Commons Confidential

The funny side of the street.

The parliamentary rock band MP4 is preparing X Factor auditions after the election left it MP3, as Ian Cawsey, warbler and bassist, was sacked by the voters of Brigg and Goole. But should the governing Con-Dem coalition now dominate the group? In the old MP4, Cawsey and the guitarist Kevin Brennan were both Labour, the Tories represented by Greg Knight (drummer) and other parties by the SNP (and ex-Runrig) keyboard player, Pete Wishart. Another potential recruit, Lembit Öpik, was sent packing with his Lib Dem harmonica, and Cheryl Gillan may be busy after David Cameron appointed the Buckinghamshire MP and chorister his Welsh viceroy.

So the band may be one corner of Westminster where Labour retains a majority, as the banjo-plucker Michael Dugher is an early front-runner.

Easygoing Ed "Teddy" Miliband, seemingly every Labour member's first or second choice for leader, at last has an enemy. I hear he's upset Jon Cruddas. The pair fell out spectacularly over the party manifesto, authored by Teddy. Cruddas felt his ideas were dismissed unceremoniously. David Milibrother is more solicitous of Cruddas and another leadership hopeful, Ed Balls, recently parleyed with the lefty pin-up. It's said that the Dagenham philosopher doesn't take offence easily or, perhaps worryingly for Teddy, lightly.

Acting the "Big I Am" is Brighton Pavilion's Caroline Lucas, the country's first Green MP. A mole whispered that she's demanding Commons authorities treat her as the leader of a party, not just another MP. She's the leader of a party of one, yet at the top of the Lucas list, I'm told, is an office suite to reflect her status. It's weird how the Palace of Varieties changes people. Perhaps Lucas, an ex-MEP, thinks she's still in Brussels.

At the funeral of the former NS columnist Alan Watkins in St Bride's Fleet Street, the author Robert Harris told mourners that Alan's son David had been about to read Simon Hoggart's column to his father when he noticed that Watkins Sr had slipped away. "An extreme reaction, one might say," said Harris, "but Watkins would have seen the funny side, and seeing the funny side was what he always preferred."

Election hangovers don't come much thicker than that of the Labour candidate for Gravesham, Kathryn Smith. The 18.2 per cent swing to the Tories' Adam Holloway was thumping. Now, a snout has muttered that she's also on police bail until 10 July. Smith was breathalysed during the campaign after her Renault Laguna crashed into a Dartford roundabout. To add insult to injury, her accident was on a road named after a local former Tory MP: Bob Dunn Way.

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 31 May 2010 issue of the New Statesman, The war on the veil