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