Can three-in-a-bed Mo take on no-nonsense Ann in the battle of the Agony Tsars?

Mo Mowlam's first outing as an agony aunt for the lads' mag 'Zoo' reveals a frankness previously reserved for politicians. Steve Bloomfield reports
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The Independent Online

Threesomes may be offensive to women, a prostitute's job is to make men happy, while some girls find it difficult to have an orgasm. So says Britain's unlikeliest sex agony aunt. Mo Mowlam, architect of the Good Friday peace agreement in Northern Ireland, will from this week dispense such nuggets of wisdom in the weekly lads' magazine Zoo.

The Independent on Sunday has been shown Ms Mowlam's answers for her first two columns. The former cabinet minister tells one young man that he would be taking a risk suggesting a threesome to his girlfriend.

To another man who claims his girlfriend is "crap at sex", she recommends that he gives her another chance and takes time to find out what turns his partner on.

It's not a one-off. Ms Mowlam has a column planned for women too - in the celebrity magazine Closer. "By doing Zoo and Closer I'll have one for the boys and one for women," she said last night.

Ms Mowlam follows in the footsteps of Ann Widdecombe, the former Conservative Home Office minister, who writes a weekly advice column in The Guardian - although their rivalry is to be short-lived. Ms Widdecombe, it is understood, is likely to give up her role shortly, after becoming tired of it.

Ms Mowlam brushed aside concerns about Zoo's content - semi-naked women - and claimed her family life and experience as an MP had provided the perfect training for her new job.

"I just have to accept I don't agree with everything in the magazine, but this is an opportunity to get across to younger people," she told the IoS. "The one thing I enjoyed about being an MP was my surgeries, so this will be like my new surgery. I'm looking forward to it, particularly for young people who need to be listened to.

"I've got a stepson and six nephews. I'm Auntie Mo to all the boys, so I've talked about sex and growing up with them." Her column will be entitled "Mo's Sex Question Time".

Ms Mowlam stepped down as MP for Redcar at the 2001 general election.

Zoo's editor, Paul Merrill, said he thought Ms Mowlam would be up to the new challenge. His magazine is in a sales war with rival Nuts. Both have taken sales away from the traditional monthly men's magazines.

"If she can bring peace to Northern Ireland," he said, "I'm sure she can help Zoo readers to be better in the sack."

The world of agony aunts welcomed the latest celebrity recruit. Others who have dispensed advice in newspapers and magazines include Margaret Cook, ex-wife of the former foreign secretary; Ivana Trump and Vanessa Feltz.

Broadcaster and novelist Virginia Ironside said: "Ms Mowlam's answers sound kind, and kindness is all that matters. Boys in that age group are terribly vulnerable."

Claire Rayner also wished Ms Mowlam luck. "She's a sensible, passionate woman with her heart in the right place," she said. "She's certainly not Ann Widdecombe."

But Ms Widdecombe last night claimed that her column was never supposed to be taken seriously. "Mine was intended to be a send-up of agony columns," she said. "People are far too introspective, when what one really needs to do is realise we only get one chance in life - this isn't a dress rehearsal."

Mo Mowlam's first column is published in this Tuesday's edition of 'Zoo' magazine

MO'S ADVICE

Should I have a threesome? Lee, from Hull

Although having a threesome may be one of your sexual fantasies, you would be taking a risk suggesting it to your girlfriend. If she's a bit straight, it is unlikely that she will agree, and may be very offended.

Sex is not just a physical act; it affects you emotionally too. What if you prefer the other girl? What if the two girls gang up on you?

ANN'S ANSWER

I slept with my dad's best friend. I feel so guilty about it that I want to confess. Should I?

Why are you feeling guilty? Is the man married? Are you worried by the age gap? ... Are you disgusted with yourself because it was just a one-night stand? ... If any of these reasons apply ... you have to come to terms with your conscience and move on, learning that sex in haste can lead to repentance at leisure.

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