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14 July 2016

Commons confidential: Jezza’s new tricks

Labour spinners have finally taught Jeremy Corbyn to smile and bid a cheery good morning to the capitalist media on leaving home in the morning.

By Kevin Maguire

Theresa May the Home Counties disciplinarian was crowned Prime Minister in her steel-capped kitten heels after the flaky Andrea Leadsom spontaneously combusted in the mother of all rows – but my snouts report that Leadsom was already struggling with public scrutiny. Rising without trace during the Brexit campaign, the champion of the Tories’ Tea Party wing yearns for her old anonymity.

I was told of an incident that shook the Leadbanger when she was buying her lunch in Pret A Manger. A stranger asked, “Are you Angela . . . I mean Andrea Leadsom?” Her shy smile of acknowledgement quickly turned into a bemused scowl when he said, “I hope you don’t win,” before stomping off angrily. The May Queen would have cut him down with an icy stare.

Old dogs can learn new tricks. Labour spinners have finally taught Jeremy Corbyn to smile and bid a cheery good morning to the capitalist media on leaving home in the morning, rather than grumpily snatching microphones or putting a hand over camera lenses. The charm offensive isn’t as useful as legal advice to fight Labour’s National Executive Committee, but it’s a start.

John McDonnell, Jezza’s comrade, complains that he has been too busy to cut his hedge, so camera crews lurk in the overgrown foliage, ready to pounce as soon as he closes the front door.

For a party leader with a cult following, Corbyn sounds more like an assistant manager of a provincial building society than a messianic saviour.

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The nation’s best-known allotment holder was among the faithful at the Durham Miners’ Gala, yet he was touchingly surprised to find himself the main attraction. He leaped out of his seat at the meeting, possibly hoping to match Dennis Skinner’s tub-thumping call to arms against Labour’s enemies within and its Tory foes without. The Dear Leader captured the image but, alas, couldn’t repeat the oratory.

In the newly class-conscious Labour Party, one MP won’t back Angela Eagle because: “She calls her father ‘Daddy’.”

Paranoia in the Corbyn camp: a member whispers that a prominent figure in the shadow cabinet suspects that another is an MI5 informant. Nothing should surprise anybody when politics is on steroids, but surely Labour is more wobbly MFI with a few screws missing than MI5?

“The cheese and wine tasting event due to take place this Saturday has been postponed. Due to the turmoil going on at the top of the party, we thought that this might not be the best time to have a knees-up,” announced a sobering email to Labour activists in Kingston and Surbiton. Shiraz socialism, it seems, is collapsing.

David who?

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

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This article appears in the 13 Jul 2016 issue of the New Statesman, The Brexit PM