To bury Caesar

Shenanigans in the British-Italian parliamentary group to leave Machiavelli blushing, with Emperor Edward Garnier paying a high price for three minutes' lateness. The Tory QC strolled into a committee room to discover he had been ousted, the sole chairmanship awarded instead in a bloodless coup to Labour's fop-haired Siôn Simon, now burnishing his Renaissance man credentials by learning the language of Rome. Garnier stood accused of seeking to be Caesar and rule unchecked since the death of his co-chair Rachel Squire, allegedly cancelling meetings to avoid sharing power with commoners. Hoping a session to elect officers would crown him alone, Garnier discovered the Labour fixer John Spellar had signed up enough citizens to start on time and crown Simon the new supremo. Garnier complained to the standards committee and Spellar consulted the rule book, while Simon, as a foodie, enjoyed a variety of Italian dishes - all best served cold.

Evidence of strained relations in Citizen Dave's camp with the curious tale of the David Davis supporter David Willetts and the Dependent, a Liberal Democrat fanzine suffering an identity crisis. Needing to speak to the cuddly one, educashun spokesman "Two Brains" Willetts forsook picking up the phone in favour of asking the Cameronite groupie Ian Birrell, a big blue cheese on the paper, to pass on a message. Tory types are split over the implications of the request, though not hacks on the Dependent, who detect a worrying drift to Cons.

Either demotion of Geoff Hoon may be overstated, or the outgoing premier read this column's disclosure that the former defence secretary kept a diary on where the Iraq bodies are buried. Every Thursday, just as he did when he was formally in the cabinet, Hoon turns up in Downing Street and sits in his regular seat next to John Prescott. Either No 10 forgets Hoon is supposed to attend only when invited, or it has decided discretion is the better part of survival, so the Europe minister is permitted to carry on as usual.

To the Compass moan-a-thon, where another ex-minister, the millionaire Fiona Mactaggart, discloses that she e-mailed the outgoing premier with a "good news" story of the Human Rights Act protecting ordinary people. Sadly, she has received no reply. Since Tony Blair picked a fight with his own flagship reform, she's advised not to log on every day.

Gladstone stares from atop a fridge at Stevie Hepburn after that collector of political memorabilia, Tony Banks, asked the Jarra lad to collect the wooden head from a Tyneside sale and then inconveniently died before taking possession. Attempts by the Labour MP to hand over the bust to Banks's widow, Sally, have so far failed, so he's thinking of donating Gladstone to the Lib Dems, on the grounds that he has more life in him than their current leader.

Speaking of Ming the Mediocre, he has been warning his depleted band of followers to apply a "Telegraph test" before uttering a word, so terrified is the Lib Dem leadership of the ferretings of the broadsheet's industrious hack Brendan Carling. The diminutive Carling should be easy for Lib Dem MPs to see coming, because he sports a black patch after losing an eye. Cherie Blair once exclaimed on spotting the scribbler - I kid you not - "There's the pirate."

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 26 June 2006 issue of the New Statesman, Africa: Better off without us?