Commons Confidential: A Militini: shaken, not stirred

Whatever happened to flat beer and warm white wine? Oh, I’ve just remembered – they’ll be at the studiously unfashionable Ukip conference in Doncaster.

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Tory Chief Whip Michael Gove suffered a François “Toothless Ones” Hollande moment while dissecting why working-class Glaswegians voted in their droves for independence. My snout mumbled that Gove, a product of the private Robert Gordon’s College in Aberdeen and a Times journalist always quick with a phrase, had called them “the scunners and the scorned”. Scunner, a Scottish friend told me, is a derogatory term for the downtrodden. Both the British right-whinger and the French president missed out on charm school.


Gregg McClymont, a local lad made good, doesn’t mess about canvassing in Cumbernauld. Its Labour MP, a former Oxford University history don, has a direct approach. Told by a tenant that he’d vote Yes, Professor McClymont pointed at the bloke’s pet and snarled: “See that dog? It’s got more sense than you.” Perhaps more politicians should follow the frontbencher’s lead. By the time McBrute had walked down the path and up to a neighbouring door, the man had apologised and agreed to vote No.


The London Lounge, a hipster meeting joint run by PR firm iNHouse Communications at the main conferences, will be serving cocktails at the Conservative shindig. Tories in Birmingham will be invited to sip a Mrs Bone, Neverendum or Fracking Hell. At Labour’s do in Manchester, the drinks mixed included the Marginal, the Militini and a Cost of Living Royale. Whatever happened to flat beer and warm white wine? Oh, I’ve just remembered – they’ll be at the studiously unfashionable Ukip conference in Doncaster.


A new dividing line in Labour is the phrase “cost-of-living crisis”. Disgruntled MPs refuse to use the leadership’s phrase and mock those who do as sycophants. Those who do expect to land a job if Ed Miliband wins. The dispossessed don’t.


Lefty Scot Nat Jim Sillars refused to appear on the BBC as he seemingly blames the broadcaster for the Yes defeat in the referendum. How much of a loss that will be to viewers is open to debate. Sillars also said that he’d refuse to pay for another TV licence. His heroic stand will not leave him jailed as a martyr for crying freedom from the BBC. Unfortunately for Sillars – who is 76 – people over 75 don’t pay the £145.50 licence fee.


Spare a thought for Jeremy Heywood, head of the civil service, described inaccurately as Britain’s most powerful man. After Gordon Brown’s resurrection as the saviour of Britain, he has been on the phone at all times of the day to Heywood, who had thought he’d seen the back of his tormentor when Brown left No 10. Heywood is rediscovering that there are two five o’clocks in the day. 

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 24 September 2014 issue of the New Statesman, The cult of Boris

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