Too green for her good, and Eric’s in a pickle

Caroline Lucas stands accused of breaching an election promise.

The leaderene of the Greens and the party's first MP, Caroline Lucas, vowed that Brighton would "come first", and broke ground by winning the beach city's Pavilion constituency last May. Hence the grumbling heard in London-by-the-Sea over her family continuing to live 200 miles away in another country. The one-time MEP decided the boys come first until her eldest completes his exams in Brussels, after which her hubby and two sons will join her. Perhaps sensible, yet in Brighton the air is thick with recriminations, and Lucas is accused of breaching an election promise. Charitable observers see Lucas as green - as in naive - for failing to make her intentions clear.

David Cameron's cheesy call to the Tory faithful back in 2006 to "let sunshine win the day" is being heeded in this era of grim cuts by a Labour opponent. Phil Woolas, Ousted of Oldham since an election court decreed that he'd lied about his Lib Dem opponent, booting the former climate-change minister out of parliament, is earning an honest crust selling solar panels. The forcibly retired MP entertained guests at a dinner by assuring them of good prices because he always tells the truth.

ITV and Channel 4 News lobby hacks returned to Westminster after the Easter recess minus Anne Lingley, a redoubtable back-room operator who ran the Commons office for 37 years. Lingley guided decades of political editors, including John Sergeant, Nick Robinson, Gary Gibbon and Tom Bradby. But at a farewell dinner in the Commons, a TV bod disclosed that Sergeant was unpopular among staff, who were perplexed when ballroom dancing briefly turned him into a national treasure. One of Lingley's colleagues so disliked the clodhopper she put a large pot plant on her desk to avoid having to look at Sargie's jowls.

Sticking with jowls - I hear Eric Pickles is touchy about criticism that he's chauffeured around in a gleaming Jag when his Labour predecessor John Denham was happy with a more modest Toyota Prius. Big Eric, who in all fairness may be unable to fit into the back of a medium-sized motor, has taken to moaning to all and sundry how the limo was in the Whitehall car pool and would be standing idle without his patronage. I suspect the notion that the heavyweight Communities Secretary is doing taxpayers a favour would cut little ice with victims of the coalition's austerity.

The Conservative conference this October promises to be a restrained affair. A snout whispered only the Midland Hotel in Manchester will be inside the security zone, though last autumn Labour included the Radisson Edwardian, too. The Tories opted for the slimmer set-up in 2009 and will not expand now. They're bankrolled by high-rollers who evidently like to be heard privately, not seen publicly oop north.

Shown the door for Westminster in Hove last May, the Labour ex-MP Celia Barlow will be standing for Brighton and Hove Council on 5 May. "Politics," she says, "is in my blood." And 12 months ago it was that blood that the voters wanted.

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 02 May 2011 issue of the New Statesman, The Firm