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  1. Politics
27 November 2014

Commons Confidential: Ukip gets handbagged

Durham’s formidable Pat Glass plopped her bag down next to the Ukip duo with the warning: “Touch that and you’re dead.”

By Kevin Maguire

Ukip’s odd couple, cerebral Douglas Carswell and brutish Mark Reckless, are marked men after the great parliamentary handbags scandal of November 2014. Hounded from the front bench below the gangway occupied by Dennis Skinner & Co, the pair retreated to the row behind. Then the north-east MPs Emma Lewell-Buck and Sharon Hodgson returned from a vote to find their bags moved by Farageists now in their seats. The Labour women protested and the Purple Shirts childishly folded their arms, refusing to budge. Erith’s Teresa Pearce taunted the Ukip twosome that they wouldn’t have dared shift the belongings of Skinner and Ian Lavery, ex-miners. Another suggested Lewell-Buck and Hodgson check that nothing was missing. Durham’s formidable Pat Glass plopped her handbag down next to the Ukip duo with the warning: “Touch that and you’re dead.”

Democratic Unionist MP Jeffrey “No Surrender” Donaldson had an encounter he’ll be relieved the folk back home in Lagan Valley didn’t see. It was with Brian Warfield of the Wolfe Tones, a Dublin-based band famed for its Irish rebel songs, of which Donaldson’s more hardline constituents violently disapprove. Warfield was leaving the Palace of Varieties when they bumped into each other. I hear the unionist who infamously opposed the Good Friday Agreement was sweating as he informed Warfield he’d like to go to a Wolfe Tones concert and would love to be sent a CD. I trust the disc will include “Joe McDonnell”, a tribute to the fifth IRA hunger striker to die.

Michael Gove detests his job as Tory chief whip. The demoted education secretary recently lost a vote on pubs, yet it is the occasion when he was stuck in a lavatory that best symbolises his deepening gloom. A snout whispered that a liberally refreshed Gove summed up his role to dinner-party guests as “arse-wiping” MPs.

When Ed Miliband isn’t feeling pride in passing white vans or houses draped in St George flags, he avoids voters near his £2.3m home in north London’s moneyed Dartmouth Park. They’re all grumbling about the mansion tax. “It hasn’t made me popular with the neighbours,” he sighed.

Billionaire Tory peer Michael Ashcroft served wines from his vineyard at the launch of his new book, Special Ops Heroes, curiously published by Headline rather than Biteback, which he owns. True blues were forced to drink red. My informant mumbled drinkers of the unpalatable white deserved a medal for their bravery.

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So Gordon Brown is stepping down as an MP despite issuing a molten denial when this column reported last April that he was off. I find that “no plans” rebuttals are invariably confirmatory. 

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

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