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My man in the mankini

MPs and peers invited to Her Maj’s jubilee garden parties (the usual excuse of sheepish Labour Roundheads is that they attend because – snort – the wife wanted to go) were miffed to be told that photography was not permitted but a £19.50 DVD of the day was on sale. Liz certainly knows how to make a profit after 60 years. I suspect that not even Baroness Warsi would try to get a royal movie past the expenses police. Green parking passes for chauffeurs were included in invitation packs. The Queen has yet to realise that most members of both Houses of Parliament do not travel in the style to which she is accustomed.

Much talk in Lib Dem circles of Nick Clegg’s bag carrier Jo Swinson packing her own suitcases for a 400-mile trip to Bath. Parliamentary private secretary to the Deputy Prime Minister, Swinson will lose her East Dunbartonshire seat to Labour thanks to Boundary Commission surgeons. My snout claims young Swinson has been sniffing around Bath where Don Foster, a Lib Dem pensioner, is tipped to opt for a quieter life after the 2015 election.

Another attraction of the Georgian city is that Somerset is much nearer than Scotland to her significant other – Duncan Hames, Lib Dem MP for Chippenham in the neighbouring county of Wiltshire. It’s happy families meets musical chairs. Hames is also eyeing up a new seat, Trowbridge, because boundary changes paint his seat blue. The domestic arrangementsof Labour’s Mr and Mrs Westminster, Ed Balls and Yvette Cooper, sound Easy Street in comparison.

Is the porn proprietor Richard “Dirty Des” Desmond suddenly impervious to the charms of Alastair Campbell? Dirty Des and his henchman Paul Ashford were spied in their Thames-side lair with Ali C. In New Labour’s glory days, Dirty Des slipped the party £100,000 and bought the Daily Express from the Labour peer Clive Hollick.

My man in the mankini reported how the spinner – who under the pen name “Riviera Gigolo” wrote soft porn for the smutty Forum magazine – fancied a series on Dirty Des’s Channel 5, and not his hardcore Television X.

Instead, Campbell has taken the lobbyist’s shilling. He has thrown in his lot with Tim Allan’s McDonald’s-to-Mars-bars outfit Portland, which isn’t averse to banking Putin’s tarnished roubles.

I noticed newspapers erroneously lauding David Cameron and William Hague for inviting the world poster girl for democracy, Aung San Suu Kyi, to address both Houses of Parliament in Westminster Hall on 21 June.

Readers who cast their minds back to this column in April may recall that it is John Bercow who should be garlanded. The Commons Speaker defied the stuffed shirts, led by the aristocratic Lord Strathclyde of Hereditary Title and Land, who complained that the Burmese heroine was a commoner, not a head of state.

Bercow, an Essex taxi driver’s son, is emerging as a finer champion of democracy and parliament than many of his predecessors and a fair few of his contemporaries.

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 11 June 2012 issue of the New Statesman, A-Z of Iran