Commons Confidential: BoJo’s Latin lesson

Plus Ed’s “come back, all is forgiven” message to the trade unions for them to help the No campaign in Scotland. 

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Ed Miliband is performing a reverse ferret in his Battle for Britain, with 40 Labour MPs in Scotland at stake. He has never forgiven trade unions the favour they did him in persuading members to vote for him for Labour leader, distancing himself from organised labour and marginalising it within the party. So imagine the incredulity when Desperate Ed rang Len McCluskey, Dave Prentis and other union general secretaries to beg for help to defeat Alex Salmond’s separatists. Unite in Scotland remembers Miliband’s office reporting a couple of innocent activists to the cops in the overblown Falkirk parliamentary selection row. Unite is neutral, as is Unison. Word in the two big unions is they might be in the Yes campaign if their Scottish regions called the shots. Ed should have realised he’d need the unions before he stabbed them in the back.

My advice to the Tory candidate for Easington, Chris Hampsheir, is don’t bray on trains. Passengers on a London-to-Glasgow service endured his boasts until he got off at Carlisle. If he’s reading this, I was sitting in front of you. So enjoy your £125-a-head “champagne and unlimited wine” Michael Howard fundraiser, though I doubt it’ll go down well in a deprived corner of County Durham. And next time you’re asked whether canvassing involves drinking cups of tea, don’t answer: “Pints of beer. This is the north. I have to drink them under the table.” Such a tired old stereotype.

Latin-quoting Tory and Old Etonian Buller Boris Johnson has met his match in Labour’s Coventry comp girl Mary Creagh. The party’s shadow transport secretary intended to put her school Latin to good use by urging caveat viator, let the traveller beware, when Boris Island sank under a tsunami of scorn in Howard Davies’s airports report. Alas, a spinner in Labour’s propaganda unit vetoed Creagh’s Latin lark, ruling that plain English was required. It would have been a refreshing change to the double Dutch spouted by many politicians.

Back to Hampsheir, the human foghorn in seat E36. I calculate his estimate of a 3 per cent Tory fall nationally in 2015 would result in a No 10 exit for Dave. Hampsheir doesn’t expect to overturn the Labour MP Grahame Morris’s 14,982 majority. Finishing second is his goal. “The locals want somebody young and energetic,” he declared, “to stir things up before they slumber for the next five years.” Charming.

What would Bob Crow have made of this? To save money on a hotel, the RMT hired a couple of flats for the TUC in Liverpool. The apartment block was called “Posh Pads”.

Finally, hapless Hampsheir’s verdict on the north-east: “They don’t like – properly ‘hate’ – Conservatives.” Especially in Easington. 

Kevin Maguire is the 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 appears in the 10 September 2014 issue of the New Statesman, Britain in meltdown