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Charmless Gove’s school report

Kevin Maguire's "Commons Confidential" column.

A campaign is growing to persuade Dame Tessa Jowell to wear the red rosette at the next London mayoral election. The name of the Olympic ring mistress is being mentioned increasingly, including within Ed Miliband’s circles, when the party gazes into the future.

Jowell is a Blairite in Lefty London but she won admirers by loyally championing Ken Livingstone in 2012. She’s 65 and is widely expected to vacate Dulwich and West Norwood at the next election. Jowellites hope that Auntie Tessa will run for City Hall instead of retiring to the House of Lords.

Boris Johnson won’t go for a third term in 2016. But Tottenham’s David Lammy will fancy his chances – and the rail expert Christian Wolmar has left the station and is already seeking endorsements.

Michael Gove’s ears must have been burning after a regal tour of a highly rated state secondary, Coombe Girls’ School, with the local Old Etonian Zac Goldsmith. The two private-school boys were accorded due deference during the visit to south-west London, until the Educashon Secretary departed and the tone changed dramatically.

Teachers told the girls, my informant recounted, how much they hated the minister who frequently holds their profession in contempt. If he’s to succeed David Cameron, the lesson for Mickey is to show a little more charm and give a lot less offence.

Britain’s nascent Eurofan fightback against the Europhobes is tussling with how to utilise Denis MacShane, a former MP who many on both sides of the Commons feel was treated roughly when forced to quit Rotherham. It was MacEurope, a walking encyclopaedia on all things EU, who spotted instantly that Cameron’s double-Dutch big speech on 22 January would upset Monsieur Hollande and Frau Merkel by clashing with the 50th-anniversary celebrations in Berlin of a Franco- German Élysée treaty. Denis the Menace has baggage but few will be as combative or as skilled in the trench warfare ahead.

Labour whips are ordering the party’s MPs to keep questions to the Prime Minister brief. Slow-motion replays by whips of the weekly 30-minute jousts identified George Osborne as the source of Cameron’s sharper replies, the Chancellor sitting next to the PM to pour ripostes into Call Me Dave’s left ear. The idea is that fast points will leave Ossie unable to help his fellow Buller Boy.

Nick Clegg, to the sedentary right, concentrates so hard on avoiding twitches of approval or disapproval that Labour whips call him “the Sphinx”. With the Lib Dems struggling in the polls, there’s more life in the 4,500- year-old stone statue in Giza.

Another snout reports that a wallet containing £750 was stolen in the Houses of Parliament. I’m all ears, should the MP or peer be so kind as to explain why they were carrying so much cash. Won it on the geegees, did we, sir or madam?

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 21 January 2013 issue of the New Statesman, The A-Z of Israel