Citizen Dave’s back-door dash

Tory apparatchiks should choose more carefully next time they pick a hideaway for Cameron.

Rumblings of discontent in the House of Lords, where a campaign has started to win salaries for David Cameron's dogsbodies. The people's toff has 16 unpaid ministers in the upper chamber who are required to work for free. Lord Jopling, who as plain Michael Jopling was Maggie Thatcher's first chief whip in the Commons, is the self-appointed shop steward. As a first step, he has suggested that the ermined downtrodden, including the millionaire-banker-turned-welfare-cutter Baron Freud and the rarely seen or heard Tory chief functionary, Baroness Warsi, receive the £5.93 national minimum hourly wage. Lord "Tom" Strathclyde, leader of the House of Cronies, is unsympathetic. The land-owning hereditary peer firmly told a miffed Jopling that there are "no plans" to reward the red-bench skivvies. A rebuff unrelated, I'm sure, to Strathclyde's own station in life. "I'm All Right" Tom may be unelected but he isn't unpaid, receiving £108,253 a year as a member of cabinet.

Tory apparatchiks should choose more carefully next time they pick a hideaway for Cameron. The PM spent much of his fleeting "I fight to lose" visit to Oldham East and Saddleworth keeping his head down in the Bower Hotel, Chadderton. The concealment of Citizen Dave would have remained undetected, had the party planners not chosen a watering hole favoured by hacks on the Manchester Evening News and the northern office of the Daily Mirror. Expecting a drugs supergrass when plain-clothes cops suddenly swooped in force, the scribblers witnessed instead a sheepish Cameron being escorted through the front entrance after he found the back door locked.

Newspaper photographers knew how to wind up Nick Clegg on a visit to Old and Sad. "Dave, over here, Dave," shouted the cruel snappers at the sensitive Lib Dem leader. The Deputy PM's scowl only encouraged the disrespectful cameramen to shout louder.

Out of the shadow of Gordon Brown, his one-time speech-writer Dougie Alexander is said to want to be called Douglas. The shadow minister formerly known as Dougie is being touted as a potential successor to Alan Johnson, who is struggling with numbers in the Treasury brief.

One BBC cut causing teeth to be gnashed in Westminster is the axing of Auntie's book of MPs' contact details, including home numbers and mobiles. After previous elections, the corporation must've printed more copies than its staff needed, because every lobby journalist seemed to acquire one. Now the volume has gone the way of Nigel Pargetter and the cot-death storyline in EastEnders.

Oops . . . Ed Miliband at a press conference mistook TalkSport's Sean Dilley for the BBC's Gary O'Donoghue. Both are political correspondents who happen to be blind. Is it Little Ted who needs his eyes tested?

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 17 January 2011 issue of the New Statesman, War on WikiLeaks