Dougie’s jam and Dolly’s secret

All the gossip from the Westminster Village

Maggie Thatcher’s salivating disciples, eagerly awaiting their heroine’s Downing Street resurrection, may soon be frothing and foaming instead. Richard Stone’s oil painting of the Rusty Lady will not be hung, as was widely anticipated, on No 10’s grand staircase. Once unveiled she will, I hear, be confined to an attic – or, more specifically, a corner room up the stairs and left down the corridor. Once installed in the Thatcher Study, as the room in which she long toiled is known, Maggie will languish unseen except by escorted visitors.

Lefties convinced that Thatcher comes from another planet will be intrigued to discover that the study already houses a few specks of moon rock, a gift to the nation from Richard Nixon.

Jim Murphy, a teetotal veggie, doesn’t let a grudge drop. The Secretary of State for Tartan Affairs refuses to speak to Pete Wishart because the Scots Nat criticised his constituency office expenses – eight years ago. The long silence has included Big Jim refusing to reply to a cheery “Good morning” in the lift from the one-time member of the band Runrig. Now Wishart has a cunning plan to secure acknowledgement of his existence. It’s called Scottish Questions, although Big Jim’s replies are likely to be brief and followed by a muffled curse.

Tony Blair’s tendency to pop up, Zelig-like, whenever Labour ministers venture abroad is irritating old cabinet colleagues. Gordon Brown at least enjoyed the satisfaction of turfing his predecessor out of the best bed in the Washington embassy, unlike poor Dougie Alexander, forced to take a back seat on a visit to Gaza. The aid minister’s car was stuck for nearly an hour in a jam caused by Blair’s motorcade.

The appearance of Roy Hattersley on Derek “Dolly” Draper’s shout site is a reminder that the spinner-cum-shrink holds a political candle for old Wobbly Chops. Many students put up a poster of Che Guevara, or that Athena tennis player scratching her bottom. Not Dolly. Ken Livingstone recalls going to Manchester when Dolly was a student there and finding he had a huge photograph of Woy on his wall. Sounds like a psychotherapist’s dream.

Wishart’s SNP colleague Stewart Hosie was taken to task after his name initially failed to appear on the EDM criticising Royal Mail privatisation. “But I’ve supported the motion,” protested the Dundee East MP. “I sent in my consent by post.” The irony only dawned on Hosie, I’m told, when he heard the guffaws of Labour MPs.

To a £50-a-terrine Labour dinner in London, where a signed volume of the Supreme Leader’s book on courage was auctioned for £500, topping the £350 for Ali Campbell’s autographed diaries. A rare, unsigned copy of either would have raised more as a collector’s item.

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 09 March 2009 issue of the New Statesman, Planet Overload