From beyond the grave, Dr David Kelly is humiliating Westminster's finest. As voting by viewers comes to a close, Kelly has built up a runaway lead in the Most Influential Politician category in Channel 4's political awards for 2003. The late weapons scientist looks set to thrash the other serious contenders: Robin Cook, George Galloway and the PM, in roughly that order.
Most Shameless Conduct Medal in the top-up fees affair goes to Martin "the assaulter" Salter, the Reading MP who offered five pieces of silver (note deflation since biblical times) to Tom Watson, a PPS and hesitant rebel, to turn his back on the revolt. Salter had already done a deal with the Great Thirst, Charles Clarke, on the timing of his own principled shift of position, which was duly announced in the Daily Telegraph the day before the vote.
George Dubbya Bush plans a surprise visit (his first) to Dublin during the early summer, in search of shamrock credentials. He hopes to get the Irish-American vote, which usually goes to the Democrats, in the November presidential elections. The Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern, can scarcely ask him to stay away, but Dublin already has a complicated schedule at the close of Ireland's six-month EU presidency. On 1 May, the Irish host a celebration for the ten new nations of Europe, catchily titled "A Day of Welcomes". Then there is the normal European Council meeting, plus many other summits to sort out the stalled EU constitution. Naturally, the Irish have chosen this time to dig up the streets of the capital to build a super-tram system, making Dublin a security nightmare.
At a recent Franco-British gathering (I assume "Franco" means the French rather than the Generalissimo, but then you never know), Peter Mandelson allowed it to be understood that he fully expects to be appointed British Commissioner in Brussels in succession to Neil Kinnock. The twice-disgraced one seems determined to embarrass the great patron by presenting himself as "the Rt Hon" whenever possible.
George Pascoe-Watson of the Sun, the new parliamentary lobby chair, is most upset that the hitherto-unnoticed hyphen in his name was omitted on an official announcement. He should worry. The chain-smoking, black-leather-trousered, hyphenutin' GP-W must now endure a referendum on whether to make the entire press gallery accommodation a smokeless zone - including the bar.
Why have four MPs been stripped of the dignity of being called Deputy Speaker when they chair debates in Westminster Hall? (The practice of bestowing the title relies on a periodic request to the Leader of the House from the Speaker, but that has not happened this session.) They need look no further than the only true Deputy Speaker, Sir Alan Haselhurst, the ageing cricket novelist who feels that his title is somewhat diluted if others share it. He is duly awarded the Patrick Cormack Harrumphing Cross.
Paul Routledge is chief political commentator for the Daily Mirror