Commons Confidential

Comical Ali’s laughable campaign.

Vain Dave Cameron took his own make-up artist to the leaders' debate in Bristol. While Gordon Brown and Nick Clegg relied on Sky for a bit of slap, the Buller Boy enjoyed a personal powder puff. A Tory deep throat whispered that Cameron is sensitive about his ruddy cheeks and a barnet that is both thinning and receding. Aides tease him for compulsively peering into mirrors and nervously adjusting his tie unless open-necked, in which case he smoothes his hair. Now Cameron's been glimpsing his reflection in windows, too.

Suspicious minds in the Labour bunker are still puzzling over Alastair Campbell's Elvis impersonator. The king of spin shared a Labour gig in Thurrock with the king of rock'n'roll, but the addition to Brown's team left the PM looking all shook up. The lookalike, Mark Wright, is a regular on the party circuit - he sang "If Tony Was a Rock Star" at Westminster Hall on Blair's 2007 farewell tour. Comical Ali caused meeja bemusement by billing the mimic as a megastar. Campbell is struggling to assert control over Labour's message. Spying a Talibrown foe about to be interviewed for TV in Bristol, he snarled to a broadcaster: “I hope you're not describing Charlie Whelan as a Labour spokesman." In a campaign stumbling this badly, the title "Labour spokesman" is no badge of honour.

What a naughty boy. The Children's Secretary, Ed Balls, got nabbed by a patrolman on a Sunday evening for using his mobile while driving. He got a £60 ticket, visiting Wakefield nick the following Saturday to produce his documents. The very next day, the Sun had every detail, down to the name of the road he was stopped on. Labour conspiracy theorists will recall Murdoch's henchwoman, Rebekah Brooks, admitting to the Commons culture and media committee that her newspaper had previously paid the boys in blue for information. A Labour adviser tried to console Balls: at least his mobile was unlikely to be bugged, now that Andy “I Knew Nothing" Coulson no longer works in Wapping.

An unlikely name-check for the PM from Siobhain McDonagh, a Blairite whip until September 2008, when she quit after a failed coup. She is one of the few Labour candidates to put the words "Gordon" and "Brown" on a campaign leaflet. There's no picture, but Comical Ali could still spin it as the start of a 6 May bandwagon.

Tweeting and internet comments have cost Labour a couple of candidates, but David Wright MP has been prospering since the "scum-sucking pigs" row shortly before the election. Wright, you may recall, insisted that a hacker had left the anti-Tory abuse on his Twitter feed. But it went down well in his Telford constituency. Voters now greet the candidate by oinking. Wright rejected an invitation to visit a pigsty.

The Man in the White Suit, Martin Bell, has disclosed the secret of being Mr Clean: he owns half a dozen sleaze-buster outfits. The former independent MP keeps three good jacket-and-trouser combos for TV and makes radio appearances in a tattier trio.

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 03 May 2010 issue of the New Statesman, Danger