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15 October 2015

Commons Confidential: George’s Monkeys moment

I do trust a reporter will invite Sir George to recite the lyrics of Sufjan Stevens songs such as “A Good Man Is Hard to Find” or “Oh God, Where Are You Now?”.

By Kevin Maguire

Regal airs and graces from George Osborne. The trustafarian son of a baronet and presumptive heir to Cameron’s Tory crown is irritating the media by behaving as though he was born to rule without scrutiny.

Broadcasters mutter that the Anointed One’s rapidly expanding entourage complains noisily if TV crews lie in wait to ask questions without prior permission. Sir George prefers the friendlier approach of the Mail on Sunday editor, Geordie Greig, who played Boswell to the Chancellor’s Dr Johnson on a recent trip to China and informed us that Osborne is a fan of the trendy folk musician Sufjan Stevens.

In one of those spooky coincidences, the aforementioned performer is a favourite of Osborne’s new spin doctor, James Chapman, formerly of the Daily Mail. I do trust a reporter will invite Sir George to recite the lyrics of Sufjan songs such as “A Good Man Is Hard to Find” or “Oh God, Where Are You Now?” to prove it’s true. Or it could be an embarrassing Arctic Monkeys moment.

What of the austerity charter changer John McDonnell, Osborne’s Labour shadow? National newspapers and the Tory party (a Venn diagram would reveal a disturbingly large overlap) are combing his back catalogue. McDonnell’s first wife was tracked down by a Daily Mail hack who offered a large wad of cash to entice her into rubbishing her ex-husband. Loyally, she refused to say a bad word about him. According to McDonnellites, the lady’s new hubby moaned: “But we could’ve afforded a cruise.” McDonnell must be the first shadow cabinet member not sold down the river.

The launch of the Britain Stronger In Europe campaign at the Old Truman Brewery in Brick Lane, London, was underwhelming. I’m told its frontman, the former knicker salesman Lord Sir Stuart Rose, was “terse” behind the scenes and didn’t want to answer questions. The organiser required Lord Underwear to be interviewed by the BBC, ITN and Sky News before his speech, but Channels 4 and 5 were mightily miffed to be excluded. The preciousness of Wilting Rose will irritate pro-Europeans.

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Boris Johnson showed what he thought of Cameron’s all-our-tomorrows conference speech by singing “Bright Eyes”, the schmaltzy theme tune of the rabbit movie Watership Down. He has a nice voice, says a witness. His own leadership bid? “Is it a kind of dream, floating out on the tide?”

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

This article appears in the 14 Oct 2015 issue of the New Statesman, The Corbyn supremacy