Andy McSmith's Diary: Paying lip service to endangered species as the poachers run amok

International conferences like the one the Government hosted last month on the slaughter of African and Asian wildlife by poachers produce fine speeches and commendable resolutions, but do they make any difference?

Andy McSmith's Diary: Good news for all those gay couples about to wed - Ukip recognises you

Ukip had two “unique selling points” until recently: one was its wish to pull out of the EU, the other was its obdurate opposition to gay marriage.

Andy McSmith's Diary: Len McCluskey’s a dyed-in-the-wool Union man – Soviet, that is

Len McCluskey, the general secretary of Unite, has sagely reminded us that they did not have crises like the present Ukraine situation back in the days of the USSR. “When it was the Soviet Union, Russians and Ukrainians mixed happily together and so it is regrettable what’s happened at the moment,” he tells the current edition of The House magazine, the trade journal for parliamentarians.

Andy McSmith's Diary: Looking like Rasputin helps - ex-Tory whip beats Labour's Chris Bryant to Russian job

There were chaotic scenes in a Commons committee room today, when more than 200 MPs crammed in to cast their votes. It was so crowded that some grabbed handfuls of ballot papers off the table, to pass to those at the back.

Andy McSmith's Diary: In office but not in power: curious case of Andrew Mitchell

Alistair Carmichael, the Scottish Secretary, regaled journalists at a press gallery lunch with amusing tales from his days as Lib Dem chief whip. When Andrew Mitchell replaced Patrick McLoughlin as Tory chief whip, he apparently announced: “This place is like a sergeants’ mess. It should be more like an officers’ mess.” Carmichael noted in passing that the Lib Dem whips’ office was always just a plain mess.

Andy McSmith's Diary: Parliamentary privilege and the police force that broke the law

Home Secretary Theresa May’s announcement of a public inquiry into undercover operations is not the only embarrassment the police suffered today. Sussex Police has been rebuked for committing a contempt of Parliament.

Andy McSmith's Diary: Being a former PM is expensive work, as Margaret Thatcher knew

Margaret Thatcher made a generous gesture to her predecessors, Jim Callaghan, Edward Heath et al, by acknowledging that an ex-Prime Minister continues to be a public figure for life, having to run an office, make public appearances and answer correspondence. She therefore introduced the public duty costs allowance, which any former Prime Minister can claim.

Andy McSmith's Diary: Britain really is best when it comes to laundering money

We have seen the images of Viktor Yanukovych’s £180m home, his other house in Crimea, his private zoo, and his golf course, and we think this is corruption on a fabulous scale, and yet he is a “rank amateur” compared with some of Russia’s kleptocrats, according to the US fund manager Bill Browder.

Andy McSmith's Diary: Harman’s next problem is a son who’s paid to make mischief online

As if Harriet Harman and her husband, Jack Dromey, have not been through enough lately, trouble may creep up on their family from another direction.

James McAvoy has stopped a play in order to tell someone off for using their mobile phone

Andy McSmith's Diary: You heard it from the horse’s mouth - Ukip can’t change a thing in Europe

Ukip is expected to get its best result ever in May’s elections to the European Parliament, chasing Labour for first place. But those who vote for them ought to know that their success will not make a blind bit of difference, because “they can’t change a thing”.

Andy McSmith's Diary: Could time be up for Peter Bone, the Tory right’s court jester?

Peter Bone, the Tory MP for Wellingborough, has made his mark on Parliament with a running gag about “Mrs Bone”. Her name has been invoked in Parliament so often that it would be tedious to list every mention. One example was when David Cameron returned from a confrontation with other EU leaders in January 2012. Mr Bone told MPs: “I am happy to report that Mrs Bone was singing in the bath yesterday.”

Andy McSmith's Diary: The day that Piers Morgan revealed all to Charlotte Church

As Piers Morgan contemplates his next move, there hangs over him the issue of phone hacking, and how much he knew while he was editor of the Daily Mirror from 1995 to 2004. Lord Justice Leveson, it will be recalled, found his protestations of complete ignorance “utterly unpersuasive”. Without suggesting that there was evidence that Morgan had ever sanctioned phone hacking, the judge concluded that “he was aware that it was taking place in the press as a whole and… was prepared to joke about it.”

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Day In a Page

All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

Robert Fisk: All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

Chuck Hagel and Martin Dempsey were pure Hollywood. They only needed Tom Cruise
Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

So claims an EU report which points to the Italian Mob’s alleged grip on everything from public works to property
Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

Once the poor relation, the awards show now has the top stars and boasts the best drama
French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

The ugly causeway is being dismantled, an elegant connection erected in its place. So everyone’s happy, right?
Radio 1 to hire 'YouTube-famous' vloggers to broadcast online

Radio 1’s new top ten

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David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

A blistering attack on US influence on British television has lifted the savvy head of Channel 4 out of the shadows
Tim Howard: I’m an old dog. I don’t get too excited

Tim Howard: I’m an old dog. I don’t get too excited

The Everton and US goalkeeper was such a star at the World Cup that the President phoned to congratulate him... not that he knows what the fuss is all about
Match of the Day at 50: Show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition

Tom Peck on Match of the Day at 50

The show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition
Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

The President came the nearest he has come yet to rivalling George W Bush’s gormless reaction to 9/11 , says Robert Fisk
Ebola outbreak: Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on the virus

Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on Ebola

A Christian charity’s efforts to save missionaries trapped in Africa by the crisis have been justifiably praised. But doubts remain about its evangelical motives
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Not even Jeremy Clarkson is bigger than the BBC, says TV boss

Corporation’s head of television confirms ‘Top Gear’ host was warned about racist language
Nick Clegg the movie: Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise

Nick Clegg the movie

Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise
Philip Larkin: Misogynist, racist, miserable? Or caring, playful man who lived for others?

Philip Larkin: What will survive of him?

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Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?

Waxing lyrical

Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?
Texas forensic astronomer finally pinpoints the exact birth of impressionism

Revealed (to the minute)

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