Commons Confidential: David Miliband’s Major alliance

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Labour theoretician John McDonnell is to be honoured for spearheading the surprise rebirth of British Marxism. On the eve of Theresa May’s keynote speech to next month’s Conservative conference in Birmingham (unless she’s toppled first, obvs), the shadow chancellor will in London be elected vice president of the Marx Memorial Library before delivering a lecture on economic policy. Comrade McDonnell cited Marx, Lenin and Trotsky as significant intellectual influences in 2006, then more recently asked a businessman if he was “looking forward to having a Marxist in No 11”. Weekly discussions Red John convened on Das Kapital as a TUC apparatchik continue to shape his dialectic. Harold Wilson would recognise that Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party owes more to Marxism than Methodism.

Lib Dem HQ sticking wobbly Vince Cable under a “Demand Better” slogan at the party’s Brighton conference is either a plot or daft. Also nobbled is touted successor Layla Moran, the Oxford newbie MP and daughter of a Jerusalem-born Palestinian mother. The education spokeswoman has been slotted into a no-news Saturday lunchtime spot where activists grumble she’ll be the warm-up for dull Tom Brake later in the day. It’s like asking Beyoncé to support Chris de Burgh.

The stuffed shirts running parliament decided, I’m informed, to name a police mess, rather than a public room or major entrance, after PC Keith Palmer, murdered in 2017 protecting democracy from a terrorist. Leamington Spa MP Matt Western’s motion proposing the Carriage Gates become the Palmer Gates attracted 133 signatures. My angry snout blames establishment snobbery for the snub.

South Shields is the only constituency never to elect a Tory MP since the 1832 Great Reform Act, so tongues are wagging after David Miliband invited John Major to address the town at the end of September. Previous luminaries at an annual lecture created by the Milibrother before he quit the seat for New York were broadly on the left, including Ken Livingstone, Neil Kinnock, Jo Brand, Danny Boyle and even Tony Blair and Peter Mandelson. New centrist party anyone?

TV hacks asking to film a prized interview with jammy Jeremy Corbyn as he picks damsons are informed that his local allotment society in north London doesn’t want them trampling all over its gardens. Do the refusals identify green-fingered Jezza as respectful or weedy?

The World Transformed leftfest running alongside Labour’s Liverpool shindig is learning from political parties how to make a few bob. Hacks accrediting late will be charged a £10 penalty.

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

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 first appeared in the 31 August 2018 issue of the New Statesman, How politics turned toxic