Support 100 years of independent journalism.

  1. Politics
  2. UK Politics
11 March 2020

Commons Confidential: Dodgy Dave’s huffy moment

Your weekly dose of gossip from around Westminster.

By Kevin Maguire

Labour deputy leadership hopeful Rosena Allin-Khan is a true lifesaver. Alerted by a troubled man who had threatened on Twitter to end it all, the Tooting good Samaritan quietly tracked him down and called him to give reassurance. Allin-Khan, a qualified doctor who away from Westminster continues to do shifts in her local hospital’s accident and emergency unit, commendably shunned the publicity. The grateful chap acknowledged her help. Allin-Khan’s selflessness is rare in politics, when many MPs would eagerly attend the opening of a milk carton then brag about it if they knew it would assure them a page in the local paper.

David Cameron’s trick to avoid speaking to folk who recognise him is pretending to speak on his mobile. The diversion didn’t work at a reception where a gay guy was introduced as one of the few people who wanted to thank him, in this case for same-sex marriage. Haunted by Brexit humiliation, huffy Cameron had a face like thunder and couldn’t mask displeasure at the quip. Dodgy Dave likes dishing it out, but hates taking it back.

Westminster whispers about the possible postponement of May’s local and mayoral elections if coronavirus is a full-blown epidemic are dividing Labour. London City Hall occupant and mayoral front-runner Sadiq Khan is desperate for a capital contest as planned to secure a second term; while Liam Byrne, running for mayor in the West Midlands, would welcome longer to winkle out the Tory incumbent Andy Street. All politics is local, as they say.  

The price of solidarity for trade union Aslef is £7,753.44 when Mick Whelan and his train drivers refuse to cross a UCU lecturers’ picket line. Aston University’s conference centre is refusing to refund the union’s deposit or let Aslef reschedule an equality and diversity course to non-strike days next month. Labour movement principles are expensive.

Many apologies but Grand National Day on 4 April may not be the end, after all, of Labour’s seemingly interminable steeple race. Should the result be a photo finish, a well-placed informant muttered, thousands of union members signed up in Scotland and tens of thousands of unreceived ballot papers could facilitate a legal challenge from losing supporters of either Keir Starmer or Rebecca Long-Bailey. Give me strength.

Select and enter your email address Quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics from the New Statesman's politics team. A weekly newsletter helping you fit together the pieces of the global economic slowdown. The New Statesman’s global affairs newsletter, every Monday and Friday. The best of the New Statesman, delivered to your inbox every weekday morning. The New Statesman’s weekly environment email on the politics, business and culture of the climate and nature crises - in your inbox every Thursday. Our weekly culture newsletter – from books and art to pop culture and memes – sent every Friday. A weekly round-up of some of the best articles featured in the most recent issue of the New Statesman, sent each Saturday. A newsletter showcasing the finest writing from the ideas section and the NS archive, covering political ideas, philosophy, criticism and intellectual history - sent every Wednesday. Sign up to receive information regarding NS events, subscription offers & product updates.
  • Administration / Office
  • Arts and Culture
  • Board Member
  • Business / Corporate Services
  • Client / Customer Services
  • Communications
  • Construction, Works, Engineering
  • Education, Curriculum and Teaching
  • Environment, Conservation and NRM
  • Facility / Grounds Management and Maintenance
  • Finance Management
  • Health - Medical and Nursing Management
  • HR, Training and Organisational Development
  • Information and Communications Technology
  • Information Services, Statistics, Records, Archives
  • Infrastructure Management - Transport, Utilities
  • Legal Officers and Practitioners
  • Librarians and Library Management
  • Management
  • Marketing
  • OH&S, Risk Management
  • Operations Management
  • Planning, Policy, Strategy
  • Printing, Design, Publishing, Web
  • Projects, Programs and Advisors
  • Property, Assets and Fleet Management
  • Public Relations and Media
  • Purchasing and Procurement
  • Quality Management
  • Science and Technical Research and Development
  • Security and Law Enforcement
  • Service Delivery
  • Sport and Recreation
  • Travel, Accommodation, Tourism
  • Wellbeing, Community / Social Services
I consent to New Statesman Media Group collecting my details provided via this form in accordance with the Privacy Policy

Donald Trump’s infamous Moscow “pee tape” might have a rival as a rumour spreads in Westminster of a noisy recording of Boris Johnson getting physical. The Prime Minister must hope it’s tittle-tattle. Any sympathy should be reserved for potentially dozens of worried partners.

This article appears in the 11 Mar 2020 issue of the New Statesman, How the world is closing down