Show Hide image

Commons Confidential: Wanted - a dingo for Dave

Meet Lynton Crosby - Malcolm Tucker with an Aussie twang.

Quite a fandango during a backbench business committee session on Owen Paterson’s fatwa on Mr Brock the Badger. The crusade by the furry-loving Brian May, the Dr Dolittle of wrinkly rockers, had the lyrical lefty Ian Mearns, a fan of Queen if not the Queen, speaking in lines from the group’s operetta Bohemian Rhapsody.

The one-time British Gas worker from gritty Gateshead declared that he was “a poor boy from a poor family” but just because he’s “easy come, easy go”, it didn’t mean he was neutral on culling. The clincher was Mearns claiming to have spotted May – “I see a little silhouetto of a man” – in the room. My musical snout expressed relief that the Labour MP had chosen to recite lines from Bohemian Rhapsody and not “Fat Bottomed Girls”.

Lynton Crosby the attack dingo –Malcolm Tucker with an Aussie twang – snarled when I mentioned David Cameron earlier this year, adding (somewhat disparagingly, I felt) that he worked only for winners. Reservations about Dodgy Dave would add a couple of noughts to Crosby’s fee if he signed for a Tory party waving its fat chequebook. Rehiring a spinner behind Michael Howard’s failed immigration and Europe campaign of 2005 would point to a nastier edge to Cameron in 2015, after the greenwash of two years ago. Crosby masterminded Boris Johnson’s election and re-election in London but, I’m told, recognises that Posh Dave’s a tougher Buller Boy to sell.

The Tory boy James Morris represents some of Britain’s poorest people in the Black Country constituency of Halesowen and Rowley Regis. The businessman was an emergency pick of the local party after its previous choice, the former Birmingham Post editor Nigel Hastilow, selfcombusted by arguing that Enoch Powell was right on immigration. With Cameroon caring compassion fading, Hastilow might have been able to get away with such talk now but back then the electors needed to be duped.

At a time when voters are unable to pay their bills, Morris boasts on his constituency website that he averaged 12 batting for Oxford University. This has set tongues wagging – my informant calls the MP a white-flannelled fool. Meanwhile, I am intrigued at the similarities between Morris’s site and his Wikipedia profile, the latter reading as if someone cut and pasted large chunks from the former.

The saintly Chris Mullin has a cameo appearance as a vicar in Secret State, a new Channel 4 adaptation of his novel A Very British Coup. A grizzled veteran of Labour’s hardbitten right growled that the casting was perfect, recalling Mullin as Tony Benn’s Rasputin during the party’s civil war in the 1980s.

Mark Hoban, the unemployment minister, played up his roots in north-east England by boasting that he hails from Peterlee. The formidable North-West Durham MP, Pat Glass, was unimpressed. “We might all be from the north,” said the Labourite, “but the difference is our families aren’t ashamed of us.”

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 05 November 2012 issue of the New Statesman, What if Romney wins?