Properly defined, a maverick is an unbranded animal, especially a motherless calf, usually to be found in a herd of cattle on the American prairie. At Westminster, it is an MP who chafes at the discipline of party whips and government control. A sucker for jokes, television presenter turned politician Austin Mitchell would probably say it’s a man who kicks against the pricks.
There are many humorous digs in his warts-and-all autobiography, delivered after almost four decades as the Honourable Member for Grimsby. Most are funny, others not quite so. He has a keen satirical eye. So, nail-biting Gordon Brown is “a polite Dalek”. Domineering and socially prejudiced Margaret Thatcher was “an oil-fuelled Boudicca”.