Londoner Edward Miliband has a Yorkshire rebellion on his hands. Trade union tykes on the party’s national executive committee, led by Unison’s speaks-her-mind Wendy Nichols, gave him a reet ear-bashing over the exclusion of White Rose county folk from the controversial Rotherham by-election. Nichols complained of anti-Yorkshire discrimination, citing Doncaster where one of the town’s MPs is a leading light in the capital’s Primrose Hill Labourati: Ed M himself. Mili waffled nervously, my informant recounted, as half a dozen on the NEC had a dig. Sarah Champion from Derbyshire duly won the potentially tricky Rotherham contest for Labour, but not before the hospice manager, a member of the party for all of two years, was ordered to change her script. Telling voters that “Rotherham needs respect” was judged risky when George Galloway’s Respect was standing a candidate of its own.
Who is David Cameron more afraid of – Hugh Grant and Steve Coogan or Paul Dacre and Tony Gallagher? No 10’s calculation, whispered a Tory snout, is that the Prime Minister needs the Daily Mail and Torygraph on his side more than he does a couple of hacked-off actors. Raw power made Leveson a Downing Street no-brainer.
I see onetime chorister Chuka Umunna is hosting a “Festive Media Reception” in place of the usual Christmas drinks and nibbles. Sounds very One Nation Labour. I like to think this column’s leg-pulling, after he invited an elite few to a summer soirée, persuaded the shadow biz sec to issue a general Decembrist welcome to Her Majesty’s Disloyal Lobby. Some things, however, never change. The Ambitious One is staging the glitzy event in the grand Smeaton Room of the Institution of Civil Engineers. And he’s persuaded a City firm to sponsor his wine and canapés. Ed Miliband, perhaps next-generation Rachel Reeves too, should beware.
Coincidentally, junior political scribblers uninvited to Umunna’s summer bash have formed a dining fraternity of their own. The young pens call it the Lower Rung Club after a suggestion of Future Political Editors’ Club was judged both vainglorious and provocative to the lobby boss class. To underline the belowstairs status of members in hierarchical Westminster journalism, hacks face expulsion from the club if Cameron’s Miss Moneypenny, Gabby Bertin, ever deigns to return a telephone message or Dave calls them by name at a press conference.
Tory chief scaredy-cat Michael Fabricant took some stick after waving his Europhobic white hankie in the direction of Ukip. Labour MPs exploited mercilessly an opportunity to wig Mickey for what resembles a mannequin’s head dressed in one of Barbara Windsor’s luxurious hair pieces. Hansard stenographers dutifully turned a deaf ear to a Labour barrage about fringe politics, partitions and partings. Fabricant grinned and bore it, doubtless eager to prove he’s an authentic Tory not a Whig.
Deepening austerity and desperation is forcing supermarkets, an MP with a seat in northern England assured me, to relabel food. On shelves, sell-by dates are replaced with steal-by limits.
Kevin Maguire is associate editor (politics) of the Daily Mirror