Pandora

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The Independent Culture
SHIPYARD WORKER, left-wing militant, media mogul and now Minister for Business and Industry at the Scottish Office, Gus Macdonald has been called in to shore up Labour's business-friendly activities. The announcement comes just a day after Pandora pointed out the fund-raising potential at the DTI of Peter Mandelson and Brian Wilson (who Macdonald is replacing at the Scottish Office).

Macdonald's appointment is likely to be followed by at least two more posts created to establish links with business; what is not yet clear is whether they will be government or Labour Party focused. Meanwhile, Macdonald is rumoured to be in line for a peerage. If so expect to see Ian Robertson, chief executive of Scottish Power; Martin Taylor, chief executive of Barclays Bank; and John Rose, chief executive of Rolls Royce (and good friend of Jonathan Powell, Blair's Chief of Staff) reap similar reward for their "friendliness to Labour".

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DONALD TRUMP is making plans to hold the 1999 Miss Universe competition in the city of Eilat, in Israel. A letter written by Eilat's mayor, Gabi Kadosh, shows that the port town has offered $3m plus expenses to hold the prestigious event, outpacing all other bids according to the New York Post. Trump's aides claim that the project has Benjamin Netanyahu's support, and that discussions are underway to invite King Hussain of Jordan. The event, however, would surely not be complete without Eurovision transvestite superstar, Dana International. David Schneeweiss, Press Secretary of the Israeli Embassy in London agreed; "Clearly Dana is a draw card, and she would add that extra bit of glamour to the occasion." Draw card? Shouldn't that be drag queen?

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HAS CRITICISM from the "Cool Britannia" inside circle stung Tony Blair into finding a new group of friends? The Prime Minister's teddy bear Lynton (pictured), made for him by an admiring Ealing resident, is to sit alongside those of famous "luvvies" Richard Briers, Derek Nimmo and Bonnie Langford in the Teddy Bear Museum, in Stratford-upon-Avon. Pandora wonders whether this is the opening overture in an exciting new media campaign - "Forgotten Britannia". The question is where this leaves Lord Archer, whose teddy bear is to sit alongside the Prime Minister's? Looking at the London mayoral hopeful's current chances, he may be grateful for being even that close to the centre of power.

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NOT EVERYONE in Harry Redknapp's family would necessarily agree with the colourful football manager's view that footballers' wives should "concentrate on looking after the kids and the house". Certainly, new daughter-in-law, the singer Louise would probably beg to differ from the West Ham manager's outspoken position. Surely she will let Jamie Redknapp wear the shorts while she wears the trousers? Some indication of what her views might be came from Janet Dunleavy, press officer at Louise's record company EMI; "She wouldn't want what she said to be misinterpreted and start a family row."

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MEDIA COMMENTATORS may well be sceptical about Liberal Democrat MPs getting into government (see yesterday's Comment column by Steve Richards), but at least one is keeping his hopes up. Don Foster, the Lib Dem's education spokesman, told colleagues at an end-of-term party last week that; "I've made sure Number 10 knows my pager number. My old mate Stephen Byers has just been promoted. You never know the call might come."

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DOES PETER Mandelson's backing for a pounds 2.3m boulder park in Hartlepool indicate a new departure for Labour Party thinking? The Summerhill project has delighted climbing traditionalists because it shuns some features that would otherwise make the climbs too easy. It is nice to see Mandy endorsing something that lets people make their own choice about their own safety, somewhat different to the Government's treatment of eating beef or smoking. The ever-helpful Benjamin Wegg-Prosser, Mandy's aide, was reluctant to make the connection between the more liberal approach to climbing versus the nannying approach. He could only proffer, through gritted teeth, the following advice: "If you have a concern about safety you can phone Hartlepool Borough Council." Where does Pandora phone for an emergency case of sense-of-humour failure?

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