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Rod Stewart has become an unlikely hero on the left – and it’s all thanks to Carolyn Harris

Your weekly dose of gossip from around Westminster.

By Kevin Maguire

The former school dinner lady Carolyn Harris is credited with playing an unsung part in the Tory rocker Rod Stewart championing striking nurses and calling for Keir Starmer and Labour to be given a chance to run Britain. The bustling Swansea East MP is Westminster’s most formidable campaigner, and one cause dear to her heart is how those experiencing the menopause are treated.

Harris’s interest in the issue is shared with the former model Penny Lancaster, who is also the wife of the aforementioned crooner. The duo chat regularly and Lancaster, who is a special constable, is personally aware of the decline in public services, while Stewart’s experienced first hand how austerity has impacted the ailing NHS. “Carolyn’s a force of nature and Penny’s a huge influence on Rod,” cooed a Harris admirer, “and his speaking out is brilliant for us.” Luckily for Starmer, “I Don’t Want to Talk About It” is a 1977 hit rather than a description of Red Rod’s state of mind.

Vein-bulging bully boy Dominic Raab’s petulant resignation was swiftly overshadowed by Diane Abbott dissociating herself from the anti-Semitic views she expressed in a letter to the Observer. MPs are taking bets on whether Starmer will eventually restore the whip to the first black woman elected to parliament, or whether she’ll be blocked from standing again for Labour – or if the MP for Hackney North and Stoke Newington (who will celebrate her 70th birthday in September) will now retire. One MP, a Labour critic of Abbott’s politics, suggested that Hackney would select a young left-wing replacement.

Bully-finder Adam Tolley KC has triggered fear and paranoia among cabinet ministers since the recent public execution of the deputy prime minister and justice secretary. Following an investigation into his conduct, Raab was found to have been at times “intimidating” to civil servants and acted in a manner that was “persistently aggressive”. Word is one anxious senior minister has already contacted the inquisitor to discuss concerns raised about his own behaviour. Browbeaters becoming the hunted is justice, inquiry-style.

Few tears are shed by Tories over the fall of the corporatist Confederation of British Industry (CBI) – rather it is Labour that’s weeping. From Keir Starmer and Rachel Reeves to Jonathan Reynolds and Lisa Nandy, senior figures are ruing the loss of hundreds, perhaps thousands, of precious hours invested in courting the strangled voice of business. The collapse of the CBI, groaned a grafter in the shadow Treasury team, is matched only by the SNP’s poll precipice.

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[See also: National Conservatism: the new Tory movement against globalism]

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This article appears in the 26 Apr 2023 issue of the New Statesman, The New Tragic Age