The Prince of Darkness casting his shadow over the World Trade Organisation is, I hear, a genuine possibility. David Cameron is considering a cunning plan, giggled a No 10 snout, to back Peter Mandelson as successor to the director general, Pascal Lamy. Citizen Dave and George Osborne blocked Gordon Brown for the International Monetary Fund partly out of spite and partly because they recognised he'd attack Tory economic policy. Osborne's holiday chum Mandy is regarded as more Conservative-friendly and his appointment would peel another Blairite away from Labour. A fourth resurrection of the Dark Lord would beat even Freddy Krueger's record. Labour tribalists sneer that it would also be Cameron's payback for Mandy running a hopeless election campaign in May 2010.
Could it get any worse for Ed Miliband? The least successful Conservative leader in living memory, Iain Duncan Smith, was eavesdropped by a radar-lugged informant admitting that he feels sorry for Ted. The self-styled Quiet Man of British politics was silenced completely in 2003 when his party turned off the volume, Tory MPs realising after two hopeless years that he was a lost cause as opposition leader. The ousted IDS, rehabilitated at Work and Pensions, whispered that he sympathises with Ted because of the painful memory of his own ordeal. Unless his fortunes revive, Ted could end up with more support on the Tory benches than the Labour side.
Gordon Brown's one-time enforcer and former Labour chief whip Nick "Newkie" Brown walked into a "Revolt of the Dogsbodies" at a meeting
of parliamentary staff. As he was the only MP present at a session convened to denounce the unfairness of the Ipsa expenses regime, an ill-behaved researcher demanded to know why Newkie was there. "I'm here because you invited me," protested a sheepish Brown, “so don't think
I'm sad and lonely because I have nowhere else to go." The pained look on his face, I'm told, said that he wished to be anywhere but in that room.
Cancellations, delays, rising fares, overcrowding and now ties. Fat controllers at Arriva Trains Wales added to the list of problems confronting the rail industry by threatening to discipline drivers who wear them with trade union insignia. The company, one of whose managers unwisely compared its engines to milk floats, deemed Aslef ties a fashion faux pas with new uniforms. With public services facing a wave of strikes over pay and pensions, the wrong neckwear on the line would be a novel excuse.
The House Magazine's annual parliamentary awards are no longer genteel. Your correspondent found an MP seeking refuge in the Sports and Social Club in the Commons. Nominees on the shortlist, it transpires, are breaking an unwritten rule and canvassing for votes. The quivering MP spoke unhappily of organised teams swarming the corridors and emails soliciting support. I will investigate on my rounds of the place and report back.
Kevin Maguire is associate editor (politics) of the Daily Mirror