Rasputin in a tank top

A fashion faux pas by the No 10 enforcer and a setback for Lord Moneybags's media ambitions

The first sighting has been recorded of the No 10 enforcer Stephen Carter in one of his Frank Spencer tank tops, albeit with a Ralph Lauren logo. Talibrown veterans seething over this alleged crime against new Labour fashion, or more trivial issues such as Carter's growing influence, may care to pause before whingeing to Uncle Gordie. A quiet word in the Supreme Leader's ear or a begging letter could be safe, but a hostile email might trigger involuntary early retirement. Carter is seeking a Rasputin-like grip over Brown after securing full access to the Prime Minister's emails, in as well as out. Perhaps he learned the value of control during a private two-hour tête-à-tête in Brussels with the Prince of Darkness, Peter Mandelson.

Lord Ashcroft of Belize's dream of becoming a media mogul has suffered a big knock, Labour MPs vowing to boycott the Tory deputy chair's freebie rag, Total Politics. In excess of a dozen immediately signed a Commons motion tabled by the Scouse bruiser Peter "Killa" Kilfoyle to reject unsolicited copies of the Conservative peer's organ. Half the potential readers binning Total Ashcroft unopened would test the depth even of Lord Moneybags's voluminous pockets, never mind the resolve of advertisers promised a cross-party readership.

It's official: MPs are certifiable. Speaker Michael Martin is to issue certificates to former MPs, thanking them for their services to expenses. The embossed sheets, with the portcullis crest and mace in raised gold, are described as a "nice family heirloom". After the row over claims on the public purse, many voters will feel former MPs already live in a nice family heirloom - bought by taxpayers through generous second-home allowances.

The Bedfordshire belle Nadine "Mad Nad" Dorries is the first virtual MP. Dodging a question from a lobby scribbler, the one-time nurse replied that she'd issue a statement on her website if she had anything worthwhile to say. An unkind Con colleague, irritated by Mad Nad's tendency to boast about how attractive red-blooded MPs find her, loudly suggested she'd disappear completely if true to her word.

Knives are out for Hattie Harperson after she had a Labour NEC meeting put back an hour then failed to attend. Word is Sister Hattie also lobbied a member to postpone a decision on whether Wolverhampton North-East replaces retiring MP Ken Purchase from a women-only shortlist. Curious. I thought her hubby Jack Dromey wasn't interested in a Midlands constituency.

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 31 March 2008 issue of the New Statesman, Is Boris a fake?