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From Dozy Dave to Saint Stella

Kevin Maguire's Commons Confidential.

Dozy Dave’s daughter Nancy is lucky Daddy remembered which pub he’d left her in – because the Premier doesn’t always recall where he’s been. A while back, Cameron posed as the people’s toff by assuring the BBC’s Nick Robinson that he was an ordinary chap who did the weekly shopping at Sainsbury’s. The statement may surprise an elderly lady with a Pekinese and a Hyacinth Bucket accent who accosted your columnist in a Westminster street to demand I desist from being beastly about her hero. He’d been ever so nice, purred the lady, whenever she’d seen him shopping in west London. Not at Sainsbury’s but Waitrose, an upmarket emporium that doesn’t convey how we’re all in this together.

Ken Livingstone has retained an ability to laugh at himself since his defeat by the Tory press, hedge-fund capital, the Aussie trickster Lynton Crosby and their candidate Boris Johnson. The tax affairs of Company Ken provided opponents with a way to avoid discussion of policies during May’s London mayoral bunfight. Bumping into a newly elected London Assembly member, Tom Copley, Livingstone asked the youngish Labour starlet how much he earned before winning the £53,439-a-year seat. Copley, a thirtysomething former campaigner for the anti-fascist group Hope Not Hate, replied around £25,000. “In that case,” Livingstone smirked, “I better put you in touch with my accountant.”

Sterling work against loan sharks, legal and otherwise, is earning Stella Creasy foes as well as friends. The Walthamstow anti-Wonga warrior’s CV includes a doctorate, dib-dib-dibbing for the Scouts, worthy toil for a group called Involve and writing speeches for a string of Labour ministers, including Douglas Alexander. Missing, Clegg-style, is – according to a former colleague of Saint Stella’s – her spell at the lobbyists Burson-Marsteller. That sounds intriguing.

David Cameron’s appointment of a couple of peers as co-chairs of the Conservative Party – Lady Warsi of Rupert’s Recipes and Lord Feldman of Good Pals – is proving one of the Buller Boy’s clumsier calls. A right-whinger muttered that the people’s toff treats the organisation as if it were a fiefdom. The Tory peasants, declared my snout, are revolting. I couldn’t have put it better myself.

Eric Pickles, the sumo minister, has a fan in the trade union movement. The GMB’s Paul Kenny, no size zero as a general secretary, quipped that he dreams of being photographed next to Big Eric so he appears on the slim side. Poor Pickles. Cameron’s pet northerner is a serious man yearning to be taken seriously, yet he’s mocked on the left as well as the right.

The un-healthy minister, Simon Burns, confessed a weakness for cigarettes but denied this column’s previous assertion that he’s a chain-smoker. Now we’ve cleared the air on that, an informant whispers that the Essex Tory was overheard boasting that a hospital wing in Chelmsford is named in his honour. The department? The Burns Unit. Nurse!

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 18 June 2012 issue of the New Statesman, Drones: video game warfare