Commons Confidential: Why Vince Cable snapped

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Rueful Kate Osamor issued a candid mea culpa at the Media Democracy Festival for throwing water at Times reporter Will Humphries and threatening to hit him with a baseball bat. “I am so deeply sorry… it was totally wrong of me… I have apologised to Will,” confessed the Labour MP for Edmonton, who resigned as shadow international development secretary last December after reacting furiously to questions over her adviser son’s drugs conviction. Osamor hailed “our free press” as “one of the best protections our country has against injustice, unfairness, corruption and bad government” but complained of double standards.

“Just for a second,” Osamor went on, “remember all the political pundits who held my colleague Jess Phillips up as a hero because she falsely claimed to have told Diane Abbott to ‘fuck off’? And indeed boasted about doing so in subsequent media interviews, and said she didn’t know why more people didn’t say that to Diane more often. And now ask yourself how those same pundits would have reacted if Diane had done the same thing, let alone made the whole thing up.” Phillips did boast that she swore at Abbott: the confusion might be Abbott not hearing; but a fair point when the shadow home secretary is parliament’s most abused politician, targeted daily by racists and misogynists?

Small world, the Westminster village. I discovered that East Yorkshire Tory MP Sir Greg Knight, while a solicitor in the 1970s, got the suspended Labour MP Chris Williamson off a breach of the peace charge for protesting against Leicestershire fox hunters. Like the vegan hunt saboteur, Knight previously represented Derby North. With Williamson fighting a potential anti-Semitism charge, he may require knighted Knight’s legal expertise again.

Lib Dem staff are launching a covert ABC campaign – Anyone But Charmless – with resignations predicted should the brusque Jo “charmless” Swinson replace Vince Cable. My snout claims the Karl Marx of Twickenham was driven to despair by his deputy. I’m told he secretly favours Oxford’s Layla Moran.

Seeing Stephen Pound hobbling on crutches, I enquired if the bust of Oliver Cromwell he’s accused of turning to the wall had fallen on Labour’s militant Catholic. The Ealing lip indeed blames religion. Labour’s shadow Northern Ireland frontbencher informed colleagues the joint was worn out by kneeling in church. Bending the knee’s never healthy.

Labour whips alerted MPs after a Volvo’s lights were left on in parliament’s underground car park. The reg plate began “TIG”. Lights on but nobody home? Chuka and chums…

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 appears in the 22 March 2019 issue of the New Statesman, State of emergency