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18 December 2008

An excess of yo-ho-hoing

All the gossip from the Westminster Village

By Kevin Maguire

The great guessing game over the date of the election has overlooked a regular gathering in No 10 on Wednesday afternoons. Chaired by Gordon Brown‘s mini-me, Ed Balls, the eclectic collective includes Miss Moneypenny Sue Nye, the spinner Damian McBride, the union money man Charlie Whelan, Colin Byrne (corporate link), the fixer Tom Watson and Labour’s generalissimo Ray Collins, plus an assortment of other influential figures. What could they be discussing?

Labour has suffered a couple of unlucky festive breaks. The Mansfield tipster Alan Meale will struggle over the holiday period to fill in a race card now his left arm is in a sling after falling down steps while, erm, feeding doves presumably of the non-peace variety. Also nursing a fractured bone – and hurt pride – is the armed forces minister, Bob Ainsworth. Corporal Bob, I hear, fell off a chair trying to change channels on a TV mounted ten feet up a wall in his Commons office. Let’s hope Ainsworth finds a gift-wrapped remote under the Christmas tree.

I watched Druggie Dave on the Tory front bench nudge baldie tyke William Hague to pour him a glass of water. Disturbing to see an Old Etonian treating a comprehensive boy as if he’s a fag. Almost as disturbing as Hague meekly serving his master.

The wimmin’s campaigner Claire Curtis-Thomas endured all too predictable abuse from Neanderthals going Nuts over her campaign to put lads’ mags on the top shelf. That the Amazonian Labour backbencher would still be able to see them is a burden she must shoulder. More intriguing is a colleague’s assertion that Crosby Claire is no wimmin’s lib bra-burner because she conceals a mini radio in her female clothing to listen to news and sport.

May be a tall story, but too good to check.

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An excess of yo-ho-hoing rendered Children’s Secretary Balls speechless for what may be the first time in his life. Gordon Brown’s big kid was required to play Santa for more than a hour in Westminster after the Cabinet Office heavyweight Watson failed to appear for his half of a jolly job-share. Tommy Two-Dinners, who possesses his own padding, cited official duties. My snout with the fake beard wondered if Watson was stuck in a chimney.

A diverting debate in the Unite executive about the start and finish of the working week. The union’s pocket diary is a normal Monday-to-Sunday job but bus drivers protested that their shifts begin Sunday and finish Saturday. Presumably the No 65 into town didn’t run when God got out of bed on a Monday to make the world then enjoy Sunday off.

The bruvvers and sisters struck a historic compromise, ordering 28,000 Sunday-Saturday copies on top of the regular edition. The 2009 big Unite debate: would a 50-week year be simpler?

Kevin Maguire is associate editor (politics) of the Daily Mirror

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