New Times,
New Thinking.

16 January 2014updated 28 Jun 2021 4:46am

Commons Confidential: grin and Blair it

Ed Miliband’s secret list, the moneybags ex-PM Blair and the mysterious case of the absentee Tories.

By Kevin Maguire

I gather from a well-placed snout that there’s a secret list in Ed Miliband’s office. The document is a roll-call of up to 30 Labour MPs expected to surrender their seat before the next election. Some are former cabinet ministers who acknowledge they will never be handed another red box, others ageing backbenchers who fancy putting on their slippers. The great exit could be good news for a couple of Milibandites: the party apparatchiks Torsten Henricson-Bell and Greg Beales are rumoured to fancy a move on to the green benches. Miliband may find himself busy as the general election approaches, quietly promising peerages and handing out parachutes.

A Tory backbencher muttered that his retreating commander is hastily redrawing battle lines. Mixed polls and the rise of Ukip suggest we’re more likely to see David Cameron running a Fabergé egg-and-silver-spoon race in the Downing Street garden than leading the Tories to outright victory in May 2015. The 40:40 strategy, whereby the Tories selected 40 targets and 40 seats to defend, is, scowled my Tory informant, now 40:49. The nine constituencies joined to Cameron’s Maginot Line include Loughborough. Number 52 on Labour’s hit list, the Treasury junior bean-counter Nicky Morgan is considered vulnerable despite a majority of 3,744. She’s disappeared without trace inside George Osborne’s austerity machine.

Labour MPs were informed at a presentation that the result of the election will be decided by voters who watch not the news, but The X Factor. So Labour strategists must be salivating over the Tory MP Penny Mordaunt slipping into her swimming costume to make a Splash! on the box. A Labour wag proposed that the party seek political parity on the telly, demanding equal access to reality shows. It might be best to avoid Jack “Pikey” Dromey on Big Fat Gypsy Weddings or Denis MacShane on Benefits Street.

Not one, but three Tory MPs were absent when called by the Speaker, John Bercow, to put questions on the order paper to the Lib Dumb Deputy PM, Nick Clegg, and the Con Cabinet Office minister Greg Clark. Thrice went up the cry “Not here” when the names of Chris Kelly, Paul Uppal and Peter Aldous were called by the chair. The invisible threesome all have marginal seats. The Commons chamber will empty as the election looms and MPs fight hard for jobs. Their own jobs.

Nobody did better out of New Labour than Tony Blair, who’s worth up to £40m and is the owner of seven properties. How the moneybags ex-PM amassed such a fortune is ow attracting attention. The investigative Rottweiler Tom Bower is researching a book on Blair’s loot, as are the news hounds Francis Beckett and David Hencke. Kazakhstan should be interesting.

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

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