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Andy McSmith's Diary: Now the grand old Duke of York really has got 10,000 followers


Prince Andrew, the Duke of York, is the first member of the Royal Family to go on Twitter. Naturally there was a stampede of people wanting to follow him, and in less than six hours, his following was in five figures.

Congratulations to tweeter @thejamesdixon for having the wit and patience to keep watch until he could grab a screen shot of the exact moment at which the Grand Old @TheDukeOfYork had 10,000 followers.

The first four royal tweets were not of the type to set the social media afire, and only one seems to have been attributable to the Prince himself. The very first said: “Welcome to my Twitter account – AY.” Those initials signify a tweet written by the Prince himself.

The next three, all of which were irreproachably dull, did not bear the AY imprimatur, from which we may deduce that they were written by his staff. There will be Twitter users out there who so wish they could attract thousands of followers on so little input.

The Prince is, of course, taking a risk, because he now has a Twitter handle that people can use to send hostile messages, in among the polite ones. One of the first, which went “Yo how’s Jeffrey Epstein?”, may have looked chummy enough to those who do not know the Jeffrey Epstein story.

He is an American financier and philanthropist who became a Gatsby-like figure after he was launched on the New York society scene by Ghislaine Maxwell, daughter of Robert Maxwell, the former owner of the Daily Mirror who stole £600m from pension funds he controlled and drowned at sea before the law caught up with him.

Prince Andrew was drawn into Epstein’s social circle and stayed at his New York home in December 2010, although by then the financier had been on the US sex offenders register for two years because of his unhealthy interest in teenage girls.

In March 2011, a photograph came to light of the Prince with his arm around the waist of a 17-year-old, Virginia Roberts, who accused Epstein of having sexually exploited her since she was 15.

This suggests that the Prince had been unfortunate, to put it mildly, in his choice of rich friends.

At least when he is on Twitter, he is not choosing his followers, so if he picks up some wrong ’uns, it is not his fault.

Cleggy played guitar, jamming good with Vince and Danny...

Though dining with Mick Jagger and L’Wren Scott at La Famiglia in the King’s Road prior to the Rolling Stones Hyde Park concert would not have been a God-awful small affair for Nick and Miriam Clegg, it would hardly have had the Deputy Prime Minister dancing in the street.

Jagger is not actually his biggest Sixties rock idol after all.

That honour goes to David Bowie, who was super cool in that period in the 1980s when Jagger went so out of fashion that he was refused entry to London’s hippest club, The Blitz, for being improperly dressed.

That, of course, was the period of Nick Clegg’s adolescence, which may explain why he did not grow up a Rolling Stones fan, as he surely would have done if he had been the same age as Tony Blair, who performed Rolling Stones numbers in his student days as lead singer of Ugly Rumours.

The Rolling Stones did not feature in the eight tracks Clegg chose for his 2010 appearance on Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs. David Bowie’s “Life on Mars” did. There is an old photograph, above, of a 22-year-old Nick Clegg dressed and made up as Ziggy Stardust.

Moreover, it was on the Ziggy Stardust album that Bowie sang the words that sum up Clegg’s current situation more succinctly than any other lines from any other song – “We’ve got five years, my brain hurts a lot. We’ve got five years, that’s all we’ve got.”

Boris remains wedded to sexism accusations

What the public likes about Boris Johnson is the way he says things other politicians would not. He pushed his luck during the World Economic Forum in London though.

The Malaysian Prime Minister Najik Razak said: “My officials have told me that of the latest university intake in Malaysia, a Muslim country, 68 per cent will be women entering our universities.” To which Johnson responded: “They’ve got to find men to marry.”

According to the journalist Adam Bienkov, who writes for the magazine Snipe, the  remark evoked “widespread laughter and a few groans”. Not for the first time London’s Mayor is accused of sexism. Labour’s shadow equalities minister Kate Green, for one, is demanding an apology.

Such a thing as bad publicity for Drenge

Drenge, the Derbyshire band, are not thrilled about the unexpected and highly publicised name check from Tom Watson, as he departed Labour’s Shadow Cabinet. You can see why. They are brothers, Eoin and Rory Loveless, aged 22 and 20, looking to build a following among teenagers who have heard about them from other teenagers. Watson is 46.

“It’s got nothing to do with us really, we’ve had no involvement in it,” Rory, the drummer, told BBC’s Newsbeat. “It’s just a guy signing off in a quirky manner and mentioning us. I’m not totally overjoyed that it happened but at the same time I don’t really care.”

It may be time to lay the acronyms to rest

“The rail industry makes things seem incredibly complex, and I include the Department of Transport in that,” the Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin complains in a speech he is delivering today.

“Sometimes we talk about things that mean nothing to the travelling public – HLOS, the Northern Hub, the Electric Spine, ATOC, the RDG.

“After 10 months as Transport Secretary, it’s taken me a while to understand them all, although sometimes it’s better not to find out. For instance, I suggested renaming HLOS the Rail Investment Programme... until an official pointed out that stood for RIP.”