Diary: A soft-rock coalition

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The Independent Online

Miliband (E) was understandably keen to distance himself from David Cameron during his first leader's speech yesterday. Despite their divergent politics, however, it seems the party heads share a taste for 1980s-inflected MOR soft-rock.

Cameron famously chose "All These Things That I've Done", by his favourite band The Killers, as the soundtrack to an early conference appearance. Ed's outro, meanwhile, was the equally stadium-sized "Use Somebody" by the Kings of Leon. Theories abound as to its significance: presumably Miliband (E)'s aides were keen on the insistent, if almost inaudible, refrain of the song's middle eight: "I'm ready, I'm ready". The chorus might, too, be directed at Miliband (D), wavering over whether to join his brother's shadow Cabinet: "You know that I could use somebody: someone like you and all you know and how you speak."

I must also note that, upon the song's release in 2008, music weekly the NME warned that the band "may be in danger of mistaking bluster for brilliance". Apt indeed.

* While the Labour conference was in full flow up in Manchester, back in the capital members of the Cabinet were enjoying a political farce – namely the press night of Yes, Prime Minister at the Gielgud Theatre. I hear Iain Duncan Smith, earning his title as Secretary of State for Work, cancelled his night out at 6pm to attend to pressing government business, only to change his mind at 6.30 and dash to the West End for curtain-up. The Quiet Man assured stewards he'd happily stand in the wings to watch the play, so as not to disturb the actors or audience. No such subtlety from Theresa May, however: as the curtain fell, the Home Secretary was whisked to her two waiting cars by a phalanx of heavies. The play, an update of the classic TV sitcom, portrays the Prime Minister of a shaky coalition government dealing with an economic crisis, while a foreign dignitary demands a teenage prostitute during a visit to Chequers, in exchange for signing a lucrative oil deal. Broadly plausible, then.

* For her next trick, Irish pop's proto-Gaga Roisin Murphy has been in the studio working on an "epic track" with a coterie of UK hip-hop artists. "Demon Lover", she told me cheerfully at Somerset House during London Fashion Week, is "a bit of an all-star event, with lots of British talent like Wiley and Kano". But the singer, 37 (best known as the former frontwoman of Moloko), explained that the band at the top of her wish list of collaborators had proven elusive so far. "I never normally say who I'd collaborate with, but the truth is – and it may never happen – it would be a dream come true to work with [art-house electro outfit] Daft Punk. How do you track them down, though? I mean, they live in a subway in Paris or something." Murphy will next be able to catch the perennially helmeted Parisians appearing briefly in December's sci-fi sequel Tron: Legacy, for which they've composed the soundtrack.

* Screenwriter Aaron Sorkin has sage advice for screenwriters considering cocaine to enhance their craft. The writer, whose copious drug use became common knowledge while he was writing The West Wing, has now been clean for nearly 10 years. "It doesn't matter if you're writing better or worse on cocaine," he told The Daily Beast. "Don't use cocaine. You're going to ruin your life." Early reviews for Sorkin's new film The Social Network have been ecstatic, so his theory would appear to hold water.

* Geraldine James may be starring in the next Sherlock Holmes film – alongside Jude Law, Robert Downey Jr and the newly announced Stephen Fry as Holmes's brother Mycroft – but it hasn't always been plain sailing for the actress. "I joined an acting company in the 1970s and I was getting paid £25 a week," said James, 60, at the premiere of Made in Dagenham, in which she stars as one of a group of women factory workers striking for equal pay. "I found out the boys were getting £28. They said it was because I didn't have an agent, but I knew it was because I was a woman." What's Stephen earning, I wonder?