Vaz-eline's slippery ways

All the gossip from the Westminster Village

Spied exiting Druggie Dave's office was that political disaster, Tony Lit, the Rolls-Royce-driving playboy who crashed in last July's Ealing Southall by-election after Labour exposed him happily posing with Tony Blair a few months earlier. My informant whispered that David Cameron wishes to keep his accident-prone protégé sweet, toying with the idea of dressing him in ermine or parachuting the multimillionaire into a nice, safe seat unlikely to repeat the Ealing comedy. Lit stood, you may recall, for "David Cameron's Conservatives" instead of a Tory party which, intriguingly, has performed markedly better (Crewe, Henley) since its leader accepted his own name shouldn't always adorn the ballot paper.

Rustled pages in the Commons library after House authorities instructed staff to show greater deference to dishonourable members. Bookworms have been told to jump out of their seats and stand up straight when a MP approaches. My snout with the date stamp just back from his customer-care course also disclosed that a commissionaire - in a peaked cap, of course - may be posted to give the place a military bearing. The John Lewis Brigade's demand for greater respect in the Mock-Gothic Fun Palace is clearly in inverse proportion to the affection in which they are held by the great unwashed outside the precincts.

Mr Whippy Geoff Hoon's billet-doux to "Sir" Keith Vaz left the Supreme Leader spitting tacks and Cameron celebrating a bull's-eye. Druggie Dave took particular delight in humiliating slippery Vaz-eline, whispered a Tory snout, because a year ago it was Vaz, a then (as now) not-so-humble backbencher, who told Labour bruisers about that pic of the two Tonys. That's revenge as a dish best served straight from the freezer.

The king of Edinburgh, Alex Salmond (cruelly nicknamed "Shrek" by detractors on both sides of the border), has taken to signing official letters with a self-important "Yours of Scotland, Alex". A recipient noted that the First Minister also styles himself "Rt Hon" on the letterhead, nationalism failing to dampen enthusiasm for an honorific courtesy of British rule. A disloyal Labour MP (is there any other type?) suggested Salmond should add a smiley face squiggle if the Scottish Nationalists win Glasgow East.

Brrng, brrng. One of Cameron's chaps rings to reveal that Druggie Dave hired his Bullingdon Club tailcoat, so no garment hangs in the back of the wardrobe. Curious. When Labour tried to hire an outfit for a tofftastic stunt during that Ealing by-election, the Oxford purveyor of Edwardian clobber to Hooray Henrys smelled an apparatchik - because real gentlemen bought the full rig for a couple of grand. Mental note to self: check what George "Oik" Osborne did.

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 14 July 2008 issue of the New Statesman, ‘I’ll leave when I finish the job’