Commons Confidential: No taxi for Andy McDonald

Your weekly dose of gossip from around Westminster. 

NS

Sign Up

Get the New Statesman's Morning Call email.

Invisible Chancellor Sajid Javid is growing frustrated at appearing in public as regularly as Lord Lucan. Cynical liar Boris Johnson’s guarantee that he’ll remain at the Treasury if the Tories win is as redeemable as the Prime Minister’s sweet nothings to scorned Jennifer Arcuri. Javid increasingly frets, I hear, that Downing Street vetoing a head-to-head TV debate with John McDonnell is a vote of no confidence. The Tory leader’s control of his Chancellor is a parallel universe to Labour, where the shadow chancellor controls the leader.

No election sweat for Con viveur David Davis. The one-time Brexit secretary was the sole candidate at the London launch of economist Liam Halligan’s book on housing. Maybe it’s an impregnable 15,000 Haltemprice and Howden majority that allowed Davis a 400-mile round trip. The self-servative displays none of the solidarity of his communist grandfather. Otherwise he’d have spent the day in a marginal seat rather than sipping wine.

Ed Balls would be forgiven a wry smile at Prince Andrew’s defenestration. The Labour hoofer experienced the dishonourable royal’s mistaken belief in his omnipotence when children’s secretary. After the pair appeared at a conference, Balls was asked to exit by the back door to let Prince Andrew be photographed at the front. These days the paedophile’s friend needs a blanket over his head when he leaves Buckingham Palace.

Gordon Brown this week recalled an encounter with Silvio Berlusconi – someone else who has been accused of sexploiting teenage girls. Italy’s then PM suggested he possessed an answer to the 2008 financial crisis when denouncing heads of other nations as “amateurs”, until the mask slipped and it was cosmetic. “Don’t they realise,” screamed the Italian, “we’ve got a press call in a few minutes and none of the leaders has brought a make-up artist.”

Corbyn’s social media guru Jack Bond’s old man is a London black cab driver. Bond père offered to take Andy McDonald, the shadow transport secretary, gratis in the back of his cab from Westminster to the transport department to meet civil servants. Walking and cycling are priorities alongside rail renationalisation. Tempted McDonald rejected the hackney carriage. Shanks’s pony is footsore Labour’s way.

There are fears of low turnout in Glasgow, where football fans are likely to watch Rangers at home or Celtic away in the Europa League on 12 December. The SNP is particularly worried as it is defending two Glasgow seats, South West and East, with majorities of fewer than 100 each. No extra time will be needed in polling booths.

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 20 November 2019 issue of the New Statesman, They think it’s all over