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Commons Confidential: Bruised egos and Rottweilers

The reshuffle repercussions racket around Westminster.

Dave the Sexist’s musical chairs bruised the egos of Tory women denied a seat in his butch game. Margot James, a willowy A-lister, was nurturing great expectations. In a stroke of luck (for me), a snout overheard her taking a call from No 10 outside the members’ tearoom, breaking the news that she’d been overlooked. “I’m deeply disappointed,” whined Sour of Stourbridge, “but I don’t want to ruin my reputation so I’m not going to make my disappointment evident.” Quite so. Chin up.

Chorley’s Lindsay Hoyle, a deputy Commons speaker with bite behind his bonhomie, has entered his pet Rottweiler in the Westminster Dog of the Year competition. The ninestone beast is called Gordon. Hoyle’s hound has a huge, clunking paw.

Britain would be a finer country if Sayeeda “Me-Me- Me” Warsi had fought as hard to save the jobs of
250,000 sacked public servants as she did her own. The statusconscious new “senior” minister of state demanded a bigger office, whispers my informant, the moment she was driven into the Foreign Office. Marching through Strangers’ Bar, two huge minders trailing, the demoted baroness pointed at “Tommy Gun” Watson and snarled: “You can stop being nasty to me now.” Odd. Warsi is one of the few Tories Tommy Gun hasn’t abused. Paranoia?

Hansard turned a deaf ear when the Labour militant miner Ronnie Campbell challenged the proletarian heritage of Patrick McLoughlin, Cameron the Buller Boy’s working-class human shield. Rough-hewn Ronnie’s shout of “You’re nothin’ but a bloody stone-dusting scab” mocked the Transport Secretary for working during the 1984-85 strike and questioned how often McMiner went underground. Stone dusters descended into the bowels of the earth to sprinkle rock fragments only when an explosion was feared. Prolier-than-thou is the new Labour-Tory battlefront.

Claire Perry was another Tory lady ignored by Dave the Sexist. Numerous colleagues named her, the defender of indefensible policies, always prepared to excuse a disaster, as the member who told her parliamentary staff that she couldn’t guarantee their employment once she was made a minister. The anticipated red box never arrived but the word is that a Tory MP, identified to your correspondent, was asked about vacancies by one of Perry’s nervous assistants. Hubris?

Back to the TUC drawing board to find a deputy to the new head honcho, Frances O’Grady. Union general secretaries objected that a job specification requiring applicants to hold a university degree set a terrible precedent. The likes of Paul Kenny and Len McCluskey would’ve been barred from their own jobs. The workers, united, will never be rusticated.

Publishing email addresses of transport ministers in Hansard, a public document, after Labour’s Gloria De Piero complained that MPs couldn’t send correspondence directly, is a risky business. Should Patrick. be swamped by complaints about late trains and traffic jams, his department is to blame.

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 17 September 2012 issue of the New Statesman, Who comes next?