Cheers for champagne socialism

Non-Red Ed outblaired Tony during the strike.

The dozen or so hardline Labour MPs who ignored the whips by refusing to cross picket lines outside parliament during the strike over pensions included a couple of parliamentary aides. Ian Lavery, a Northumbrian ex-miner arrested several times in the 1984-85 coal strike, carries Harriet Harman's bag. Grahame Morris, another lefty from north-east England, is PPS to the shadow Treasury chief secretary, Rachel Reeves. Labour-affiliated strikers in the Unite and GMB unions decreed that MPs could go into the Commons to shout abuse at David Cameron in PMQs. The unaffiliated PCS civil servants, however, declared its lines sacred. The whips wisely sidestepped a confrontation with Lavery and Morris.

Long gone are the days when a Labour leader would stand in solidarity on a picket line but Non-Red Ed outblaired Tony during the strike. While carers and dinner ladies lost a day's pay, Miliband slipped into St Ermin's Hotel in London to embrace squillionaire supporters at a champagne reception. The glitz-fest was organised by Andrew Rosenfeld, the returned tax exile who is Mili's new best friend after Cameron rejected the tycoon's overtures because the Tories had enough rich pals.

I gather that a sum close to £3,000 was shelled out by one of Cameron's landed gentry to avoid a potentially embarrassing employment tribunal. Frederick Richard Penn Curzon, 7th Earl Howe and a junior health minister, settled with a tractor driver who was claiming unfair dismissal. Pity. The case would have made a good subplot on Midsomer Murders, which has filmed at Earl Howe's inherited 250-year-old Penn mansion.

The movers and shakers in the Progress cult are discussing who to back if Unsteady Eddie is toppled. The sect keeps a candle burning for David Milibrother, though young fanatics increasingly champion the cause of Rachel Reeves, who might as well change her name by deed poll to "Rising Star", so regularly does the description accompany her.

The motorgob Jeremy Clarkson was on loud form in the hours before he went on TV to advocate the execution of strikers. This column's source swears that he saw and heard Crapson enjoying a convivial lunch at the upmarket Wolseley restaurant in Piccadilly ahead of the One Show idiocy. I'm sure that the two events were unconnected.

The 60th birthday bash of portly Charlie Falconer, one-time lord chancellor and holder of the semi-constitutional position of Blair's First Flatmate, was a grand affair. Cherie attended, Tony sent a message and Alastair Campbell droned on the bagpipes. I hear that there were more Tories, including Ken Clarke, than left-wingers. Perhaps it's no surprise. It was, after all, a New Labour bash.

Gabby Bertin, Cameron's aide de social, acquired a new nickname when she swapped No 10 to strike-break in a Heathrow passport booth. Ms Jolly Hockey Sticks will roll her eyes when she discovers that they call her "Scabby Gabby".

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 December 2011 issue of the New Statesman, Unholy war