Meet Red Ed, pool shark

Red Ed can pot a red.

It doesn't take much effort to imagine David Cameron playing billiards in a country house, the people's toff joshing with the chaps while the women retire to the drawing room. It's always taken greater effort to imagine Ed Miliband shooting pool in smoky pubs during a misspent youth. It seems, however, that Miliband was telling the truth all these months. Red Ed can pot a red. The game is cited as proof of the Labour leader's normality, his nod in the direction of ordinary folk. Miliband selflessly abandoned a match against a chap from the Sun to avoid thrashing his opponent. Critics might also interpret that as a lack of the killer touch.

The Pudsey Tory Stuart Andrew's claim to minor fame is he lived in the tongue-twisting Welsh village Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychw­yrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch, which boasts the longest place name and not just in Britain. Other boxes he ticks prompt Cameroons to trail him as the embodiment of Citizen Dave's new model party. He lived on a council estate, he's a former Labour Party member and charity worker, and is openly gay.

Not all MPs are relaxed that almost as many of the party's gay MPs are out of the closet as are in it. On the terrace, a snout overheard a colleague complaining the place was full of homosexuals. He soon turned beetroot when the penny dropped. "Don't look at me," said Andrew. "I only pretended to be gay to get on the Tory A-list." Untrue, but a funny line.To lunch with Samuel Moncada, ambassador of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. The Oxford PhD and ex-professor of history quietly declined an invitation to hire a morning suit and sit in Westminster Abbey with the other TV extras for the Wills & Boon wedding. An Anglophile who speaks fluent English, the diplomat disclosed that whisky is the national drink of his homeland. Venezuelans visiting Britain for the first time are confused when everyone isn't downing Scotch in pubs and bars.

Alec Shelbrooke, the well-upholstered Tory member for Elmet and Rothwell, must rue a flabby spending-cut metaphor about Labour feeding everybody chocolate and burgers for 13 years so we're all 35 stone and need to lose 20 each. There's not many Shelbrookes to the tonne. The poor chap has been forced to protest that he's on a diet, shedding pounds of his own before tying the knot.

Constituents are demanding. A new MP told of how a couple secured a full holiday refund after claiming their break abroad was a nightmare. The pair were delighted. As was the member - two votes in the bag. The hubby recently returned to the surgery. They had been on a second holiday and, would she believe it, another disaster, so a second refund, please. Swallow it she didn't. The result: two potential votes lost. In a marginal to boot. MPs require not just the patience of Job but the morals of Del Boy.

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 09 May 2011 issue of the New Statesman, Beyond the cult of Bin Laden