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Commons Confidential: Ed’s art of “wash and go”

Miliband buys normal shampoo and doesn’t use a hairdryer. When a trim is needed, a male hairdresser pops into his Commons office and is out within 15 minutes.

By Kevin Maguire

All those moob taunts and comparisons to a beached porpoise when he bulges in a wetsuit on a Cornish beach have finally got to David Cameron. The latest Downing Street cover-up was Down Under during the G20 summit after the team of the Aussie premier, Tony Abbott, suggested the pair go walkabout in Sydney in shorts. There’s a touch of the bare-chested, Putin-style machismo in Abbott’s fondness for posing in swimming trunks so brief that the term “budgie smuggler” could have been invented for him. No 10 spinner Craig Oliver, mindful that his boss’s calves might appear weak and pale next to those of the G20 summit’s host, took no chances. Oliver vetoed naked flesh, so Cameron and Abbott strolled in long trousers. Many Britons will be relieved to be seeing less of Cameron.

The PM’s authority was challenged in the Rochester and Strood by-election not just by Ukip but by Tory MPs, too, with scores declining to canvass once in the former Conservative seat, let alone make the three visits decreed by Cameron. My snout in a Tory raiding party grumbled that on his trip a hat-trick of trains was cancelled at London Victoria. The group spent longer travelling to and from Kent than it knocked on doors. Tory hopeful Kelly Tolhurst proved that a £50,000 open postal primary is no guarantee of a decent candidate. She turned at hustings to Labour’s Naushabah Khan and whispered, “Is that your brother?” following a question from a man in a turban. Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi is Labour’s Gravesham candidate. He is a Sikh. Khan is a Muslim. British Asians don’t all look the same.

This column’s obsession with the construction of an increasingly elaborate barnet to hide Cameron’s expanding bald patch prompted a Labourite to boast – yes, boast – that Miliband is a “wash and go” politician with a good head of hair. He buys normal shampoo and doesn’t use a hairdryer. When a trim is needed, a male hairdresser pops into Miliband’s Commons office and is out within 15 minutes. It’s the small victories over the Tories that keep Labour going.

Cameron at G20 avoided a repeat of the occasion he called the TUC’s Frances O’Grady “the lady in the red dress” (see last week’s column) by refusing to meet her and other trade union leaders. Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah, the ruler of a state in which women are banned from driving, similarly shunned organised labour. Germany’s Angela Merkel happily met the unions. As my mother would say, Dave the Sexist keeps the wrong company.

Baroness Royall apologised to peers for the “late start” of a reception with the Archbishop of Canterbury. Only in God’s waiting room could 7.30pm be thought of as “late”. l

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

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