The path of a politician's secretary is rarely smooth and seldom straight - viz Louise Hobkinson, Bill Cash's recent employee, sadly coerced into an early exodus on account of over-exposure in the tabloids. Very few, however, aspire to such dizzy heights as Jan Royall, Neil Kinnock's secretary, who has announced her intention to stand as a candidate for his constituency of Islwyn, Wales, when Mr Kinnock departs to Brussels to take up his post as a European Commissioner.

Ms Royle, 39, a former flower importer, has run Kinnock's Westminster office for nine years and is said to be a favourite for the seat among parliamentary punters. Opposition, however is likely to come from the more traditional members of the local party, which is said to favour someone with stronger links to the area.

The seat, which Kinnock holds with a majority of 24,728, is likely to be much in demand, as it is one of the safest in Britain. Money is on John Smith, who lost his seat in the Vale of Glamorgan, also throwing his name into the ring. None the less, Ms Royall is said to have the advantage of support from her boss. 'He was positive and encouraging when I told him I wanted to stand,' she says, 'but he won't get involved. He'll leave it to one person one vote.'

The behaviour of supermodels is not what it used to be. Not only do they eat chocolate, drink beer and write books in their spare time, viz Naomi Campbell, but some appear to be not quite clear about everyday procedures. I refer in particular to the wafer-thin Kate Moss who, according to a story currently doing the fashion circuit, asked for some scrambled egg while on a magazine shoot recently. Accordingly, the scrambled egg arrived - and, to everyone's astonishment, instead of tucking in, Miss Moss calmly stubbed out her cigarette in it.

Shame on Tina Brown, editor of the New Yorker for declaring: 'One sees strange things in the corridor these days,' and likewise her deputy for collapsing in hysterics after Terry Major-Ball's visit to their offices on his first trip abroad. Surely someone so self-deprecating as Mr Major-Ball is undeserving of that kind of treatment, which should be reserved for pompous buffoons. That Mr Major-Ball is far removed from this category was in evidence on Monday evening at the launch of Deborah Lawrenson's book Hot Gossip in the Argyll Restaurant, Chelsea. He joked how a bus conductor had asked him recently for his autograph. 'What on earth do you want that for, I'm nobody,' he told him, adding: 'I know, I've clicked . . . if you get 20 of mine you can do a swap for one of Neil Kinnock's'

Ters at Newham council, where it has been discovered that the insurance for the mayor's pounds 130,000 gold chain, badge and cross, stolen in April, had lapsed. Ironically, earlier this year they were sent for insurance valuation but during the process the valuer died, necessitating the return of the items to the Town Hall from where they were stolen before further evaluation could be organised. 'It is incredibly bad luck,' sighed a spokesman,

looking mournfully, no doubt, at the chain's replacement - a modest silver-gilt effort worth a mere pounds 4,000.

A note for all those Liberal Democrats alarmed by what appears to be a completely open ballot system employed by Cowley Street for the party's presidential elections. Members have received envelopes containing a ballot form and a slip asking for name, address and ethnic origin. However, the slip, I'm assured by returning officer Graham Elson, is removed from the envelope well before the sealed ballot papers are put into a voting box. 'It is just a way of monitoring the party's ethnic mix,' he explains. 'There is no way that anyone will know who voted for whom.'

(Photographs omitted)

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