading for work when the City slicker Farage was reeling home from the pub.

A snout’s eye was drawn to a notice at the peers’ entrance to parliament listing locations of defibrillators. In the House of Cronies, the dead wood resists not only reform but the call to God’s waiting room.

Vanquished David Miliband keeps his cards close to his chest in New York, yet remains in touch with British soulmates. Asked what the elder Milibrother thinks of the younger’s performance, a prominent Labour figure who saw him recently replied: “David feels sorry for Ed.” 

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 29 October 2014 issue of the New Statesman, British jihadis fighting with Isis

New Statesman
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Quiz: Can you identify fake news?

The furore around "fake" news shows no sign of abating. Can you spot what's real and what's not?

Hillary Clinton has spoken out today to warn about the fake news epidemic sweeping the world. Clinton went as far as to say that "lives are at risk" from fake news, the day after Pope Francis compared reading fake news to eating poop. (Side note: with real news like that, who needs the fake stuff?)

The sweeping distrust in fake news has caused some confusion, however, as many are unsure about how to actually tell the reals and the fakes apart. Short from seeing whether the logo will scratch off and asking the man from the market where he got it from, how can you really identify fake news? Take our test to see whether you have all the answers.

 

 

In all seriousness, many claim that identifying fake news is a simple matter of checking the source and disbelieving anything "too good to be true". Unfortunately, however, fake news outlets post real stories too, and real news outlets often slip up and publish the fakes. Use fact-checking websites like Snopes to really get to the bottom of a story, and always do a quick Google before you share anything. 

Amelia Tait is a technology and digital culture writer at the New Statesman.