When Ali C made Labour’s tea

All the gossip from the Westminster Village

Irritation in No 10 over Alastair Campbell selflessly taking credit for the Supreme Leader's shinier image. The Talibrown swear that Ali C's influence is exaggerated and accuse the old spinner of - perish the thought - spinning himself. The chap does have a novel to sell, and a public flirtation with Irn Broon will enable him to charge top dollar when briefing big corporations. Most intriguing is a whisper that the twice resurrected Prince of Darkness, who still blames Ali C for his second (Hinduja) resignation, is in two minds about Ali C - who charged £47,000 for his services in the 2005 general election - making the tea in Labour's next campaign. With Gordie and Mandy enjoying a new Labour reunion, perhaps two's company and three's a crowd.

Druggie Dave was overheard outside a cafe near his Notting Hell home telling Samantha, "I'll have a custard tart." To be honest, I had Cameron down as an eclair person. Clearly he's not the man I thought he was. Keep those calls coming when you see him out and about.

Another tale from the tearoom: staff were hanging Christmas tinsel and decorations when in glided Gerald Kaufman, a one-time tabloid scribbler-turned-terribly grand Labour backbencher. "Oh my gawd," exclaimed the ageing dandy, "next they'll be holding gay weddings in here." Cue the door opening and in comes swaggering Jack "the Lad" Straw, dressed, for this was Queen's Speech day, in tights and magnificent ceremonial robe. "And we know," muttered Kaufman, "who will be presiding at the ceremonies." The Lord Chancellor is deaf in one ear but mercifully this column's radar-eared snout is not.

In a hole, Nick Clegg, one-man JCB, keeps on digging. The Lib Dem loudmouth begged brooding Chris Huhne not to believe a Sunday Mirror eavesdropper on an aeroplane insisting le Clegg had accused his leadership rival of lacking "emotional intelligence". Word is that Calamity Clegg explained he was referring to Paul Burstow, the party's hitherto blameless chief whip. As excuses go, that verges on the suicidal.

The brush with the law by the Tory Dreyfus, Damian Green, sparked reminiscing about the Tory frontbencher's days as an honest hack. When he was Channel 4's biz news editor, Dreyfus boasted, he lived by two rules: he never assumed a hefty woman was pregnant and, if asked for a bright idea, never gave his own, so as to avoid rejection. The Ashford One could add a third: never get caught.

Maggie's End is delayed a month until April next year and switched to the Shaw Theatre in London. The row over her death will be worth waiting for.

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 15 December 2008 issue of the New Statesman, The power of speech