Hilton’s like-a-Virgin moment

Cameron's guru is considered to have lost the plot.

No publicity, please, we're lobby hacks. Speaker John Bercow, it is whispered, believes it would be a jolly good idea to allow a TV crew to follow gentlemen and gentlewomen of the press in the Palace of Westminster to produce a fly-on-the-wall documentary. Markedly less enthusiastic, however, are political journalists, who - correctly - reckon that an MP or minister is much less likely to divulge interesting information in a corridor or bar if it's half a shandy and "Lights, camera, action!". The inspiration for Lobby: the Movie is the US film Page One: Inside the New York Times, which interspersed eavesdropping with formal interviews. The British version could be titled Page Nine: a Bit of British Politics After More Interesting Stories.

The Thatcher-on-a-bike garrulous guru Steve Hilton is considered by hitherto sympathetic Cameroons to have lost the plot after barking, "Fly Branson, he is the upstart" at the Educashon Secretary, Michael Gove. The privately educated Sir Richard Charles Nicholas Branson has a £3bn fortune that makes him Britain's 19th-wealthiest man, according to the Sunday Times Rich List, and the Virgin patriot makes extensive use of trusts and overseas tax havens to minimise a contribution to public services while draping himself in the Union flag. Not so much upstart as shark.

Ian Stewart, the bearded ex-member for Eccles, is the latest Labourite to chuck his cap into the ring for a mayorship. The one-time chemical plant operative fancies his chances in Salford. Round-robin emails from Liam Byrne boasting of his activity fuel speculation that he fancies a run in Birmingham, now that - to borrow a phrase - there are no seats left in Brum after the boundary commissioners abolished his Hodge Hill fiefdom.

To South Shields, where a member of the audience grumbled that when Jo Brand spoke in the town at an event organised by David Miliband, the funny woman confided that the local MP had asked her not to be too dry or - wait for it - intellectual. The aggrieved lady wondered aloud if that was a sign the brainbox former foreign secretary thinks Sandancers, as inhabitants of that stretch of Tyneside are called, are slow on the uptake. Perish the thought.

Catering staff want a supermarket-style cheap shelf installed in Commons cafés for nosh nearing its sell-by date. Nearly £44,000 of food was chucked out in the eight months up to last December. A snout in a chef's hat remarked that that could feed a small parliamentary party, or one Eric "the Hutt" Pickles.

Could the urgent text sent by the right-whinger Aidan Burley during a talk in Auschwitz by a concentration-camp survivor really have been a reply to a British hack's inquiry about dog-chipping? That's the gossip in Westminster. We may never know, because the Tory party and the former parliamentary aide, sacked by Cameron over the hiring of a Nazi uniform for a stag do in France, won't discuss the text.

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 27 February 2012 issue of the New Statesman, The God Wars