Druggie Dave's first choice for spinner

Druggie Dave's appointment of the shamed Screws of the World editorix Andy Coulson as his £275,000 Ali Campbell triggered guffaws in Westminster. Hacks couldn't recall a single political view voiced by the new spinmeister, now busy boning up on his Tory party. Andy C would be wise to study hard - mischievous scribblers intend to tease him by posing tricky questions, such as which seat does "Boy George" Osborne represent (Tatton) or who is shadow town hall minister (Robert Syms). My Tory mole whispers that Andy wasn't first choice. Cameron's puppeteer Steve Hilton courted Guto Harri, but the silver-tongued BBC politico prefers titillating housewives on The Six O'Clock News to selling the toff to telly types.

Minutes of Sedgefield CLP suggest that Big Gordie's ousting of their local hero isn't going down well in Blair's backyard. Particularly miffed is John Burton, agent of the outgoing premier. "John said the recent Budget," recorded the secretary, "was appalling and he felt it would be bad for the party electorally." Word in County Durham is that Burton won't get a peerage. Something to do with a messy planning row.

Invited into Downing Street for Sunday lunch was Tessa Jowell, culture vulture. She dined not with her best friends, the Blairs, but with her new best friends, the Browns. The most famous client of Mortgage Express sees herself as a bridge between the two families. We'll learn in the reshuffle whether lunch was a warm embrace or the equivalent of the Last Supper. But the home-loan queen isn't alone among Blairites hoping to survive as Brownies. Portly Charlie "Judge Dredd" Falconer fancies his chances, though Brown's campaign acolyte Geoff Hoon fancies Judge Dredd's job.

To Labour's Newcastle hustings, where unsisterly wannabe wearers of the deputy's tiara, Blears & Harman, were dismayed to be dumped next to each other when both were wearing bright red jackets. Blears joked that they looked like a couple of toy soldiers, the look on Harman's face indicating disagreement. As I feared, audiences have started tittering when Big Gordie starts his hoary old story about Nelson Mandela confusing Tonys Benn and Blair.

Word emerges how Big Gordie demanded that Mariella Frostrup (pictured) give him the feather-duster treatment at the Hay-on-Wye bookfest. Her presence was made a condition of his appearance, the telly totty more slavering Labrador than gnashing Rottweiler. Paxo and Humphrys, eat your hearts out. There's a safe new girl in town.

As told by my snouts . . . Pained Peter Hain: "Jon Cruddas has ruined my life." And upset Big Gordie on Nurse Pat-ronising Hewitt: "I have to sit here while she loses me the next election."

Kevin Maguire is 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 11 June 2007 issue of the New Statesman, Russia: The beggar becomes the belligerent