Who’s the Labour insider about to spill the beans?

Surely the Daily Mail wouldn't stoop to employ the 'scurrilous' Damian McBride

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The Independent Online

On Saturday, in one of the most intriguingly opaque teasers in newspaper history, the Daily Mail trailed the mysterious book serialisation to grace its pages in the coming days. “The insider who’s spilling Labour’s darkest secrets”, read the headline above such enticements as “Just wait until you read what they’ve got on Ed Miliband”; and – brace yourselves – “Stark naked, I rolled over and pulled Ed Balls on to me with a winsome ‘Come here’.”

Blimey. But who could the author of the “political memoir of the year” possibly be? Well, one name that can safely be ruled out is Damian McBride. It’s true that Damian’s book about his time with Gordon Brown is published tomorrow week by Iain Dale. Five years ago, Mr Dale wrote scathingly in the Mail on Sunday about the McBride-led cabal of Gordon trolls planning to smear political opponents. Yet while it pays tribute to his elasticity of mind that he is happy to profit from someone who once scandalised him deeply, it is inconceivable  that the Daily Mail would  abandon the moral high ground. Only in July, columnist Andrew Pierce spoke for the paper when  he wrote of how “with Labour trailing badly in the polls … Brown’s poisonous boot-boy, Damian McBride, devised a scurrilous plot to blacken the name of senior Tories.”

It is not the Mail’s way to pay for the thoughts of poisonous boot-boys who tried “to slur senior Tory MPs with lies about their private lives”. Apart from the hypocrisy, how could it believe what this allegedly pathological liar says about Ed Miliband? In this light, we confess bemusement over the author’s identity. But if it is the  ice-pixie Yvette Cooper, as that stomach-turning Ed Balls reference may suggest, please God that is the only account of marital relations in the opus. We had more than enough of the sub-Fifty Shades stuff, thanking you, from the Blairs.

Weathergirl Siân left out in the cold

Speaking of Mr Tony and Cherie, warmest congrats to them on the wedlock of Euan, their first-born, to Suzanne Ashman. The sadness is that the reception in the grounds of one of their 147 homes may be remembered less for the glittering guest list than a lone absentee. We may never know why weather forecaster Siân Lloyd, Suzanne’s stepmother, was disinvited at the 11th hour. Siân is reportedly “flabbergasted” at being told she was not welcome, and no wonder. Had it been Michael Fish in “Trust me, Blairs, there won’t be a drop of rain all day” mode, it would make sense.

The conspiracy merchants are having a field day, with early theories centring on Siân’s criticism of Mr Tony’s Syrian “warmongering” and her “fractious relationship” with Suzanne’s mother, the first Mrs Ashman. My own hunch is that someone had second thoughts, on taste grounds, about permitting a one-time lover of Lembit Opik to attend. It can hardly be a coincidence that no Cheeky Girl was on hand to provide the nuptial cabaret.

Clegg’s secure, Lembit’s not backing him

Not to be outdone by the attention lavished on his former fiancée, Lembit quells his abhorrence of cheap publicity to deliver an eve-of-conference attack on Nick Clegg, whom he asks to resign to save the Liberal Democrats from electoral oblivion. Others have advanced this argument since the tuition fees debacle. However, only when the genius soothsayer who backed both Mark Oaten and Chris Huhne for the leadership makes the case may we certain that Mr Clegg’s position is secure.

It’s a gloomy Monday without Mel

Apologies if this seems effete, but it is too soon to address the news that, after a dozen years dispensing wisdom to readers, Melanie Phillips is without her Monday column in the Daily Mail. What it was like waking today to a morning devoid of this bulwark against the collapse of  Western civilisation, I dare not even imagine. But if there is a run on Mad Mel umbrellas, as available for £12.80 a pop on her merchandising website, it will surely be because God and his archangels cannot stem the tears.

Time for some self-parody, Rachel

To boring-snoring Rachel Reeves, who tells The Guardian she feels humiliated by Newsnight editor Ian Katz’s misdirected tweet,  some helpful advice. Such an  analysis, if embraced rather than bemoaned, can be flipped to  advantage. People love a self- parodist in politics more even than in snooker. So for heaven’s sake, cease the self-indulgent whining, locate that inner Steve Davis, and reinvent yourself as Rachel “Electrifying” Reeves.