A spot of Milibother

Mutterings are growing louder over the stuttering performance of Ed Miliband.

There's a joke doing the rounds: what's the difference between North Korea and the Labour Party? In North Korea, the hereditary communism is
in one family. With Labour, hereditary socialism has two families - the Milibrothers and Balls-Cooper. Mutterings are growing louder over the stuttering performance of Ed Miliband, with MPs regularly heard discussing how he might be replaced by (depending on who bends your ear) Brother David, Yvette Cooper or Ed Balls. The outburst by Unite's Red Len was a general secretary wondering aloud if the unions backed a loser in helping him win. His isn't a lone voice. Watch this space.

The two Milibrothers at least now speak, insisted a snout. About family matters. Politics, I was told, remains off-limits. I bet Kim Jong-un, the Ed Miliband of Pyongyang, doesn't suffer similar opposition from his overlooked elder brothers, the Kims Jong-nam and Jong-chol. The North Korean dictator is able to slam plotters in prison; the Labour leader appeases them with spending cuts.

Either all football players listen to the Today programme or Jeremy "Berkeley" Hunt is universally unpopular. Learning to referee after admitting he knew nothing about the world's most popular sport, the culture vulture was subjected to a volley of the Jim Naughties. If the Old Carthusian had shown greater enthusiasm for sport at school, he'd be familiar with offsides. Charterhouse, Hunt's £30k-a-year alma mater, claims to be a founder of what other private establishments sneeringly refer to as the round ball game - Old Carthusians won the FA Cup in 1881.

Hunt best not mention that victory to Dave Cameron. They beat Old Etonians 3-0 at the Kennington Oval.

The loose cannon Eric Joyce, a one-time major in the Royal Army Education Corps, displayed some brass neck in taking to the airwaves to criticise Ed Miliband for issuing a "bring it on" challenge to Lord Cameron of Downing Street. The phrase, declared the ex-major loftily, reminded him of a Steve Coogan parody. Unlike the Labour MP who confessed “I'm crap" at politics. Or the politician who tweeted "Glassman [sic] is a cock, surely" after Mili's persona non guru, Maurice Glasman, criticised Little Ted in these pages. And who sounded like Alan Partridge? Eric "Mind Your Language" Joyce.

The shadow farming minister, Huw Irranca-Davies, got in touch after last week's item about the new girl Seema Malhotra discovering an ironing board in the lady members' room - Westminster real life in 2012 replicating a 1959 scene in The Iron Lady.

Deep in the bowels of the Mock-Gothic Fun Palace, revealed Mr I-D, the chaps have a board of their own. Equality! The Ogmore MP removes the creases after cycling to work. As do, said Mr I-D, "assorted betowelled Lib Dems and eminent former Labour foreign secs". The latter is a tiny group and the former must be a terrifying sight.

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 23 January 2012 issue of the New Statesman, Has the Arab Spring been hijacked?