The whispers

Diplomatic deafness in Brum plus all the rest of the gossip from the Westminster Village

Druggie Dave's next cuddly Con stunt defies parody: "During Spring Forum we will be constructing a shelter and outdoor run for a new herd of rare-breed Bagot goats at Bill Quay Community Farm in Gateshead." Those goats Digby "Comrade Moans" Jones and Alan "Simple Sailor" West have caused no end of trouble for Uncle Gordie, but Cameron is gambling the animal version of the species offers risk-free photocalls. It's enough to make that big bad Tory wolf - Norman "Bit Yer, Gove" Tebbit - get on his bike and head north to savage the do-gooders.

To Birmingham . . . and to Labour's spring gripe, where your correspondent compered a Q&A bout with the Supreme Leader. Lurking in the wings to go on stage, I'd have sworn a party apparatchik mumbled that loyalists hoping to ask what the Prime Minister will do for a grateful nation would be waving pieces of white paper, red plastic bags and - very new Labour, this - copies of the Financial Times. Diplomatic deafness plus bad eyesight in a hall with dim lighting rendered the advice superfluous.

Similarly superfluous is Labour's request for feedback on its trip to Brum. "Once again, thank you for joining us for this fantastic weekend in Birmingham" sounds like the party has prejudged its event.

Retaliation from MPs over exposure of their expenses scams (sorry, meagre yet nobly transparent parliamentary allowances) with a counter-attack against their tormentors. A barrage of questions, asking how much rent papers pay to squat in the Press Gallery, what's the bar subsidy, etc, etc, has been tabled. Most troubling to a dirty dozen journalistic "clubmen" is the threat to withdraw prized free passes to the Mock Gothic Fun Palace's underground car park. Political editors didn't join the lobby, wailed a colleague, to use public transport.

Council Rachman Caroline Flint has travelled a long way, whispers a snout, since her rebel days as a lefty at the University of East Anglia. Back in the sepia 1980s, before the housing minister swapped dungarees for power suits and reactionary rhetoric, Heart of Flint denounced the Beast of Bolsover, Dennis Skinner, as a right-winger. By the way, she continues to insist, somewhat disingenuously, that her threat to evict jobless council tenants deemed not to be seeking work was misunderstood. Presumably misunderstood by the Guardian and the Sun, Heart of Flint spinning the same tale to both rags.

It had to happen. Emails in green type have started popping up in the parliamentary inbox of the Merthyr mauler Dai Havard. The Labour bruiser responds with direct action, pressing the delete key before reading the rambling messages.

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 10 March 2008 issue of the New Statesman, How Hillary did it