Miliboy in Geordieland

Old Labour values live on in a Tyneside working man's club

To Tyneside, where belated word reaches my ears of a collision between new and old Labour. The South Shields MP, David Miliband, who moonlights as the Foreign boy, visited a working men's club where equality means buying a round when it's your turn. As his concert violinist wife, Louise Shackelton, tailed Miliboy into a bar, a steward uttered the non-Primrose Hill command: "Hold fast, bonnie lass, ya canna gan in there." An incident was averted, my snout recorded, by the adoption of standard Foreign Office advice: when in Geordieland, do as the Geordies do.

Uncle Gordie risks another charge of turning his back on Scotland and going native in Ingerland. The premier, I hear, confided to a footie fan over a glass of warm white wine at a No 10 reception how he favours Celtic and Rangers playing in the Premiership. They'll be spluttering in their pints of heavy.

To the Tory spring backslapper in Gateshead and a warm if insincere handshake from Druggie Dave. The complex was empty, even fewer people milling around than at Labour's ghostly Brum version a fortnight earlier. And if security gauges proximity to power, the opinion polls are wrong. There were no scanners, and the bag checks were perfunctory. Winner of the Tebbit Award for Brusqueness was a large oaf who bit off the head of a nice lady distributing "save the elephant" leaflets. The un-Cameron-like chap declared that Tories cared about their mums, not tusked animals. But wasn't Maggie, mother of the party, known as the Great She-Elephant?

Another collision between new and old Labour sees Blair's spinner-turned-PR spiv Tim Allan pocketing Porsche's cash to puncture Citizen Ken's wheeze to slap a £25 daily charge on dirty motors. The London mayor's mob pray that Porsche extends its campaign to Uncle Gordie's showroom tax, thus pitting Allan against a Labour government he once worked for. Call me cynical, but I suspect that when required to choose between loyalty and retainers, a monthly £20,000 (the going über-spinners' rate, I'm told) wins every time.

To Stanley and Durham North Labour Party's annual dinner, which the local MP, Kevan Jones, organised at his local golf club - another sign of upward mobility in the People's Party. Previous speakers have included Stephen Byers, Mo Mowlam and Clare Short. All fell victim to the "North Durham curse", losing their jobs soon after. The good folk cheered, however, when your correspondent suggested it would be different this year because they had a Labour speaker.

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 24 March 2008 issue of the New Statesman, The truth about Tibet