Commons confidential

Metal Mickey’s saintly successors-to-be

  • The fate of the country’s most famous former sheet metalworker, Michael Martin, was sealed when a Labour salvage squad failed to persuade MPs to rally behind him. Dishonourable members were too busy arguing about who might succeed Metal Mickey to listen to the whips. The Labour name mentioned most frequently is the saintly Kelvin Hopkins, MP for Frugal Central, but even tribalists concede it’s another party’s turn. A Lib Dem snout whispered Nick Clegg favours Alan Beith over Ming Campbell should the yellow peril seize the chair. The only Tory with Labour support is the Monday Clubber-to-moderate John Bercow, though David Cameron’s fellow Old Etonian, the bicycling baronet Sir George Young, still fancies his chances. Ahead of Martin’s assisted jump, a surprising name floated was that of Dr Richard Taylor, the Kidderminster independent. The selfless medic, I hear, is prepared to serve should others massage his ego.
  • With Labour plummeting in the polls, the sound of sniggering envelops John Prescott and Alastair Campbell’s “Go Fourth” campaign. The goal, you may recall, was to win Labour a fourth term. Less optimistic colleagues quip the aim now is to finish behind Ukip, the Lib Dems and Druggie Dave’s Tories in the 4 June Euro elections.
  • Chequebook journalism, broadsheet-style, is creating a Conservative backlash against the Daily Telegraph. MPs who believe the Torygraph shouldn’t go in for muckraking are cancelling lunches with the rag’s hacks. No greater sacrifice can a parliamentarian make than to refuse a free meal for the sake of his dignity. One who huffily opted to pay for his own scoff is Peter Luff. That’ll be “Flipper Luff”: his second home moved from London to Worcestershire for a couple of years before catching the train back to the Big Smoke.
  • More evidence that Blairites are plotting to decapitate Gordon Brown after the 4 June bloodbath. The bookies’ runner George Howarth, who tried to topple the Supreme Leader last autumn, was to pen a hostile piece for a Sunday newspaper until the blonde assassin Margaret McDonagh warned the party wouldn’t forgive him this side of the Euros. After that, muttered a foot soldier of Big Gordie’s enemy within, all bets are off.
  • I gather that Luton’s two Labour MPs, hairshirted Kelvin “Honest” Hopkins and the serial flipper Margaret “Mover” Moran, have not fallen out over the beatification of him and vilification of her, though Moran appears to have been under the misapprehension that the Commons is an audition for Location, Location, Location. The neighbours haven’t exchanged so much as a single cross word over expenses – they haven’t spoken for five years, after falling out over a local issue.
  • On a single day last week, the Daily Express carried three letters from correspondents sharing names with MPs: Nick Brown, Denis Murphy and a C Kennedy. You couldn’t make it up, could you?
  • 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.