The geek and the dunce

Downing Street has been forced to extend Cameron's PMQs briefing.

Dave the Dunce is swotting longer for Prime Minister's Questions. Downing Street has been forced to extend the PM's briefings ahead of Wednesday high noons to avoid Camfusion, a snout whispered. A Whitehall circular requests departments to give No 10 earlier warning of banana skins after Dave kept slipping up on detail. The geek in Ed Miliband has enjoyed the last laugh for several weeks, Labour's pointy head playing unfair by focusing on specific problems in health and welfare. The smoothness of Citizen Dave, amateur gentleman, is a strength that becomes a weakness when he's exposed as clueless.

One Westminster old hand suggests that Cameron, when next blindsided by Miliband, should demand that the leader of the opposition tell everyone if he already knows the answer.

Organisers of the Portcullis House launch of Owen Jones's insightful book Chavs, about the demonisation of the working class, weren't going to fall into a middle-class trap. Joining the author were a few MPs who know a thing or two about hard graft: the ex-miner Ian Lavery, the one-time lab technician Grahame Morris and a former union official, Jack Dromey. Things went swimmingly until a woman complained of discrimination against half the country - the panel was all male. Insult may have been added to injury: the equality campaigner I'm All Right Jack, aka Mr Harriet Harman, won a Birmingham seat initially earmarked for an all-women Labour shortlist.

MPs groaned on both sides of the Commons chamber when the Brent Blunderbuss, Barry Gardiner, compared Rupert Murdoch to Colonel Gaddafi, though I suspect that Gaddafi's preoccupation with Nato's bombing of Tripoli means he's unlikely to complain. Hansard's stenographers didn't record the sotto voce riposte from Gardiner's colleague, the combative Barry Sheerman, who provided a sitting commentary during an emergency statement by Jeremy Hunt, Secretary of State for News Corp, on Murdoch's takeover of BSkyB. Labour MPs sitting close to General Sheerman swear they heard him mutter he'd always thought Murdoch was more of an Osama Bin Laden figure.

Not even lunch expenses were offered by that tireless champion of an £8.30 hourly London living wage, Lyn Brown, in a now notorious advert for an unpaid parliamentary volunteer. The West Ham MP, accused of hypocrisy for exploiting free labour, worries about her own meals. Brown is a regular contributor, I gather, to the suggestions book in the members' dining room. Gripes include small portions, a complaint that will stick in the throats of unwaged staff expected to live on thin air.

Revolting MPs are refusing to dig deep for the proposed £85,000 stained-glass window in Westminster Hall to celebrate Queenie's diamond jubilee next year. So few donations were received that the Speaker, John Bercow, has sent round a reminder. Austerity starts at home for republicans.

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.

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