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Commons Confidential: Why House of Commons staff want Zac back

Staff mean no offence to Sarah Olney, but they’d like Zac Goldsmith back as MP for Richmond Park. Here's why. 

By Kevin Maguire

That tireless tricoteuse, Fiona Hill, is the Madame Thérèse Defarge of Theresa May’s Tory revolution. The leader’s key adviser strikes fear in party circles, with tumbrils summoned in recent weeks for the guillotined spinners Katie Perrior (after Hill suggested an audit of her work) and Lizzie Loudon.

 

On the campaign trail, Fiona Hill’s duties extend to advising the Prime Minister on her style. The kitten-heeled May’s pink “I can deal with anything if I have the right pair of shoes” cushion is a statement of the fashionista Tory’s interest in couture. Yet my No 10 snout whispers that Hill explodes in Krakatoan rage whenever she is described as May’s dresser. Keeping up appearances is a touchy subject.

 

Jeremy Corbyn’s team congratulates itself on smartening up a once-unkempt leader, and his wife, Laura Alvarez, is seen touchingly brushing his suit lapels and shoulders before TV interviews. Reporters hang on May’s every word but not on Corbyn’s. A TV hack recalled sitting in front of him on a train. So banal was the conversation behind him (a critique of Haringey’s committee system while Corbyn was a councillor) that the journalist made his excuses and moved. Even professional eavesdroppers have their limits.

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May admits that she prays to God, and Tim Farron was overheard on a train wishing a voter, “God bless!” Hounded by the row over over whether or not he believed homosexuality was a sin, Farron hasn’t a prayer of reaching No 10. His aides mutter that they could do with divine intervention after a bumpy start.

 

What of Ed Balls, who opted not to stand again? Two days before polling day, he’ll be the star at the British Hospitality Association’s trade summit. Strictly speaking, there’s a free drink in it.

 

Ed Jones, the special adviser to the Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, is adopting a gentlemanly approach to the political situation. As the skipper of a Lords and Commons cricket team, Jones emailed MPs about playing against the Honourable Artillery Company on 21 May. Perhaps Hunt should inform him there’s an election on.

 

Should Fiona Hill discover the identity of a gangly young payroll politico who catches a train into London from Sevenoaks in Kent, she might use his guts for garters, after a snout overheard him boasting, “I tell Theresa May what to say.” Please say if you know who he is.

 

Commons staff mean no offence to Sarah Olney, but they’d like Zac Goldsmith back as MP for Richmond Park – he is standing again in the seat he lost to the Lib Dems in a December by-election. They bemoan the loss of his Fortnum & Mason Christmas hampers.

 

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

This article appears in the 03 May 2017 issue of the New Statesman, The Russian Revolution