Miss Whiplash shows Balls the red card

Labour's chief whip ordered Ed Balls to return to the Commons from the football.

Teddy Miliband can add a Labour election turf war to a lengthening to-do list on his return from paternity leave. I hear Harriet Harman and Andy Burnham both think they're in charge of May's contests for the Scottish Parliament, Welsh Assembly and English councils. Teddy appointed Burnham as election co-ordinator, which, one might assume, covered every contest. Harman, however, has other ideas: the deputy leaderene has told Burnham to focus on the general election and she'll handle everything else. Andy's not happy.

Also unhappy is the Labour young gun Michael Dugher. The fast-talking defence spokesman - a former No 10 aide who must find Barnsley East a Garden of Eden after his spell down Brown's bunker - is a member of an exclusive sect: the Derek Twigg fan club. Dugher's admiration for the
quiet diligence of Derek Who? - a politician so deep undercover when he was defence minister that he made the SAS resemble attention-seekers - stunned comrades. Even more stunned, though, was the Barnsley boy when St Helens's Dave Watts suggested that Dugher rated Twigg because they're of the same generation. Watts should go down to Specsavers. Black-haired Dugher is 35; "Silver Fox" Twigg 51.

The luvvie-loving Ed Vaizey has put a couple of Tracey Emins on his office wall. Hobnobbing with the arty set is taking its toll on Unsteady Eddie, with unkind colleagues remarking that he's filled out and looks in need of a lie down on the Cameroon girl's unmade bed. Parliamentary answers show that supplying the Cut-servative Eric Pickles with a print of Her Majesty cost taxpayers £256.64. Cameron's pet northerner also commandeered busts of Disraeli and Gladstone. Presumably, Pickles recognises he serves two masters. MPs have been overheard speculating that head boy Cameron would retain his loyal fag Clegg, while discarding the rest of the Lib Dems, should the Cons win an overall majority in 2015.

The inflexibility of Labour's chief whip Rosie Winterton is playing havoc with the passions of the party's footie fans. Mackem MP for Wrexham, Ian Lucas, was forced to leave White Hart Lane at half-time while watching Sunderland against Spurs because she wouldn't give the shadow business minister an evening off the leash. Miss Whiplash also ordered Norwich devotee Ed Balls and Millwall fan Clive Efford to return to the Commons from the New Den. The pair were able to stay until the 85th minute after booking a taxi outside the grounds. Balls left with Norwich 1-0 up, Efford missing Millwall's injury-time equaliser. Winterton's tough line didn't influence the result: Labour lost a housing benefit vote by 61.

The orange hue of a tash that John Healey is growing to raise funds for prostate cancer research gives the health shadow a hint of one of Hattie's endangered species. Ed Mili's chucked in £50; Dougie Alexander a fiver. Perhaps a benefits spokesman doesn't want to be seen splashing the cash.

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 22 November 2010 issue of the New Statesman, Advantage Cameron