MPs in the compensation queue snaking its way from Wapping to Westminster have been instructed not to sign secret deals with Rupert Murdoch. John Lyon, parliamentary commissioner for standards, has warned eavesdropped politicians against dropping legal action and taking a vow of silence in return for an undisclosed windfall. The expenses tsar wrote to MPs, my snout whispered, to inform them that payouts must be declared in the register of members' interests. One ex-minister, who was apparently close to reaching a six-figure settlement, the snout giggled,
is hacked-off a second time.
The funereal figure of Vince "We're All Doomed" Cable was overheard darkly muttering, during the Lib Dem moan-fest in Birmingham, that Nick Clegg was foolish to claim that the Daily Mail prints "drivel" about the leader and his family. The Hate Mail is relentlessly negative about the yellow peril, so what could possibly have motivated the undertaker to defend Lord Rothermere's right-whinge rag? Surely not the cheques for £1,200 he received penning a column for the Mail on Sunday?
To a trade union gathering about Bombardier, the train-maker in Derby that was derailed when the Transport Secretary, Philip Hammond, decided to buy a ticket to ride on German carriages. The shaven-headed leader of the RMT, Bob Crow, raised a few eyebrows by saying: "I have more in common with a Chinese labourer than a City of London stockbroker." The prolier-than-thou statement may surprise Comrade Crowbar's brother. He isn't a peasant tending the rice paddies of Yunnan Province but a stockbroker living in Berkshire.
Forced to abandon his beloved, gas-guzzling Jaguar to go green during an ill-starred sojourn as Lib Dem leader, Ming Campbell has a new pride and joy: a gleaming, white Mini Cooper. Zipping around London, the grandee could be mistaken for an older Austin Powers, although the Mike Myers super agent didn't wear sock garters.
To a gig in Covent Garden by Kevin Brennan, the singer-songwriter with a sideline as MP for Cardiff West. Invited on stage to murder the line ". . . in the hole" in a rendition of the theme tune from The Wire was Tom Harris, the Doctor Who fanatic anxious to regenerate himself as leader of Scottish Labour. Big Tom looked twice as tall as the leader of Welsh Little Labour, prompting a sizeist in the audience to make the cavalier suggestion that the Boundary Commission equalise the size of MPs as well as parliamentary constituencies.
As anxious members of the shadow cabinet fret over Ed Miliband's looming reshuffle, one MP uninterested in stepping into a dead man's (or woman's) shoes is "Tommy Gun" Watson. Murdoch's nemesis is tired of telling colleagues that he isn't interested in joining the front bench. But Watson is worried that he might have to buy a pair of running shoes. A public campaign has started for him to carry the Olympic torch on one of its legs around Britain.
Kevin Maguire is associate editor (politics) of the Daily Mirror