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28 January 2016

Commons confidential: Every day reshuffling

The ongoing reshuffle, more bad news for Simon Danczuk Media Ltd - and is Liam Gallagher a Corbyn fan?

By Kevin Maguire

The Prime Minister bristles at the suggestion that he is a phoney who rules by PR, so it is surprising that it took his cabinet more than seven months to come up with an explanation for his most glorious own-goal. One of the highlights of the 2015 election was when the footie-mad David Cameron temporarily forgot that he was a diehard fan of his rich uncle Sir William Dugdale’s club, Aston Villa, telling an audience in south London that he was a West Ham supporter. It was a mistake that a real fan could never make but understandable from, say, a snooty poseur pretending to like soccer instead of the Eton wall game.

Dave blamed the error on a Natalie Bennett-style “brain fade”, yet the real reason, a minister who is close to the PM insisted, was that a minion had named the wrong club in a revised script. Evidently, a leader admitting publicly that he hadn’t authored the words he had spoken would be even more painful than mockery on the terraces.

No sooner does a gruelling game of musical chairs end than speculation begins about the next moves in what seems to be a permanent Labour reshuffle. Corbynistas mutter that Ed Miliband’s old chief whip Rosie Winterton is disloyal and must go. She put a £33,000 honorarium on the line by threatening to quit if Jezza’s henchman John McDonnell sacked her deputy, Alan Campbell. And who is touted by Corbynistas as her potential replacement? Nick “Newcastle” Brown, a government chief whip under Tony Blair and Gordon Brown who was dumped when Miliband wanted to make way for Winterton. What goes around . . .

Some might say that celebrity followers are more trouble than they’re worth, although I have discovered that Liam Gallagher is a supersonic admirer of “the Corbyn” and watches Prime Minister’s Questions religiously. Don’t look back in anger to the Blairite Nineties, when there was an oasis of support, d’you know what I mean?

Old cloth ears here somehow misheard a snout. It was the former deputy PM Nick Clegg, not Nick Harvey, who cheeked Jeremy Hunt in the Commons lobby. I blame last week’s boob on Dry January – especially so when Clegg calling Hunt cynical to his face is significant and Harvey is no longer even an MP. I had to beg my snout to forgive me. The indignity!

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More bad news for Simon Danczuk Media Ltd. The Rochdale MP was suspended by Labour over lewd messages to a teenager who had approached him for a job. Simple Simon hoped, I gather, to resume churning out lucrative knocking-for-money copy savaging Corbyn in the Sun and the Mail on Sunday. But both papers, I understand, are wary of paying Danczuk in future. They have standards to maintain, even if he hasn’t.

Kevin Maguire is the associate editor (politics) of the Daily Mirror

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This article appears in the 27 Jan 2016 issue of the New Statesman, Should Labour split?