Inside Westminster

Why Big Gordie doesn't do pooches - all the gossip from the Westminster Village

MPs fall into two categories: those with a low profile and those with no profile. Into the latter we must put Helen Goodman, a Treasury official-turned-Labour representative for Bishop Auckland. My snout on a train speeding oop north to County Durham watched as our MP, strolling through the carriage with a serious face transmitting big thoughts, was stopped by a passenger. Was this lady anxious to discover Goodman's views on quantitative easing or fiscal stimulus? Not exactly. "Can you," inquired the traveller, "get me a copy of the Times?" Dark-suited Goodman was mistaken for a member of the National Express staff. To be fair - and it pains me to be fair - Goodman handled the request with good nature, though the passenger didn't get her Times. The MP should look on the bright side: if a Tory tsunami swamps Labour's safest seats, there's always a job on the trains for her.

To the Channel 4 Political Awards, where a chap introduced himself as Michael Onslow, otherwise known as the Conservative hereditary peer the Earl of Onslow. Mickey O confessed he was paid to host a lunch at his ancestral pile for John Prescott's TV shoutathon on "clarss". And there was I thinking they were the bestest of friends.

The Old Etonian, wisely sensing Puncher planned to lampoon him as an upper-class twit, shunned school chums and invited instead what he described as "ordinary" people. Thus Prezza met a banker, lawyer and (I think Mike said over the din) an accountant. Evidently verrry ordinary professions on country estates, if not council estates. Micks awaits a return meal at Prescott Towers, presumably ready to take a few bottles of vintage claret to 'Ull in lieu of payment.

Druggie Dave's Tory banker-turned-welfare hammer David "Let Them Eat Shares" Freud isn't the first to pester a leader for a berth in the House of Cronies. Every few months, whispered a Liberal Democrat frontbencher, Jeremy Thorpe - forcibly retired three decades ago - rings the yellow peril in Westminster to beg for elevation to the ermine. Nick "Paternity Leave" Clegg-over's heart evidently melts only for newborn infants. Bunnies can and will go to France, but not with a Lib Dem peerage.

To the Supreme Leader's pet hates can be added, I discover, dogs. Big Gordie doesn't do pooches, so ambassadors are instructed to keep embassy canines on a short leash when the PM's in town. His most potent dislikes remain, however, an unusual pairing of injections and sweetcorn.

I hear Brown once referred to the jolly green minister, Ed Miliband, as his Tony Benn - but did he mean ambitious Benn of the Seventies and Eighties or saintly Tony of the Nineties and Noughties?

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.