Cameron meets the Godfather

The PM was was frightened into European isolation by Paul Dacre.

Your correspondent discovered the real reason David Cameron declared no, non, nein to the rest of Europe. The Prime Minister, muttered a snout, was frightened into isolation by Paul Dacre, editor of the Daily Mail and godfather of Fleet Street. The Brusselsocracy, the Foreign Office and Deputy Dogsbody Nick Clegg were all surprised when the people's toff suddenly wrapped himself in a John Bull waistcoat. Probably because they weren't in the room when the newspaper capo dei capi granted Dave a rare audience shortly before Cameron hopped on the Eurostar.

Mr D is furious with the Prime Spinner for landing the print meeja with Leveson when Downing Street, in classic Sir Humphrey fashion, conjured up an inquiry to extricate the PM from a hook over his hiring of the ex-Screws of the World editor Andy "I Knew Nothing" Coulson. Dacre urged Cameron to find a backbone and stand up to Johnny Foreigner.

Within days, the once-hostile Mail was hailing Cameron's "courage" and "leadership" on "the day he put Britain first" with an, ahem, 26-1 defeat.
And so, the self-declared voice of Middle England has been noticeably warmer to the PM since No 10 conceded a veto over British policy on Europe to its menacing editor.

Labour MPs elected for the first time in May 2010 mutter that the ambitious Rachel Reeves is on manoeuvres. Doubtless the thirtysomething, husky-voiced rising star of the shadow cabinet would insist that to "invite all new Labour MPs to have a few drinks in my office to welcome in the New Year and new parliamentary term" in mid-January is fraternity in action. The Bank of England economist was, after all, part of Generation Ed and nominated Ted Miliband for the Labour crown. When he doesn't look rock solid, Labour MPs question the motive behind every free glass of white wine.

Hacked-off scribblers on the Burma Road - the vaingloriously named corridor off which newspapers have offices in the Houses of Parliament - are reeling from a spate of thefts. Laptops and iPads have gone walkies, stolen from unlocked rooms. Journos grumble the crime wave follows the opening to everyone of Moncrieff's, the one-time press bar. The cops are on the case and there's talk of improved security, including covert surveillance. I predict a bad press for any villain caught.

Louise Mensch posing in a leather-fronted £485 skirt and £271 silk blouse to condemn the "trivialisation" of women politicians and bemoan her lack of promotion was typical chutzpah. The bonkbuster Tory and chick-lit Cameroon once told another female MP that "all publicity is good publicity", an adage that her Nazi-uniform-storm colleague Aidan Burley might contest.

Guests of MPs are to be allowed to buy drinks in Strangers' Bar. The ban was observed largely in the breach, but the formal change is the latest consequence of the clampdown on expenses. Austerity begins at home for MPs hitherto expected to buy a round for thirsty constituents.

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 09 January 2012 issue of the New Statesman, Forget Obama