Tricky Dicky: Richard Desmond in June. Photo: Getty
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Common Confidential: Dirty Des flirts with Nige to make Dave jealous

My informant whispered that Dirty Des is frustrated that a £1.2bn fortune has bought him everything except respect.

Richard Desmond yearns to be embraced by the establishment. In flirting with Nigel Farage, the media tycoon might hope to catch David Cameron’s eye. My informant whispered that Dirty Des is frustrated that a £1.2bn fortune has bought everything except respect. He donates noisily to charities and yet critics whisper disapprovingly about Horny Housewives and TV porn. So Dirty Des, who slipped Tony Blair £100,000 in 2001, canoodles with Nigel to make Dave jealous. But would Desmond guarantee his newspapers’ election support for the Tories rather than Ukip if Cameron recognised the pornographer’s contribution to public life? Arise, Sir Dirty Des, or Lord Desmond of Asian Babes?

The Twitter spat between Labour’s Ivan Lewis and Tom Watson over the party’s contest for a new leader in Scotland continued, I’m told, when the pair bumped into each other outside Ed Miliband’s office. Ed’s aide Anna Yearley had to ask the battling MPs to pipe down because the interns were disturbed by the swearing. On the upside, both Lewis and Watson showed a fighting spirit often lacking in the leadership.

With austerity cuts of £1.5m imposed on Kew Gardens, Chancellor George Osborne is as popular with staff threatened by redundancy as a plague of locusts. This could prove tricky. A mole muttered that Osborne’s mother, Lady Felicity, gives her son a season ticket to the botanical gardens as an annual gift.

The Goulash Co-operative, formed to buy the Gay Hussar restaurant in London, is to stage an all-day “eat-in” on 8 December after the Malaysian owners refused to sell the Soho haunt, which is still threatened with closure. Union Jimmys Airlie and Reid, who led the 1971 Upper Clyde Shipbuilders work-in to save the shipyard from Ted Heath’s axe, will be smiling as they chew their celestial sandwiches.

It’s the end of a Sunday sofa era as Barney Jones steps down after over 20 years as editor, first of Breakfast with Frost, and then of The Andrew Marr Show. Jones has often been filmed at the entrance to the BBC meeting leaders of the opposition and prime ministers. A school caretaker once remarked they did similar jobs, clearing up after others. Jones, to his credit, agreed.

I owe a Tory informant an eclair after Jeremy Paxman confirmed this column’s disclosure in July that the Conservatives wanted him to run for London mayor. Pity, really. I’d have loved to watch Paxman’s former BBC colleagues grill a poacher-turned-gamekeeper.

Being Mark Reckless is a lonely business. The Tory defector to Ukip was spied eating lunch alone, facing the wall, in parliament’s terrace café. 

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 04 December 2014 issue of the New Statesman, Deep trouble

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The US intelligence leaks on the Manchester attack are part of a disturbing pattern

Even the United States' strongest allies cannot rely on this president or his administration to keep their secrets.

A special relationship, indeed. British intelligence services will stop sharing information with their American counterparts about the Manchester bombing after leaks persisted even after public rebukes from Amber Rudd (who called the leaks "irritating") and Michael Fallon (who branded them "disappointing").

In what must be a diplomatic first, Britain isn't even the first of the United States' allies to review its intelligence sharing protocols this week. The Israeli government have also "reviewed" their approach to intelligence sharing with Washington after Donald Trump first blabbed information about Isis to the Russian ambassador from a "close ally" of the United States and then told reporters, unprompted, that he had "never mentioned Israel" in the conversation.

Whether the Manchester leaks emanate from political officials appointed by Trump - many of whom tend to be, if you're feeling generous, cranks of the highest order - or discontent with Trump has caused a breakdown in discipline further down the chain, what's clear is that something is very rotten in the Trump administration.

Elsewhere, a transcript of Trump's call to the Philippine strongman Rodrigo Duterte in which the American president revealed that two nuclear submarines had been deployed off the coast of North Korea, has been widely leaked to the American press

It's all part of a clear and disturbing pattern, that even the United States' strongest allies in Tel Aviv and London cannot rely on this president or his administration to keep their secrets.

Stephen Bush is special correspondent at the New Statesman. His daily briefing, Morning Call, provides a quick and essential guide to British politics.

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