The dead hand of Tory HQ is a running joke in Conservative circles. In the run-up to the local elections, the Prime Minister was packed off to Lancashire and trailed by TV cameras to Buckshaw Village, just outside Chorley. There, David Cameron put on a hard hat and high-vis jacket to lay the foundations for the Tory victory, which, of course, failed to materialise. So far, so controlled spin. Until, that is, Dave was ushered in to a prearranged chat with a nice couple, Amy and Neil, who’d recently purchased a Barratt home. Just the type of aspirational couple that Dave the Builder might hope would vote for a Tory councillor. Except, according to my snout, this happy Mr & Mrs weren’t registered on the electoral roll at their new address. Another dazzling Tory triumph.
The Ukip barfly Nigel Farage has, I hear, made overtures to Nadine Dorries, the MP for Limbo Land. The conversations are more detailed than hitherto publicly acknowledged. Farage is desperate to have a Ukip MP and Dorries fits the bill, as a right-wing, Eurosceptic Con with her own seat. Still hurting from a Nad Attack on “two posh boys who don’t know the price of a pint of milk” – a blue-on-blue strike more damaging than any Labour hit –Dave and George the Buller Boys oppose restoring the whip, suspended nearly six months ago after Nadine’s I’m a Celebrity . . . jungle jaunt. Unless they swallow their pride, the odds may shorten on Mid Beds acquiring a Ukip MP.
His Marxist historian father, Ralph, and CND mother, Marion, make Ed Miliband Labour royalty. I’ve discovered that the Labour leader also has something in common with real royalty: like the Queen, he doesn’t carry cash. On an incursion into Cameron’s Witney backyard, Miliband twice cadged from his aide James Stewart. First he needed a few quid to buy a red tie, then a second subvention to purchase a copy of the Big Issue from a street seller who had more money on him than the man who wants to be prime minister. In-the-Red Ed promised to repay his personal banker. He won’t want borrowing and spending to become a question of individual credibility as well as economic competence.
The Daily Express, a rag styling itself the “world’s greatest newspaper”, was an early cheerleader of the Faragists. Westminster hacks increasingly speculate if its chief political commentator, Patrick O’Flynn, will run for Ukip in the 2014 Euro elections. The hope in the party is he will. The journo himself is uncharacteristically evasive when asked.
Alan Bennett is David Miliband’s parting gift to South Shields. The morose playwright was booked to speak in the town next year before the former foreign secretary decided to set sail for America. Disappointment and tragedy run, appropriately, through Bennett’s works.
Kevin Maguire is the associate editor (politics) of the Daily Mirror