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30 October 2014

Commons Confidential: Osborne’s nightmare on Downing Street

George’s back should be bleeding from the number of Tory knives plunged into him. 

By Kevin Maguire

Amid the talk of Labour’s Jim Murphy seeking a future in the Scottish Parliament, speculation grows in Scotland over whether it’ll be back to the future for Alex Salmond. The SNP separatist brushes aside questions about his possible (probable?) return to the UK parliament. My spy tells me the Tartan Chieftain is taking the temperature in the Westminster seat of Gordon, which overlaps with his Holyrood estate of Aberdeenshire East. Lib Dem grandee Malcolm Bruce retires next May and the 6,748 majority is considered vulnerable, with the SNP the runner-up last time around. The move would get Salmond out of SNP queen Nicola Sturgeon’s hair in Edinburgh and the capital of Scotland’s colonial occupiers isn’t without attractions for the former first minister. He seemed to enjoy London’s bars and betting shops when last an MP.

George Osborne’s back should be bleeding from the number of Tory knives plunged into him. Con MPs mumble darkly that the only long-term plan of the party’s chief election strategist is to manoeuvre his cronies into position so he’ll be crowned king when David Cameron is ousted or abdicates. The current target of the Tory disenchanted is Rupert Harrison, so posh he makes Trust Fund “Sir” George seem common. Harrison, Osborne’s brain at the Treasury, isn’t your run-of-the-mill Old Etonian like Dave or Boris. He’s a former head boy. The whisper is that a safe seat is Rupe’s for the asking. The Tory unfavoured, forced to knock on doors for years to secure a constituency, are resentful. One seething MP recalled canvassing a grand house in west London when the door was answered by a younger Rupert, who replied that he was voting Green.

I’m told vice-chair was the Labour role that ex-postie Alan Johnson, now promoting his second volume of memoirs, declined to remain a man of letters. Ed Miliband hasn’t given up on a one-time home secretary who speaks human. Johnson promised to do the rounds of TV and radio studios for the party in the new year. In the scrap for blue-collar votes, the mailman has the edge on Ukip’s Nigel Farage, as well as Tory posh boys. Johnson was heading for work when the City slicker Farage was reeling home from the pub.

A snout’s eye was drawn to a notice at the peers’ entrance to parliament listing locations of defibrillators. In the House of Cronies, the dead wood resists not only reform but the call to God’s waiting room.

Vanquished David Miliband keeps his cards close to his chest in New York, yet remains in touch with British soulmates. Asked what the elder Milibrother thinks of the younger’s performance, a prominent Labour figure who saw him recently replied: “David feels sorry for Ed.” 

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