Slo-mo BoJo’s no-show in E-Cro

The comedy of errors that is Johnson's mayoralty is the capital's best free show.

The word in the Parliamentary Labour Party is that Ed Miliband will in future seek to avoid appointing members of the shadow cabinet who are older than his 41 years. That, muttered my craggy snout, would rule out upwards of half the Commons. The disgruntled Labour shop steward raised the suggestion that Little Ed, discriminating on grounds of age, might breach an Equality Act championed by Harriet Harman who, at 61, is guaranteed her own seat as the younger Milibrother's elected deputy.

Industrial action by public servants saw the Commons environment committee reschedule a trip to Copenhagen. The group's chair, shire Tory Anne McIntosh, decreed the band should depart London a day early to avoid passport chaos at the airport. Labour MPs planned to boycott the members' tea room where managers were poured in to replace striking staff. And the tricky issue of crossing parliamentary picket lines was sidestepped by proposals for a GMB rally on the premises, which Labour MPs needed to be in the building to attend. The struggle indeed takes many forms.

Oh yes she is: pantomime dame Ann Widdecombe will galumph shortly in the Dartford production of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. The former minister is cast as Widdy in Waiting, long-suffering servant of the Strictly Come Dancing judge Craig Revel Horwood's Wicked Queen.

Boris Johnson arriving late in Croydon's Fairfields Halls to bang the drum for urban regeneration (he took a train to East Dulwich instead of East Croydon, a mistake of eight miles) wasn't the Mayor of London's only gaffe. Bumbling Boris also forgot to mention his office's £23m investment in the south London borough - the very reason BoJo was invited. The comedy of errors that is Johnson's mayoralty is the capital's best free show.

How do MPs lolling on the back benches stay awake during boring speeches? The latest game is constituency punning. Thus Kevin Brennan was overheard describing a flu-ey Stephen Pound as healing (Ealing - geddit?); Pound telling Lisa Nandy of a transvestite with a wig and a dress (Wigan address); while Nandy's offering was a man exploding in the Splott area of Brennan's Cardiff backyard. Should the trio ever follow Widders on to the stage they could always perform Puns Upon a Time.

I hear Commons authorities were knocked over in the rush when the catering department sought 70 redundancies - some 200 staff looking to grab the money and run. Taking a chance down the jobcentre when unemployment is soaring is apparently a more attractive prospect than serving MPs.

Best joke after Ed Balls claimed, in my view somewhat improbably, that he blubbed at Antiques Roadshow: when Ed Miliband was told the other Ed blubbed over families keeping valuable heirlooms, the Labour leader admitted he reacted the same way to his brother David.

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 05 December 2011 issue of the New Statesman, The death spiral