Calamity Clegg goes up north

Dave's fall-guy endured a rough ride in Scotland.

How Nick Clegg, Britain's most disliked politician, must yearn for the days when he was treated with respect. Hoping to secure a favourable hearing, Dave's fall guy travelled 580 miles for a town-hall meeting in the Scottish Highland fiefdom of his Harry Potter-ish colleague Danny Alexander. But in beautiful Boat of Garten, a ten-minute drive from Aviemore, Calamity Clegg discovered that they, too, read newspapers and watch TV. He endured a rough ride: the role of haranguer-in-chief was played by a local resident, Philippa Clark, who is the partner of one Charlie Whelan, Gordon Brown's former hitman. My snout swore that a grin creased the face of another Charlie, the former Lib Dem leader Charles Kennedy, when he heard that Calamity hadn't enjoyed his visit north.

I gather that George Osborne has Boris Johnson's sister, Rachel, to thank for an avalanche of bad publicity after she revealed that the City fat cat Caspar Rock played mein host for the Chancellor's skiing holiday in the Swiss Alps. M'Lady Johnson defended "Sir" George, arguing that the break cost only "the price of a small car". With Notting Hell friends like Johnson, Ossie earns a lot of new enemies.

The departure of that Dreyfus of Downing Street, Andy "I Knew Nothing" Coulson, an innocent spokesman forced to quit first the News of the World and then No 10 despite, as the PM insists, a phone-hacking-free career, has caused collateral damage. Tory-friendly lobby journalists mutter that Cameron's personal spinner, Gabby Bertin,has lost her Anne of Green Gables reputation by denying that Coulson was about to quit. She was either out of the loop or economical with the resignation letter - both things judged unsympathetically by the Conservative press.

Gordon Brown's request to the Met to investigate whether his growls were hacked by the Screws reminded your correspondent of advice that the then chancellor received from the French finance minister. He suggested that Broon should be careful with what he revealed on mobiles, leaving the distinct impression that French intelligence was eavesdropping on a European ally's leaders. I wonder if, to maintain the spirit of the entente cordiale, GCHQ returns the compliment.

Tracey Crouch, right-winger, isn't afraid to kick a Labour man when he's down. After scoring a penalty against the shadow defence secretary, Jim Murphy, in a parliamentary footie match, Crouchy completed the humiliation by standing over the sprawled keeper and jeering. Perhaps Sky's Richard Keys and Andy Gray should try telling Crouchy, a qualified FA coach, that ladies don't know the offside rule. One of her two-footed Tory tackles would let them know who's in charge.

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.