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5 March 2015

Commons Confidential: Osborne’s hair, ads are unfair – and the whispering benches of PMQs

Plus: David Miliband returns for a Geordie crooner.

By Kevin Maguire

Early baldness is a growing curse for graduates of the posh Tory madrasa that is the Bullingdon Club. I’ve noted before that Dave Cameron’s elaborate coiffure is a tribute to the British hairdressing trade, but with my bird’s-eye view from the gallery I see his shiny pate spreading fast under those woven strands. George Osborne’s barnet is thinning, too. It is, however, hirsute Boris Johnson who stresses most over his locks. The Tory who converted ruffling a shaggy mop into a political weapon is fretting. A snout recounted how Bozo barked, “Don’t touch the hair!” at a tactile female admirer who likes nothing better than to greet the London mayor (platonically) with a rummage of the blond bouffant. The Tory troika worry they’ll look dated when the bald truth is exposed.

Best-laid plans and all that as Ukip officials tore down posters at Margate’s Winter Gardens ahead of their party conference. The adverts for a future attraction, the Circus of Horrors, drew unflattering comparisons. I hear the BBC-poacher-turned-Ukip-gamekeeper, Paul “Gobby” Lambert, shouts these days at photographers instead of yelling, “Will you resign?” at the likes of Nigel Farage. Members of the People’s Army mutter Harriet Yeo, the trade unionist and former Labour local councillor who now backs Ukip, is a diva. She declined a sarnie for lunch, despatching the amiable spinner Gawain Towler to find cockles and whelks. Yeo never had political mussel.

MPs are too quiet at Prime Minister’s Questions, according to Ed Miliband. The Labour leader complained to aides that his ranks aren’t making enough noise. Insert own joke about him giving them little to cheer about if you like – but it’s true the Labour benches don’t holler and scream like the Tories. Cameron’s pledge to end Punch-and-Judy politics is another Tory broken promise. Bercow, look out: Miliband wants to raise decibel levels in the final few jousts.

Cameron suffered much embarrassment when the Daily Mirror revealed how he had biked to Westminster, trailed by a chauffeur bearing shoes and a clean shirt. Desmond Swayne, once his parliamentary bag carrier (now a minister for poor people abroad), combines both modes of transport. My snout watched him jump out of a ministerial car as his Whitehall driver trotted behind, carrying Swayne’s bike and red box. We may guess on which floor of Downton Abbey this Tory would feel entitled to live. Come a revolution on 8 May, the two wheels are all he might be left with.

Labour strategists whisper David Miliband will play no part in the party’s campaign. The lost leader returned to his old constituency of South Shields to host an evening with Sting. After all, the elder Milibrother is an Englishman in New York. 

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