I was at the Labour Party Gala Dinner last night - another emotional (for the audience) farewell speech from Blair, and much lobbying of the MPs present by Hain and Blears and their respective campaign managers Phil Woolas and Caroline Flint - I didn't spot any of the other Deputy Leadership candidates.
Blair told a good anecdote about Christine Shawcroft at the NEC saying she was surprised by how much her GC had wanted to talk about his achievements and they had "almost passed a vote of thanks".
I hope Peter Hain didn't think I was being patronising when I congratulated him on getting nominated ...
Charles Clarke told me he isn't nominating anyone, but was affronted by my suggestion this put him in the same camp as John Spellar - "I'm not in the same camp as John Spellar on anything".
One MP actually filled in their nomination paper in front of me (for Blears, of course) - disappointingly the actual nomination form is a rather drab sheet of A4 - I guess I had a mental image of it being a hand-engraved vellum scroll.
The gossip was:
- Benn going absolutely nowhere and no one in the PLP seems to be feeling particularly sorry for him
- Cruddas not making any traction amongst MPs and seen as presumptuous for running as a relatively new backbencher by longer-serving MPs - probably will get nominated but only just
- Harman getting a huge push by the core Brownites
- Johnson going backwards - PLP support has dropped off in the last few weeks - and attempting to portray himself as unity candidate between Blears and Harman