Commons Confidential: The Troubles return as police storm a Sinn Fein meeting

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Rozzers bursting into a Sinn Fein meeting in Westminster on the Good Friday Agreement illustrated the perils of panic buttons under desks. The party’s MPs Francie Molloy and Michelle Gildernew leapt to their feet as the coppers came through the door of the Grimond Room. Labour shadow Northern Ireland raconteur Stephen Pound, never one to let a kerfuffle interrupt a speech, bravely carried on. The police sheepishly retreated after a quick look around. It seems the knee of a Guardian hack chairing the gathering inadvertently pressed the hidden alarm used to summon uniformed muscle should demonstrators interrupt proceedings. Molloy, a grizzled product of the Troubles, remarked “I thought those days were over” as the cops barged in. Not in parliament.

Brighton newbie Lloyd Russell-Moyle is turning heads. On the green benches the even greener jeans of Labour’s Kemptown MP caught the eye of a Tory whip subsequently spied grassing him up to the Speaker for a serious violation of the staid dress code. Informed by one of his own that he wouldn’t be called to speak, the uprooted former chief oak of the Woodcraft Folk was overheard protesting that women were permitted to wear green tights and dresses, so why not him trousers? Be that as it may, a subsequent debate he initiated on sheep worrying confused the Labour flock. Deputy chief whip Alan Campbell wondered aloud if waving a jar of mint sauce in front of a ewe qualified alongside dogs running wild. The answer was no.

Terrible things seen can never be forgotten, including Brextremist bore Peter Bone parading in tight-fitting Lycra since replacing Mrs Bone with a younger model. A female MP, traumatised since bumping into the bulging Wellingborough Tory – Bone having stretched the elastic fibre close to breaking point – was unimpressed by his majority. Perhaps a modest dress code is required outside the chamber rather than in.

Labour election spinner Steve Howell’s account of the 2017 contest, Game Changer, reveals that a nurse killed in the London Bridge terrorist attack last June had cared for Karie Murphy after Jeremy Corbyn’s chief of staff donated a kidney in London’s Guy’s Hospital to save a stranger. Australian Kirsty Boden was stabbed to death as she tried to help someone run over by the attackers’ van. I can think of few political players who’d have kept that secret at the time.

Since last week’s nugget on how Commons staff and bosses were demanding that Nadine Dorries apologised for insulting the grub, I hear the novelist MP has eaten her own criticism with a formal mea culpa. She might even get a cookery book out of it: Dorries’s Ding-Dong Dinners

Kevin Maguire is Associate Editor (Politics) on the Daily Mirror and author of our Commons Confidential column on the high politics and low life in Westminster. An award-winning journalist, he is in frequent demand on television and radio and co-authored a book on great parliamentary scandals. He was formerly Chief Reporter on the Guardian and Labour Correspondent on the Daily Telegraph.

This article appears in the 27 April 2018 issue of the New Statesman, The Corbyn ultimatum