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16 October 2014

Commons Confidential: Dave steals a kiss

“It was like Anne Frank blowing a kiss to Hitler,” said Paul O’Grady.

By Kevin Maguire

Paul O’Grady is miffed that David Cameron stole a kiss. The Prime Minister and Ed Miliband were kept apart at the Daily Mirror’s Pride of Britain Awards by a buffer zone of X Factor and Dragon’s Den contestants. O’Grady, a bit of a lefty and seated with Miliband, blew a theatrical kiss at Bruce Forsyth’s wife, Wilnelia, on the PM’s table. Not long ago, O’Grady told the world he “loathed” Cameron and George Osborne and would “like to see their heads on spikes on Tower Bridge” over the coalition’s neglect of the NHS. The Scouse comedian was therefore displeased when the Home Counties toff intercepted the air kiss. “When he waved back, thinking I had blown a kiss to him, I was totally mortified,” grumbled O’Grady to one of my snouts. “It was like Anne Frank blowing a kiss to Hitler.”

On his trip to Afghanistan during the parliamentary recess, Cameron delivered a speech in Kabul insisting the country was safe enough for Britain to pull out its troops. The boast was undermined somewhat by the PM needing a fleet of US Black Hawk helicopters to ferry him and an entourage the few miles between the airport and the presidential palace because the city streets were deemed too dangerous to travel by armoured car.

Blair Smillie is the great-grandson of Robert Smillie, co-founder of both the Scottish Labour Party and the National Union of Mineworkers. Smillie Jr-Jr-Jr is standing for Ukip in Alyn and Deeside, where Labour’s Mark Tami is defending a majority of 2,919 over the Cons. Nobody is more surprised than George Galloway. Described by the Respect MP as one of the world’s most boring men, Smillie Very Jr not long ago gave the impression that he wanted to be a candidate for Galloway’s party.

Is Cameron poised to shake up his spin team? Speculation is rife after Chris Martin, the grandly titled director general of the Prime Minister’s Office, unusually attended a No 10 briefing of lobby hacks. Martin stood at the back and observed silently. Mouthing excuses for PR Dave is a thankless job. The official spokesman, Jean-Christophe Gray, and the communications director, Craig Oliver, often sound punch-drunk. Martin is battle-hardened after spinning for Chancellors Brown, Darling and Osborne.

Was that Labour’s election supremo, Douglas Alexander, in the queue for Simon Cowell’s autograph at Pride of Britain? I think it was, unless Wee Dougie has an identical twin.

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As unfortunate coincidences go, it’s hard to beat: Operation Yewtree is a police investigation into child sex abuse set up after Jimmy Savile. Yew Tree Grooming is a pooch pampering service in Manchester. 

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