Cameron’s candid camera

Eagle-eyed viewers spotted PR Dave's maniacally darting pupils.

One of the most dangerous places in the world is the ground between David Cameron and a TV camera, starring on the small screen being a marked obsession of our Prime Spinner. Eagle-eyed viewers watching television coverage of the G20 damp squib in rain-soaked Cannes spotted PR Dave's maniacally darting pupils. Mr Over Here was observed locating the lens before struggling to act relaxed with world leaders. The Prime Spinner's problem is that, once he knows the bearings of the camera, his eyes flick back to check that it hasn't moved. The result is that Cameron looks shifty. Critics argue that it proves the old adage about the camera never lying.

Ed Miliband is called David so often (the confused include Harriet "David, er, Ed" Harman and an Independent editorial on the day the paper carried a front-page interview with the Labour leader) that he has started to joke about it. The junior Milibrother regaled a Labour North-West jamboree in Blackpool with the tale of how Mervyn King, governor of the Bank of England, was passed a slip of paper by an official during a recent encounter. Another quickly followed. Ed asked if the economy was collapsing. King answered no: the first wanted him to ask what the Four Seasons was like in Palo Alto, California. The second said don't bother, because the official had realised that David, not Ed, had stayed at the hotel.

At the launch of his memoirs, Ken Livingstone recalled the 25 pages of lawyer's notes that he had been required to answer. The barrister, Red Ken mused, wanted to know how he could prove that Tony Blair had lied. The ensuing laughter was an answer in itself, but what it would take for Blair - unlike the writ-happy lifestyle adviser Carole Caplin - to sue is an intriguing question.

I hear that the shire Tory Robert Walter's entry on the register of members' interests of "farmland in Devon" masks a very personal sadness. The former sheep farmer and City banker robustly informed a nosy hack that he pockets no European agricultural subsidies on the plot. "I own a very small parcel of land," wrote the North Dorset MP, "which contains my late wife's grave." Walter's first wife, Sally, died in 1995. The tragi-romantic response ended all inquiries.

Virtually every paper in Fleet Street, as well as this column, repeated an assertion in the Mail on Sunday (MoS) last August that the jailed former MP Elliot Morley had a £3,000 Rolex nicked while doing time. So, mea culpas all round are in order, after the MoS Corrections and Clarifications column conceded this month: “He has never owned a Rolex." Jim Callaghan remarkedthat a lie is halfway around the world before the truth gets its boots on. Morley needs a pair of running shoes to catch this one.

Last week's item about the blogger Guido Fawkes not claiming a prize of sitting for Martin Rowson prompted a reader to inform your correspondent that the cartoonist has a stuffed wolf's head in the entrance hall of his home in sarf-east London. I thought the idea was to keep the wolf from the door.

The changing face of poverty: Morrisons in Jarrow sold oysters for 60p each as a bunch of young Trots retraced the footsteps of the 1936 crusade to London.

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 14 November 2011 issue of the New Statesman, The NHS 1948-2011, so what comes next?

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Geoffrey Howe dies, aged 88

Howe was Margaret Thatcher's longest serving Cabinet minister – and the man credited with precipitating her downfall.

The former Conservative chancellor Lord Howe, a key figure in the Thatcher government, has died of a suspected heart attack, his family has said. He was 88.

Geoffrey Howe was the longest-serving member of Margaret Thatcher's Cabinet, playing a key role in both her government and her downfall. Born in Port Talbot in 1926, he began his career as a lawyer, and was first elected to parliament in 1964, but lost his seat just 18 months later.

Returning as MP for Reigate in the Conservative election victory of 1970, he served in the government of Edward Heath, first as Solicitor General for England & Wales, then as a Minister of State for Trade. When Margaret Thatcher became opposition leader in 1975, she named Howe as her shadow chancellor.

He retained this brief when the party returned to government in 1979. In the controversial budget of 1981, he outlined a radical monetarist programme, abandoning then-mainstream economic thinking by attempting to rapidly tackle the deficit at a time of recession and unemployment. Following the 1983 election, he was appointed as foreign secretary, in which post he negotiated the return of Hong Kong to China.

In 1989, Thatcher demoted Howe to the position of leader of the house and deputy prime minister. And on 1 November 1990, following disagreements over Britain's relationship with Europe, he resigned from the Cabinet altogether. 

Twelve days later, in a powerful speech explaining his resignation, he attacked the prime minister's attitude to Brussels, and called on his former colleagues to "consider their own response to the tragic conflict of loyalties with which I have myself wrestled for perhaps too long".

Labour Chancellor Denis Healey once described an attack from Howe as "like being savaged by a dead sheep" - but his resignation speech is widely credited for triggering the process that led to Thatcher's downfall. Nine days later, her premiership was over.

Howe retired from the Commons in 1992, and was made a life peer as Baron Howe of Aberavon. He later said that his resignation speech "was not intended as a challenge, it was intended as a way of summarising the importance of Europe". 

Nonetheless, he added: "I am sure that, without [Thatcher's] resignation, we would not have won the 1992 election... If there had been a Labour government from 1992 onwards, New Labour would never have been born."

Jonn Elledge is the editor of the New Statesman's sister site CityMetric. He is on Twitter, far too much, as @JonnElledge.