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21 May 2015

Commons Confidential: endangered cats, rebellious Scots and the battle for the Edstone

What does the Downing Street cat reveal about the general election?

By Kevin Maguire

I bring you Larry, the No 10 cat, as evidence that David Cameron was braced for election defeat. Towards the end of the campaign, miaowed a snout, anxious Downing Street retainers telephoned Ed Miliband’s consigliere, Stewart Wood, to seek assurance that the Labour leader would retain the pussy. Fretting staff feared that Miliband was the type to suffer allergies. Wood informed Downing Street that the moggie could stay. We’ll never know if Larry would have kept Ed.

Amid the SNP fun and games over benches and oaths, an informant whispered that Nicola “Queen of Scots” Sturgeon had refused to bow her head when the Queen passed in Westminster Abbey at the VE Day commemoration.

The Nats would retain Her Maj as the head of an independent Scotland, yet they smart over her relief at the referendum defeat. My snout also observed that Sturgeon had failed to sing “God Save the Queen”. The people there didn’t reach the line about the “rebellious Scots to crush”.

Colonel Bob Stewart isn’t a Tory who believes that voters are always right. The usually genial former army officer gave both barrels to a snarling constituent in Beckenham who shouted that he hated him and would support Ukip. “You’re a horrid little man and I don’t want your vote,” Stewart blasted back. A near-20,000 majority in a safe Conservative seat is a handy ally in any counteroffensive.

ITN editors, apparently fretting that they could jeopardise future royal interviews, inserted a three-hour delay before the online broadcast of a film in which Kristina Kyriacou, Prince Charles’s PR, grabs Michael Crick’s microphone. Oh, to have been a fly on the wall when Crick’s Channel 4 colleague Jon Snow attended an event in the City that evening with the prince.

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The Labour peer and one-time TUC general secretary John Monks wants the Edstone for the People’s History Museum in Manchester. Monks would put it alongside Harold Wilson’s pipe and Michael Foot’s donkey jacket – actually an expensive Harrods overcoat. I suspect that Monks has as much chance of obtaining Ed’s tombstone as he has of persuading David Cameron to donate the silver spoon that was in his mouth when he was born.

When England called up the Durham fast bowler Mark Wood for the Test series against New Zealand, tears came to the eyes of Labour’s Ian Lavery. The former miner recalled a young Wood delivering Labour leaflets in Wansbeck. There’ll be heart attacks in Lord’s Long Room.

It’s touching to see the bar code on the bottom of Nicky Morgan’s new shoes. It was like the first day at a new school for the reappointed Education Secretary.

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