Food fight in the Commons dining room

I hear of mass indigestion in the Members' Dining Room. MPs protested on discovering since the summer recess that they must queue up to pay at a till instead of settling up at the table with a waiter. Complaints turned into a near-riot when political lightweights happy to slurp the minestrone found that, under the new Commons regime, they're charged the same £15 fixed rate as heavyweights such as Nicholas "Bunter" Soames or Tommy "Two Dinners" Watson scoffing three courses. The £15 rate is the maximum that Ipsa expenses-busters allow for an evening meal since the clampdown on duckhouses. Nosy voters will be dismayed to learn that the bills handed to MPs for reimbursement do not itemise what they've scoffed. The authorities wish to spare the blushes of fatties when receipts are published.

The government's fallen saint, guilt-ridden Vince Cable, has swapped a ministerial Jag inherited from grand Lord Mandelson of Self-Publicity
for a modest Toyota Prius. Meanwhile, Cameron's pet northerner, Eric Pickles, has traded up from a Prius to a Jag.

TV make-up ladies whisper that panda-eyed Ed "Teddy" Miliband is concerned about the bags deepening only a few weeks into the Labour
job. The Tedettes, however, are relaxed and tell Edward (as he likes to be addressed in Hansard) that the bags (large enough to carry his shopping) make him appear an old head on young shoulders.

Commons staff earning pin money taking visitors around the Mock Gothic Fun Palace are being re-educated. Twenty years' experience is no get-out-of-jail-free card: classes are compulsory. New instructions include standing on the same spot and delivering pre-prepared lectures. Banned are the best bits: jokes, asides and anecdotes. A reliable source put the cost at £80,000 (equivalent to 5,333 Ipsa dinners).

I bring you evidence that the Queen does have a sense of humour. A snout muttered that Her Maj was greatly amused when five-foot-nothing Sir - as he now is - Ian McCartney quipped he must be "the shortest knight of the year" during his investiture at Buck House. Big Mac's parliamentary notepaper used to proclaim him "Socialist MP for Makerfield". Will he now call himself the "Socialist Knight for Makerfield"?

Peter Kilfoyle, Mouth of the Mersey, has grown a beard worthy of Father Christmas, I'm told, since quitting the Commons in May. An ex-inmate who lost his seat admitted he realised how much daytime TV he now watches when a local body asked if it could change a regular Friday-afternoon meeting. The former MP assented, provided the new time didn't clash with Cash in the Attic or Loose Women.

David Cameron lunched with the right-wing commentator Bruce "Brute" Anderson. A sensible move. The Brute took the people's toff under his wing when Dave was a nobody and knows, I'm assured, a number of embarrassing secrets.

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 25 October 2010 issue of the New Statesman, What a carve up!