How Ted found his inner Beast

Miliband Jr has a new coach for PMQs: young Dennis Skinner, 79.

I hear a £1,000-per-table Labour fundraiser at the Radisson Edwardian in Bloomsbury for the unlikely Black Country pairing of the Blairite Pat McFadden and the Brownite Ian Austin degenerated into a rally of the defeated. New Labour evangelicals in the Tony Blair Faith Foundation and the ultras of Progress whooped as the party's lost leader, David Miliband, declared it a shocking injustice that McFadden isn't in the shadow cabinet. There was a collective orgasm when McFadden repaid the compliment by insisting the body needed Mili Sr, too. Nobody argued that poor Austin should be in. Blinded by their zeal, the disgruntled Blairites overlooked how Miliband had ignored Brother Ed's pleas to join the shadow cabinet and McFadden had rejected a role, after failing to be elected. The dispossessed will be empowered, however, when Ted Miliband abolishes shadow cabinet contests. A snout whispered that a Miliband-McFadden return is on the cards in the autumn.

There's talk of big upheavals at Newsnight, Auntie's current affairs show for folk unable to stay down the pub. Only the silver Rottweiler Jeremy Paxman is safe, muttered a BBC mole. Even the irreverent political editor, Michael Crick, will be required to justify his troublemaking. The danger, warned the mole, is that Newsnight will become as dull as Radio 4's establishment noticeboard, Today.

Miliband Jr has a new coach for Prime Minister's Questions: young Dennis Skinner, 79. It was the Beast of Bolsover who suggested Ted mention the 7,000 cancer victims losing financial support under benefit cuts. He duly did and won the bout, his best performance to date. Skinner even predicted David Cameron's counter-attack, advising Ted to demand an apology if the PM accused him of using cancer as a smokescreen. Blair spoke regularly to the Tory-baiting lefty and now Miliband's found his inner Beast.

Rebellion grows over plans to instal an £85,000 stained-glass window of the Queen's coat of arms in Westminster Hall, ahead of next year's diamond jubilee. Elected MPs are seething at the request of the Speaker, John Bercow, to stump up a minimum of £50 each to buy the "presentation gift" for one of the world's richest women. Unelected peers are noticeably more sympathetic to a hereditary monarch.

Hugo Chàvez, Latin American revolutionary, has finally met his match . . . in Bob Crow. One of the RMT's threatened tube strikes forced the Venezuelan embassy in London to postpone a 200th-anniversary celebration of the country's independence. It wasn't workers of the world uniting. Shortly after the Venezuelans rescheduled, Crow cancelled the walkout.

News of the Daily Telegraph's veteran political editor George Jones, who retired to Somerset. The veteran scribbler swapped journalism for campanology, pulling on a rope in a local church. I suppose bell-ringing makes a change to hacks blowing their own trumpets.

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 04 July 2011 issue of the New Statesman, Afghanistan