Prickly Nettles rejects Midsomer Merkel

A cunning plan by David Cameron to woo Angela Merkel failed.

I hear a cunning plan by David Cameron to woo Angela Merkel failed after a British actor refused to play his part. The German chancellor shares an unlikely passion with Citizen Dave for Midsomer Murders. Cameron tried to persuade John Nettles - who, as DCI Barnaby, was incapable of catching a killer until he or she had despatched another three - to meet the Teutonic fan. Prickly Nettles declined and Merkel continues to believe that English villages are blood-fests.

This column never ceases to be outraged by the cheek of Tories who preach austerity for the great British public while lobbying for taxpayers' cash to be splashed on their own pet projects. Take the untimely campaign of Tobias Ellwood, thrusting Cameroon for Bournemouth East. The
MP, who made a packet at the London Stock Exchange, is urging Commons authorities to buy a big clock for Portcullis House. I'll wager a Son of Big Ben would cost the nation's stretched finances a fair few bob, requiring the sacking of another copper or teacher. Monitors on every wall already show the time. Far cheaper, I suggest, for Ellwood to buy himself a new watch.

Dominic Grieve discloses wearily he's received a "large amount of correspondence", including 82 letters since January, demanding an inquest into the death of Dr David Kelly. The campaign had no greater champion than the Lib Dem MP for Conspiracy Theory Central Norman Baker, who constructed a dubious case that the Iraq weapons scientist may not have committed suicide. An upside of coalition, a colleague of Baker's remarked, is that Norman is too busy with his red boxes to write green-ink letters, so the latest batch must be from other people. What a frightening thought.

Is Auntie's political editor and chairman of the Young Conservatives during the height of Thatcherism, Nick Robinson, enjoying special treatment
from Downing Street since recommending his BBC colleague Craig Oliver as David Cameron's chief spinner? I inquire only because a snout recalled an intriguing moment during the G8 summit in Deauville, northern France. The No 10 mouthpieces Steve Field and Gabby Bertin were busy briefing the press pack when Blue Robbo walked over and slipped a handwritten note into Bertin's hand. The message read: "The newsroom is bored," apparently a reference to BBC programme editors back in London. Bertin skipped off to keep both the BBC and her boss Oliver's friend Blue Robbo happy.

Thirsty MPs grumble about Barack Obama's address to both houses of parliament. It wasn't the quality of his peroration, nor the need to be in Westminster Hall earlier than even Ryanair demands passengers arrive for flights. Nor the cushionless seats, which were uncomfortable on political backsides. The gripe was an order to shut all the bars, including the Sports and Social, to avoid unseemly behaviour. One parched MP, gasping for
a refreshing drink, complained that in Ireland, Obama got his Guinness but SW1 was dry. Disorder risked not by too much drink but no drink at all.

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 06 June 2011 issue of the New Statesman, Are we all doomed?