Who's for a Gordon's?

All the gossip from the Westminster Village

Gordon is resigning, quitting Downing Street this autumn. Before Charlie Clarke and John McDonnell combust with excitement, or Druggie Dave and Nick Clegg reach for the tranquillisers, it's Fiona Gordon, not Gordon Brown. The Supreme Leader's political hitwoman is off, departing to "do other things", insisted my snout. The official line is she never intended to stay much longer than a year as director of political relations, knackered and wanting a break after toiling as Tony Blair's eyes and ears within the PLP. Others mutter that she feels marooned in marketing man Stephen Carter's tank-top regime, being no fan of flipcharts. Gordon, partner of the government whip and Crewe by-election maestro Steve McCabe, can console herself with the knowledge that she, unlike her predecessor Ruth Turner, leaves without a police inquiry hanging over her head.

A professed love of football is the next new Labour trick to be copied by the Tories. Action Man David Davis's drink with hacks this month clashes with Man United v Chelsea in the Champions League final. Moscow is unwilling to shift the game, so DD, hitherto displaying no interest in footie, is seeking a big screen. If there's trouble on the Westminster terraces, the former SAS reservist is well capable of sorting it himself.

That Labour leadership tearoom gossip in full: Charles Clarke and Alan Milburn fancy their chances if both Gordons go. Stephen Byers wants David Miliband. Union leaders would ditch Jon Cruddas and back Alan Johnson. But out of loyalty to his boss, Ed Balls would not throw his hat into the ring.

Labour's strategy in the Crewe and Nantwich by-election is to shout "Dunwoody, Dunwoody, Dunwoody" now that daughter Tamsin hopes to step into mum Gwyneth's shoes. The Tory runner, Edward Timpson, wears his own shoes, of course, as a well-shod scion of the high-street chain. He points out that the Labour "local" lives 180 miles away in Pembrokeshire, so it should be a lively scrap. The Moyra Tamsin Dunwoody-Kneafsey who stood for the Welsh Assembly is now Crewe-friendly Tamsin Dunwoody, Moyra and hyphen-Kneafsey ditched somewhere along the way. My hard-bitten snout mumbled the nomination was clinched when she wept during a tribute to her then still unburied mother. The tears, he added, gave an eerie prescience to Mother Dunwoody's observation in February 2004: "As a child, she learned how to cry prettily, which I've always thought is a useful skill but have never acquired."

The unlikely snippets you pick up in bars! Sober Jim Murphy was once diagnosed with scurvy. The Europe minister suffered a Vitamin C deficiency in his student days because, giggled my informant, five-a-day counted trips to the pub, not consumption of fruit and veg.

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 12 May 2008 issue of the New Statesman, 1968 The year that changed everything