Support 100 years of independent journalism.

  1. Culture
2 February 2017updated 08 Feb 2017 9:24am

Commons Confidential: Labour’s bull’s eye

Charlotte speaks, a Colonel drinks, and John Gwynne provides a pointed metaphor for Labour's troubles.

By Kevin Maguire

The Prime Minister must rue grounding the highly experienced Downing Street spokesperson Helen Bower after the press conference in Ankara at which she was questioned about Donald Trump’s racist travel ban.

The press pack reckoned that Bower’s absence – the civil servant was left in Blighty as “punishment” for an impending switch to spin for Boris Johnson at the Foreign Office – led to Theresa May’s excruciating blanking of questions, which provoked heckling. Bower is a pro and is switched on. The Tory “Gang of Five” on May’s trip, including the joint chiefs of staff, missed the danger signals. Bower was squeezed out by Team May.

Heated words were exchanged in the shadow cabinet when the party’s election co-ordinator, Jon “Tricky” Trickett, tried to dodge briefing MPs. The quietly spoken John Cryer, the chair of the Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP), unusually raised his voice when Tricky declared that anybody who wanted to know about Labour’s preparedness for Mayaggedon should observe the Copeland by-election.

Exasperated, Cryer demanded that Trickett speak to a PLP meeting at 6pm on a Monday in room 14. Tricky’s reluctance is perhaps understandable. His last update was described by one MP present as the worst that he had ever endured.

Colonel Bob Stewart spluttered into his pint on a sneaky foray into the Bogside during a Northern Ireland committee visit when Labour’s Stevie Hepburn informed the Tory officer that Peadar O’Donnell’s, the Derry bar that they were supping in, is named after an IRA veteran. In uniform, Colonel Bob was the local commander when a bomb killed 17, including 11 soldiers, in the Droppin’ Well bar in the nearby Ballykelly. That Stewart could order a drink without a care in the world underlined how far Northern Ireland has come.

Select and enter your email address Quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics from the New Statesman's politics team. The New Statesman’s global affairs newsletter, every Monday and Friday. Your new guide to the best writing on ideas, politics, books and culture each weekend - from the New Statesman. A weekly newsletter helping you fit together the pieces of the global economic slowdown. A newsletter showcasing the finest writing from the ideas section, covering political ideas, philosophy, criticism and intellectual history - sent every Wednesday. The New Statesman’s weekly environment email on the politics, business and culture of the climate and nature crises - in your inbox every Thursday. Sign up to receive information regarding NS events, subscription offers & product updates.
  • Administration / Office
  • Arts and Culture
  • Board Member
  • Business / Corporate Services
  • Client / Customer Services
  • Communications
  • Construction, Works, Engineering
  • Education, Curriculum and Teaching
  • Environment, Conservation and NRM
  • Facility / Grounds Management and Maintenance
  • Finance Management
  • Health - Medical and Nursing Management
  • HR, Training and Organisational Development
  • Information and Communications Technology
  • Information Services, Statistics, Records, Archives
  • Infrastructure Management - Transport, Utilities
  • Legal Officers and Practitioners
  • Librarians and Library Management
  • Management
  • Marketing
  • OH&S, Risk Management
  • Operations Management
  • Planning, Policy, Strategy
  • Printing, Design, Publishing, Web
  • Projects, Programs and Advisors
  • Property, Assets and Fleet Management
  • Public Relations and Media
  • Purchasing and Procurement
  • Quality Management
  • Science and Technical Research and Development
  • Security and Law Enforcement
  • Service Delivery
  • Sport and Recreation
  • Travel, Accommodation, Tourism
  • Wellbeing, Community / Social Services
Visit our privacy Policy for more information about our services, how New Statesman Media Group may use, process and share your personal data, including information on your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications.

The darts commentator John Gwynne – the father of Andrew Gwynne, the Denton and Reddish MP and Labour’s Copeland mastermind – will host a Whitehaven exhibition match during the by-election campaign with Phil “the Power” Taylor, the Roger Federer of arrows. Gwynne, Jr will hit the political bull’s eye if Labour’s 2,564 majority survives a sustained Tory assault.

The sweary “voice of an angel” Charlotte Church has been invited to address the Durham Miners’ Gala in July. Her agent asked if there’s a fee. The organisers should have replied that they don’t charge and she can speak to the masses for free.

A snout alighting a bus in Vauxhall, London, noticed the Big Issue’s former home is now a Foxtons estate agency. Supplanting the magazine of the homeless may be a case of peak gentrification.

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

This article appears in the 01 Feb 2017 issue of the New Statesman, American carnage