Diary: Backbencher swears she never let rip at her kindly Chancellor
Never mind that the Prime Minister had to cope with an unseemly rabble (or, if you prefer, 81 of his own MPs) rebelling against him in the Commons, by yesterday talk was turning to an ugly incident apparently involving our esteemed Chancellor. Whispers were rife that George (né Gideon) Osborne had called Tory backbencher Andrea Leadsom for a "polite chat" before Monday evening's vote, in a kindly bid to help the confused woman see the error of her ways before rashly choosing to vote against those who knew best. Troublesome types went on to claim that a startled Gideon had been subsequently instructed, in the finest Queen's English, to "fuck off" by his junior colleague. Suffice it to say, as talk of "F-gate" quickly did the rounds, the MP for South Northamptonshire was enjoying a new cult status among colleagues and opponents alike. Mortified to hear of her rise to fame, Leadsom felt obliged to issue a denial, announcing that her conversation with the great man had, in fact, been "good natured".
Well that's a relief, none of us would want the other version of events to be true.
* While I'm assured in certain circles that she's officially a "national treasure", rather than the slightly annoying old bat I mistook her for, I'm surprised to learn that Ann Widdecombe has taken particular exception to one television offer.
"I turned down, yet again, Celebrity Big Brother, which I will never do," she insisted. "I don't know why I keep being asked." Perhaps she shouldn't be quite so dismissive. The former Tory MP is, after all, an esteemed columnist at the Daily Express, whose owner, Richard Desmond, went to the trouble of resurrecting the said reality show for his beloved Channel 5 earlier this year.
* Coalition aside, I'm obliged to report that one attempt at cross-party teamwork was overshadowed by embarrassment yesterday. Witnesses helpfully confirm that a five-a-side football match between MPs resulted in Tory sharp-shooter Iain Duncan Smith slotting what has been described as a "spectacular own goal" past his disgruntled goalkeeper, Labour frontbencher Jim Murphy.
* History suggests that whenever one of our leading politicians attempts to get down with the kids, the results can prove problematic.
The latest eager contestant is none other than Ed Miliband, who wasted little time in his bid for street cred during a revealing interview with 21-year-old Jamal Edwards on online channel SBTV.
When asked whether he and his like had embraced "hip-hop and youth culture" to satisfactory degrees, Miliband (E) earnestly replied: "Probably not. They probably think it's alien to them. It's not what they're used to. Do you think it would make a difference if we embraced it more?"
Just when it seemed we could soon be looking forward to one of the best media moments since Richard Madeley dressed up as Ali G, Ed bid a diplomatic retreat.
"But it's this thing of embarrassing Dad dancing," he more cautiously added.
"Your kids don't want to see you dancing at a wedding. You don't want to see me doing hip- hop."
Oh but we do Ed, we do...
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