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25 September 2019

Commons Confidential: Ayatollah Jeremy’s cocktail party

Your weekly dose of gossip from around Westminster. 

By Kevin Maguire

The plot thickens over the failed assassination of Tom Watson: a snout in the leader’s office whispers that Karie Murphy conspired to rub out the deputy after Jeremy Corbyn failed, having initially agreed, to strip him of the culture brief. Sheepish Jon Lansman isn’t taking the rap, overheard in a Brighton bar insisting that Corbyn’s mob sanctioned the hit.

Watson can’t believe his luck, taunting Lansman as the hitman who shot himself in the foot. Seumas Milne insisted his black eye was caused by bending down to pull a plug out of a socket rather than a brush with Watson or Andrew Fisher. Bumping into Watson, Milne asked Labour’s deputy dawg how he was feeling. The look on his face suggested that “I’m rejuvenated” wasn’t the answer he wanted to hear.

Corbyn and Momentum are no longer Labour’s Romeo and Juliet, love between the pair strained by Europe and accusations of authoritarianism at the top. Revolutionary guards in the movement call the party’s supreme leader “Ayatollah” behind his back.

Brexit votes chaotically overrunning in Brighton meant that the leader’s diary had to be hastily rejigged. Corbyn pulled out of a Grenfell fringe event with the Fire Brigades Union. Around the time that I was reading a powerful solidarity statement and emailed apologies, Corbyn was seen by a snout in a Bloomberg cocktail party rubbing shoulders with the business elite. Priorities, comrade.

First the Milbrothers, Ed and David, then the Johnsons, Boris and Jo, and now the Kinnocks, Neil and Stephen. The former Eurocrat and his Brexit-lite MP son disagree on Labour’s policy, I’m told, with Kinnock Senior battling to stay and Kinnock Junior arguing for Leave. No family is immune.

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Are intolerant Conservative control freaks frightened of child refugees? The party has refused to let the International Observatory of Human Rights hold a meeting at the party conference in Manchester to discuss how the Home Office makes a £400-plus profit on every citizenship application from kids. Maybe the Tories want to keep it a dirty little secret.

Labour ex-sports minister Gerry Sutcliffe spends his freedom from parliament romping in Yorkshire with a group of Bradford friends. The merry band called themselves The Walking and Talking Society until a member realised the acronym of their name wasn’t the impression they wished to give to the world.

Labour MPs Neil Coyle and Ian Murray are regularly confused with one another by members of the public. Murray asks everyone who thinks he’s Coyle to lend him £20.

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

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This article appears in the 25 Sep 2019 issue of the New Statesman, The great disgrace