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Labour can't see aye to aye

Whipping up trouble.

Labour whips are struggling with deferred divisions, the recently introduced practice of voting on pink slips to save MPs trooping through the lobbies. A text message advising “Vote No on all” one week was followed an hour later by the correction: “Vote Aye, No and No.” Whips realised they had inadvertently asked MPs to oppose a clampdown on sex offenders. The following week, the message said: “Vote No (honestly!).” Oops.

Liam Byrne has lost his Labour policy job but he’s caught the eye of Viz magazine. The Beano for adults rips into the egghead shadow work-harder secretary, depicting the one-time management consultant as a humourless Brummie accusing foreigners of coming to Britain and stealing the nation’s joy. Viz was obsessed for a long time with Stephen Pound, claiming that the Ealing Lip had the biggest member in the Commons. Viz sent Pound a letter saying it might be libellous but it didn’t think he’d sue. The mag was right.

David Cameron stars alongside the Murdochs, Rupert and James, Wendi Deng and Jonnie "Lost His" Marbles in Leves Misérables: the Phone-Hacking Inquiry Musical. The skit, written by Three Humens Comedy and directed by the Radio 4 What the Papers Say "voice" Laurence Dobiesz and Jack Shanks, is on YouTube. Police horses, country suppers and now a musical? It’s the ridicule Cameron won’t be able to stand.


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 16 July 2012 issue of the New Statesman, Age of Crisis