Pepperpot and poison ivy

A sideways look at life in the Westminster village

A touching cross-party exchange was witnessed in a Commons corridor, with two fading political galacticos united against a common foe. Tory chocolate soldier Liam Fox, licking his wounds after an Iranian-style humiliation from, of all people, Des Browne, clasped little Alan Milburn on the shoulder. "There's still time Alan, go for it," a failed Tory leadership runner urged his chosen Labour leader. Little Al's face lit up, encouragement sadly rarely enjoyed these days by an organiser of Blairite partisans still resisting Big Gordie's occupation. Go on Alan, make Liam's day.

Evening all. Druggie Dave is to risk life and limb by attending next month's Police Federation brawl in Blackpool. The massed ranks of boys and girls in blue is by some margin the rowdiest union conference, with politicians treated like common criminals. Cameron's handlers, whispers my Notting Hell mole, are debating whether to hug coppers like hoodies or lay down the law. My money's on the softly-softly style. Robominister John Reid will be found guilty of some heinous felony when he speaks the day before.

Curiously omitted from French B&B proprietor and one-time No 10 spinner Lance Price's website is a tour de force he tapped out on 16 April for the London Evening Standard. David Miliband, declared the sage over the sea, "is positioning himself skilfully to announce his candidacy . . . I believe he will run and that he will win." Ooops. It's superfluous to remind you that the jolly green giant ruled himself out six days later. Price, however, remains for hire as a commentator and political consultant.

To Cardiff where Rhodri Morgan, supreme ruler for a few more weeks of the Soft Left Republic of Wales, told of a past encounter with the electorate. Changing in a leisure centre after a trot in the park, Red Rhod sprayed under his arms what he took to be deodorant. It took some time, he confessed, to wipe shaving cream from his hairy armpits - to the cheers of an evidently entertained group of young men.

Workers revolt over £6.90 for "Nuts about Hazel" T-shirts after production was tracked to a non-union sweatshop in Bangladesh. Mrs Pepperpot momentarily walked tall, however, at the recent Blairite jamboree on HMS Belfast. She pulled herself up to the full 4ft 11in when a friend complimented her TV performances, only to be crushed on discovering she'd been mistaken for diminutive former Coronation Street character "Poison Ivy" Tilsley.

A stalker is forcing Labour MPs to avoid Portcullis House. The spectre haunting this corner of parliament, nicknamed "Ringwraith" by a terrified Frodo Baggins on the back benches, mercilessly pursues his prey. Once cornered, victims are given the third degree until they crack or, heroically, escape his clutches. Personally, I still don't think "Mad Mike" Meacher will get enough votes to stand for Labour's crown.

Anyone got a number for Bletchley Park? Lord Cashpoint, I hear, used codenames for Labour donors to keep identities secret should his files fall into hostile hands. I assume detectives in the loans-for-lordships probe received full co-operation on the matter.

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 30 April 2007 issue of the New Statesman, Pakistan: The Taliban takeover