Diary: A Star turn from Sally

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The Independent Online

Just on the off chance that some of you might have missed it, newly crowned national treasure Sally Bercow made her much-anticipated debut as a columnist for the Daily Star Sunday yesterday.

Judging by Sally's recent form, her employer not-Sir Richard Desmond has been understandably expecting the Speaker's wife will prove good value for money in the months ahead. Following the publication of her first effort however, the rumblings from inside Dirty Des HQ suggest she'll have to "up her game" over the coming weeks if she's going to earn her keep.

While hopes in the Star newsroom understandably centered on Saucy Sally making a splash by shedding further light on those "breathless" weekends away with the Cuban-heeled Senor Bercow, she instead chose to champion the cause of the travellers facing eviction from Dale Farm in Essex – probably not a topic of discussion currently dominating the living rooms of your average Daily Star reader.

While some suggest Dirty Des will soon tire of his latest high-profile signing – "It'll be over by Christmas", ominously suggests one colleague – Sally did at least spare a few column inches to advise readers not to waste their hard-earned cash betting on the fate of her marriage. "If you were planning on rushing down the bookies, where I hear the odds on an imminent Bercow divorce are 3/1, save yourself a wasted journey," she wrote.

* While understandably disappointed that this column has not received the credit it deserved for recently delivering the earth-shattering summer scoop that our Chancellor has taken up jogging, I'm glad to see the nation's paparazzi have since been good enough to ensure we now have pictorial evidence.

While young George (né Gideon) cut a defiant figure when snapped panting his way through St James's Park the other day, allies assure me he's at pains to avoid one potential humiliation. Despite what is being described as a "kind offer" from one Dave (PM), suggesting that Gideon might want to join him and personal trainer Matt Roberts when they pound the streets in the early hours, I'm assured the Chancellor has, to date, wisely declined.

Dave is, after all, known to be not without a competitive streak, which could lead to embarassment for such a relatively inexperienced athlete as Gideon. What's more, he understandably has no intention of following the undignified example of that old toadie Desmond Swayne, who, as Dave's parliamentary private secretary, is reportedly under strict orders to jog several yards behind his boss whenever they are confronted by the cameras.

* As I patiently await the green light for my political biography highlighting Gordon Brown's so far overlooked man-management skills, I see column favourite Ed Balls has once again been cast in a disappointingly villainous light in Alistair Darling's new memoirs. As well as suggesting that Gordon's a psycho and Mervyn King's a pompous idiot (I paraphrase only slightly), Darling has been busy exacting revenge on his old Cabinet colleague, who, he points out, was not only lined up by Gordon to replace him in 11 Downing Street, but who also less than helpfully ran an "alternative Treasury unit" inside the government at the time.

Perhaps not surprisingly, Ed's own attempts in recent days to earnestly assure us that all this is a silly misunderstanding on poor old Alistair's part doesn't appear to have convinced the public at large. Indeed, as the liberated Darling wields the dagger with increasing bloodlust, Balls' critics point out that he's long had "form" when it's come to incurring the wrath of normally mild-mannered senior party colleagues. Many still fondly recall the day back in 2008 when one Jack Straw – not known for being the violent, hot-blooded type – threatened to "punch Ed's lights out".

* It would be remiss of me not to acknowledge the news that glamour model-botherer Lembit Opik narrowly missed out on securing the Lib Dem London mayoral nomination (or as other reports point out, came an embarrassing fifth out of the five candidates standing).

Quite rightly, Lembit's starting to wonder how many friends he really has in a party to which he has given so very, very much. It's a far cry from the endorsement he got from Nick Clegg back in June, who suggested at the time that "glasses and a Welsh/Estonian background" were essential attributes for the party's mayoral candidate. Regrettably, there are now rumours this may have been little more than cheap sarcasm on Mr Clegg's part.