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Commons Confidential: La vie en rose for Alastair

Corporate PR is proving lucrative for the former spin doctor.

Corporate PR is proving lucrative for Alastair Campbell, who teamed up with his fellow Blair spinner Tim Allan at Portland, the agency happy to put a gloss on dodgy reputations (Barclays, Putin’s Russia, BAA – the Heathrow owner that wants to concrete over south-east England) if the price is right. A snout whispers that Britain’s weapon of mass disinformation in the Iraq war bragged to acquaintances that Labour activists in Burnley had asked if he’d stand as the Lancashire town’s parliamentary candidate. Campbell was, by all accounts, flattered but declined because he has a new love interest. He’s bought a holiday home in the south of France. It’s the fulfilment of a Blairite political dream. Omov: one man, one villa.

In the end, Louise Mensch the Cameron quitter didn’t hang around to discover what she had to do to get promoted, abandoning gritty Corby and “the great dustheap of imbeciles and dandies”, as Charles Dickens described Westminster, for a rock chick life in New York. The Tory ex-MP’s apologia for hacked-off Rupert Murdoch, however, didn’t always meet with the approval of her hubby, Peter, manager of the ear-bashing band Metallica. The music mogul was, I recall, overheard telling the Murdinator, “Tommy Gun” Watson, that Mensch should “listen to you more often” instead of defending the Sun King. Ouch!

Kelvin MacKenzie’s forged a longer career out of being the ex-editor of the Sun than he did running Murdoch’s paper. An informant sheds some light on Mr Former’s sudden departure as a Daily Mail columnist and subsequent lavish praise of Rupe for publishing a photo of Prince Harry clutching his crown jewels. MacFrenzy complained he had no friends at the Mail and, shortly before he and Lord Rothermere parted company, enquired if he’d be welcomed back at Wapping. Lionising the embattled Murdoch won’t do MacFrenzy’s cause any harm.

Carwyn Jones, the rugby-playing First Minister of Wales, is to play a bigger role in British politics. Ed Miliband’s office recognizes that the leader of the only bit of the land under Labour rule is a reminder that the party is down but not entirely out. Some in the Labour leader’s circle would like Jones the Job in the House of Commons. The man himself, however, has other ideas and prefers to govern from Cardiff.

Congress House, the TUC’s Grade II-listed pile in Great Russell Street, London, is to double as Kensington Royal Hospital” after a film producer felt its 1950s look reflects the modern health service. The wood-panelled council chamber posed as a UN room in Armando Iannucci’s biting satire In the Loop. With the trade union movement’s health faltering, redesignation as a hospital is dangerously appropriate.

How sweet: a pitman whispers that Ed Miliband took his mam, Marion, to hear him speak at this summer’s Durham Miners’ Gala. The one-time CND activist is the most left-wing surviving member of Labour’s first family.

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

Kevin Maguire is Associate Editor (Politics) on the Daily Mirror and author of our Commons Confidential column on the high politics and low life in Westminster. An award-winning journalist, he is in frequent demand on television and radio and co-authored a book on great parliamentary scandals. He was formerly Chief Reporter on the Guardian and Labour Correspondent on the Daily Telegraph.

This article first appeared in the 10 September 2012 issue of the New Statesman, Autumn politics special