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7 April 2017

Kevin Maguire’s Commons Confidential: Arise, Lord Lansman?

The best of the week's gossip from around Westminster. 

By Kevin Maguire

Momentum’s Jon Lansman publicly condemned Stephen Benn in 2014 for reviving the Stansgate hereditary peerage disowned by his father, Tony, so how intriguing to hear that the comrade fancies his own ermine robe. Selflessly to advance the cause of socialism, of course. The lifelong Labour lefty’s prospective ennoblement was discussed in Jeremy Corbyn’s office, I’m informed by a well-placed snout, and Lansman has sounded out close brethren. Baron Lansman of Shad Thames wouldn’t be the first enemy of the House of Cronies to succumb to an establishment embrace. My advice would be to buy a tin hat to wear with the scarlet cloak. Lansman would need it. Just ask Shami Chakrabarti.

Enthusiasm for Corbyn is waning in Momentum, and that could ultimately cost Lansman his £300 a day tax-free. Clive Lewis leadership websites, discovered after he quit the shadow cabinet to vote against Brexit, weren’t, as the Norwich South MP insisted, registered by him. The identity of the person responsible, it is whispered in Westminster circles, is a Momentum compatriot of the potential baron. The king is dead, long live the king!

Either the pushy Andrea Leadsom didn’t see eight people queuing to collect tickets for Prime Minister’s Questions, or the Environment Secretary was exercising a rarely used droit du seigneur. Most politicians wait behind hoi polloi rather than marching to the front. As a mother, this leading light in the Brexit elite was taking back control for herself.

After backslapping tales of terror-attack heroism comes news of unedifying incidents. One prominent SNP MP is said to have refused a police officer’s request to leave the tearoom until he’d finished his cuppa. Tories mutter that a notorious “don’t-you-know-who-I-am?” minister refused to show his pass to a copper the following day. Westminster life returned to normal with obscene haste.

Hoppy sense of humour, Claire Perry. The statuesque Wilts Tory, who infamously wondered if she had to give the Speaker “a blow job” to get called in the chamber, was found pulling pints in Strangers’ Bar to promote a local brew. “Have I given it too much head?” she enquired, in the best Carry On Up the Commons tradition. The rotund Yorkshire Tory Alec Shelbrooke could be heard shouting that the diminutive John Bercow would need to show ID to be served.

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There’s no great surprise that Corbyn’s close ally Diane Abbott is mercifully avoiding a recurrence of the migraine that forced her to miss a key Brexit vote. The leader’s office initially contemplated diagnosing flu to explain her absence, but then realised that might cause them a headache, and so opted for the more serious throbbing brain.

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

This article appears in the 05 Apr 2017 issue of the New Statesman, Spring Double Issue