Fun and games between Labour’s awkward squad and the Ukip One. Since his triumph in Clacton for the Purple Shirts, Tory turncoat Douglas Carswell has opted to sit in the Commons chamber on the front bench below the gangway populated by the socialist heckler tendency.
Predictably, the Ukip squatter’s presence isn’t embraced by the left-wing firebrands. My snout muttered that Scouse brickie Steve Rotheram had told Carswell, “Eff off out of my seat,” when the interloper occupied the Liverpool lad’s usual place. The fund speculator is square-jawed but, perhaps wisely, he shuffled across the bench. Touchingly, Carswell, an obsessive Europhobe, is behaving like the proverbial German tourist, rising before dawn to lay a towel on a pool sunlounger. He was seen arriving shortly after the doors open at 7am to bag a specific seat by slotting a prayer card into a brass holder. This tussle could get tasty. There’s talk in the Labour ranks of getting up before Carswell to nab all the slots and squeeze out the Herman Munster lookalike.
Carswell is hoping for a Ukip reinforcement in Mark Reckless, another Tory defector. That Rochester and Strood is a two-horse race between the official Conservatives of David Cameron’s fracturing party and the Tory provisional wing formed by Nigel Farage is causing angst in Labour ranks. The party threw in the red towel before a Kentish vote was cast. Labour won 28.5 per cent in 2010 and is going through the motions instead of plotting to squeeze ahead of the Cons and Kippers.
Labour activist Luke Akehurst, formerly of the party’s governing National Executive Committee, an ex-councillor and twice a parliamentary candidate, was summoned by Ed Miliband’s spin doctor Bob Roberts for a bollocking. His crime was calling publicly for Labour to try to win Rochester. The workers, disunited, will always finish third.
I bring you fresh evidence of a class divide in the Palace of Westminster. A sign taped to a wall outside the chamber betrays a touch of Downton Abbey. Staff below stairs – industrial Johnnies and Jennies preventing the old building from falling down – are warned to mind their Ps and Qs: “Please refrain from using loud, boisterous language.” Shouldn’t John Bercow, the Lord Grantham of parliament, stick the notice in the rowdy chamber?
Who was the male MP spied slipping into a private health clinic in London specialising in Botox injections? The hat pulled down over his eyes didn’t fool everybody.
And was that Euan Blair spotted in central lobby? Unfortunately, my informant didn’t hang around to see who Son of Tony met. Cue fresh speculation about a safe Labour seat.
Kevin Maguire is the associate editor (politics) of the Daily Mirror