Commons Confidential: Dave’s secret barnet formula

Cameron is paranoid his spreading bald spot will be photographed from above.

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Claire Perry yearned for a red box but the rail minister hit the buffers as an MP. My eye was drawn to a curious exchange between the statuesque controller and Labour’s Kevin Brennan. A few days before her appointment, Perry wrote to her now predecessor, Stephen Hammond, to demand that electrification of the railways must not mean that London trains would no longer stop at Bedwyn and Pewsey stations in her Devizes backyard. Brennan asked cheekily if Perry received a reply from herself. The derailed minister cited “ministerial propriety” before explaining she could no longer campaign publicly to make line upgrades conditional on her two stations’ inclusion.

Selsdon Man is making a comeback. The Selsdon Park Hotel, made politically infamous by hosting Ted Heath’s turbo capitalists, is to host fundraising dinners for the Croydon Central Tory MP, Gavin Barwell, and the Thatcherite multimillionaire, Chris Philp, who hopes to inherit Croydon South from the retiring Richard Ottaway. The pair have established a £400-membership-fee Croydon Business Club. On the menu at the inaugural, invitation-only bash in the hotel, the Selsdon Men will serve up the developer behind the new £1bn Westfield shopping centre in the south London borough.

There’s more than one way to get through Downing Street’s black door. Cameron’s little helper Oliver Dowden, overlooked when Croydon South preferred moneybags Philp, resigned as deputy chief of staff following his selection as the Tory candidate in equally safe Hertsmere. These days, Dowden is in and out of the place working for Conservative campaign headquarters. New wage slip, same old politics.

David Cameron’s ego took a knock when a receptionist turned him away unrecognised from a Toni & Guy salon in Aylesbury, half a dozen miles from Chequers, after Sam Cam sent him to get their son’s hair cut. I hear from his No 10 minders that Cameron is paranoid his spreading bald spot will be photographed from above. The barnet formula obsessing No 10 is the industrial quantities of men’s hair products required to maintain an elaborate cover-up. The PM’s £90 celebrity crimper, Lino Carbosiero, was controversially awarded an MBE. The most recent previous Old Etonian premier, Alec Douglas-Home, was also the last baldie. It’s a school tradition that Combover Cameron’s unable to brush off.

Pre-election resentment in the Labour ranks. One of the party’s deadpan MPs insisted to your correspondent that Miliband’s office is known as the Parachute Regiment. Why? “They all want to be dropped into safe seats.” 

Kevin Maguire is the 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 appears in the 06 November 2014 issue of the New Statesman, Running out of Time

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