Parties always hug a leader after stabbing him

Into Tonytown where, behind the security fence, secret "clap teams" arrived at shindigs ahead of the retiring rock star to give him a rousing welcome. They shouldn't have bothered; parties always hug a leader after stabbing him in the back. At the T&G drinkathon, the union's most wayward member was serenaded after he promised guests radical socialism, then apologised that he couldn't deliver because he's off. The only glitch was a failed attempt by sycophantic Tony McNumpty, the generously proportioned immigration minister, to get up a chant of "Five more years" outside the Midland Hotel. Blair'll be lucky to get five more months.

The liar gibe by Cherie Blair, a one-woman wrecking ball, was not her first revenge strike against Big Gordie. In a mock contest to find the greatest chancellor of the past hundred years, vengeful Mrs B put Brown last. Her campaign to persuade the Robominster, John Reid, to challenge Big Gordie continues, though John Hutton, a minister who rose without trace and will vanish the same way, offered himself as a cabinet suicide candidate. He found no takers. Yet.

Miss Whiplash, Jacqui Smith, should have saved her breath after phone calls asking Osama Bin Watson and the Seven Samurai to stay out of Manchester fell on deaf ears. Watson, Chris Bryant, Siôn Simon and their fellow assassins were fêted as heroes. MPs queued to shake their hands and buy them drinks. Pity Roger Casale, the former Wimbledon MP, who went straight home after organisers lost his pass. This from the party that wants to bring in ID cards.

Sighted: Alastair Campbell, the old Rottweiler, at a party jamboree for the first time since he quit over weapons of mass deception. Ali C is earning, muttered a friend, 50K a month briefing banks behind closed doors on the Labour punch-up. Mrs Rottweiler, Fiona Millar, has parliamentary pretensions, I gather. With Glenda Jackson's Hampstead likely to be painted Lib Dem yellow by boundary commissioners, Mrs Rottweiler is eyeing Holborn and St Pancras in case Frank Dobson, recovering from a heart op, wants to spend more time in his York cottage.

Next year, will Tonytown be renamed Gordonsville or Reidmount? The Robominister assiduously wined and dined editors of right-wing rags. The Sunday Torygraph's Patience Wheatcroft was heard gushing "he's sooo wonderful, sooo tough" after staring over the dinner table at the Home Secretary for hours. That's the people without votes tied up by Robominister, then.

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 02 October 2006 issue of the New Statesman, Warming up: a new double act