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25 January 2018updated 28 Jun 2021 4:40am

Commons Confidential: Tony Blair pays his dues

Your weekly dose of gossip from around Westminster.

By Kevin Maguire

Momentum v Momentum is shaping up to be a test of Jeremy Corbyn’s kinder, gentler politics. A barrister is attempting to mediate between children’s cancer charity Momentum, created in 2004, which trademarked the name, and the lefty movement calling itself Momentum since 2015. The small charity, which supports families in Surrey and south-west London, claims public confusion is costing it tens of thousands of pounds every year. Matters have got worse since this column revealed, two winters ago, that schools were checking the charity wasn’t the political organisation.

On one occasion, charity volunteers at a hospital were berated by a parent who mistook them for Corbynistas. My angry snout snarled that the godfather of Labour’s Momentum, Jon Lansman, accused the charity of “bad faith”. I hear Lansman has dangled £12,000
to settle the dispute.

Mickey Mouse wouldn’t be seen dead wearing a David Cameron watch since the humiliated former Prime Minister lost Europe. One Tory informant moaned that the photograph of Drippy Dave hiding under a flat cap in the Disneyland Paris rain showed he’s at a loose end. Though supposedly writing his unawaited memoirs, Drippy has been kicking his heels outside No 10. I’m told he’s surprised to discover friends are working when he invites them to play tennis on weekdays.

To the barricades for parliament’s 150 award-winning Blue Badge guides, fighting the axe alongside casuals. Most of the workers escorting £25.50-a-ticket tourists around the place are in “Red Len” McCluskey’s Unite trade union. The air’s full of rebellious talk over plans to replace them with cheaper newbies from a “guiding academy”. Picket lines outside Westminster could be this year’s must-see tourist attraction.

The word in Wales is that the battle for Labour’s deputy leadership could pitch Carolyn Harris, Corbyn’s shadow equalities minister and MP for Swansea East, against Julie Morgan, a member of the Senedd. Meanwhile, Ken Skates, the Labour administration’s economy secretary, is prominent in a Welsh Assembly by-election in which Jack Sargeant is heavily tipped to succeed his deceased father, Carl. Beleaguered First Minister Carwyn Jones isn’t invited. Skates is one of the favourites to replace Jones if he isn’t cleared by inquiries into Sargeant Senior’s death.

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I can confirm that Tony Blair is still a Labour member. Transport expert Christian Wolmar tried to canvass his vote for the party’s candidature in the Cities of London and Westminster seat. Two smiling, machine gun-armed guards took a leaflet for Blair. 

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This article appears in the 24 Jan 2018 issue of the New Statesman, How women took power