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Commons confidential: Laying it on fairweather Vaz

Zac Goldsmith's failure, Corbynistas assemble, and Vaz chasing the Foxes.

By Kevin Maguire

Zac Goldsmith is discovering the hard way that success has many parents but failure is an orphan. As various Tories jostle to distance themselves from a dirty mayoral campaign waged against Labour’s Sadiq Khan, a chum of Goldsmith’s tells me the ecowarrior is badly bruised and privately regrets subcontracting his crusade to Lynton Crosby’s CTF Comms poison squad. Irony endured a swift blow when the Lizard of Oz was knighted for political service the same day his client lost with dishonour.

The Zac campaign director, Mark Fullbrook, basks under a dubious cachet (“the UK’s Lee Atwater”) bestowed by the US teapot Newt Gingrich. Conversion to Catholicism and the Grim Reaper’s fast approach led Atwater, an adviser to Ronald Reagan, to recant for cruel and racist strategies. Goldsmith will seek redemption later this year by triggering a by-election in Richmond Park if David Cameron approves Heathrow’s third runway.

Corbynistas assembling outside the trendy Brigade bar in London Bridge to toast Khan’s victory recoiled at my suggestion that they might be dubbed a “Red Brigade”.

“Let’s settle on International Brigade,” said one staffer. Appropriate – if risky, should Labour divisions mirror splits on the Republican side in the Spanish Civil War. It wouldn’t be too much of a stretch to imagine Jeremy Corbyn with the anarchist POUM militia and John McDonnell as a Moscow-backed rival . . .

Keith Vaz, the MP for Self-Promotion Central, endured the taunts of Labour comrades after being caught parading around in a Leicester City scarf. Perhaps it’s to his great credit that he previously concealed his devotion to the Foxes?

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One colleague labelled Vaz a “Tony Blair plastic fan”, in a reference to apocryphal reports in which Blair boasted about watching Newcastle United. Another claimed Vaz’s scarf was shop-fresh, and accused him of having left the price tag on. My favourite was from the MP who sniggered it was unfair, really, that Leicester’s suave manager, Claudio Ranieri, had stolen Vaz’s limelight.

Small world. France’s Socialist PM, Manuel Valls, was the first international leader to congratulate Sadiq Khan. Valls sent greetings after seeing Denis MacShane herald the election win as a breakthrough for Western Muslims during an interview on the Gallic version of Sky News. Valls was on a train while watching MacShane. In much of Britain, he would struggle for a phone signal.

No need to ham it up for Labour’s Yvonne Fovargue in Makerfield. Visiting a flooded house, the MP spied a large dog basket, occupied by a strange, hairless breed which, on closer inspection, turned out to be a huge pig. The struggle to save Labour’s bacon takes many forms.

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

This article appears in the 11 May 2016 issue of the New Statesman, The anti-Trump