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Sir Hapless goes to see FC

The restoration programme to save the inept George Osborne’s crumbling reputation is taking another knock. He is unable to put a foot right at the moment: the baronet’s son recently popped up as a Chelsea fan in Germany, requiring the Chancer of the Exchequer to prove he’s no Tony Blair football phoney.

The latest group angered by Osborne is that of MPs overseeing £160m of repairs and improvements to the Palace of Westminster. Sir Hapless
has slapped 20 per cent VAT on a portion of the bill. One of the unhappy parliamentary band mused that Chelsea winning the European Cup was miraculous when the team was burdened by the curse of Osborne’s support.

To Liverpool for the Aslef conference, where the union’s leadership derailed a call to hold a day of celebration when Maggie Thatcher passes away. Drivers in the Feltham Electric branch argued that she caused so much harm that her final departure will not deserve a state funeral. That may be so, but the meeting spied what would have been a PR disaster and slammed on the brakes.

Rules is rules, the cry of jobsworths through the ages, is heard in the House of Cronies. The authorities have banned Oona King from carrying her third and youngest adopted child, eight-month-old Ariel, into the division lobby.

The baroness is required to hand the infant to a waiting peer before voting, collecting the baby on the way out. My titled informant reports that there’s no shortage of clucking minders and that Baby King is more alert than many a doddery peer.

Osborne’s nodding dog Danny “Beaker” Alexander should avoid Vince Cable’s mistake if, as expected, the Liberal Democrats’ Treasury cutter-in-chief addresses the GMB congress next month. The Business Secretary last year briefed in advance that he would read the riot act  – and provoked a fiery backlash.

My snout with the yellow rosette muttered that Beaker’s attendance is intended to signal that the Lib Dems are friendlier to unions than the party’s coalition partners, Clegg’s lot sharing hostility to the sacking charter of the Tory-donating venture capitalist Adrian Beecroft.

The Treasury Chief Secretary will need to find hitherto undetected charm, anyway, since Beaker is requiring public employees to work longer and pay more for a lower pension – if they’re lucky enough to keep a job.

To Brighton to speak at a meeting on welfare and housing organised by the Sussex wing of the Labour Representation Committee. The turnout was, it’s fair to say, sparse – compared to the crush a week earlier for Tony Benn, who’s grown in popularity the longer he’s been out of parliament.

The chair announced a ban on swearing, with the rider that she’d permit “a Jeremy” or “that Tory Hunt” as euphemisms. The session ended with “The Red Flag”, the lyrics to Jim Connell’s socialist anthem left on the seats to avoid any John Redwood-style miming embarrassments. I bet Benn knows all the words by heart.

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 28 May 2012 issue of the New Statesman, Who speaks for British Jews?