Diary: Beware the Trojan panda, Nick

The Chinese state can be devilishly ingenious. Consider, if you will, giant pandas: the world's most effective sleeper agents. As the latest issue of Prospect points out, Nixon was presented with a pair of pandas on his 1972 visit to China; just four months later his cronies broke into Democrat headquarters at the Watergate. Later that year, Japanese PM Kakuei Tanaka took delivery of the deceptively cuddly Lan Lan and Kang Kang; he was soon ousted, and embroiled in a bribery scandal. Ted Heath, too, was given a pair of bears mere months before yielding No 10 to Harold Wilson. In 2000, the outgoing Clinton-Gore administration accepted pandas in recognition of years of careful diplomacy with the Chinese. A week later, Gore conceded the presidential election to Bush. And who signed for the UK's new pair of pandas this month? None other than Nick "29 Shags" Clegg. Canny one, that Cameron.

* The press has certainly been gallant in defence of Sian Massey's honour, but Andy Gray's least-favourite linesperson will probably be less than grateful to hear that hacks from certain red-tops have been busy trying to track down her ex-boyfriends – offering, I'm told, hefty cash incentives in return for "raunchy shots" of the 25-year-old. The game, as they say, has gone mad.



* Sadly, the treatment for my sitcom Anyone But Lembit (in which Lembit Opik plays himself failing to persuade the Lib Dems to let him run for Mayor) never gained traction in the commissioning departments of BBCs 1 to 4, ITV2, Channel 4, Five or Dave. But a new project beckons, inspired by the newly Oscar-nominated The King's Speech, and the fashionability of parliamentary films (viz Meryl Streep's Thatcher movie): a joint biopic of the Chancellor and his shadow, provisionally entitled A Cock And Balls. It tells the story of two posh young chaps, both hampered by embarrassing names – Gideon and Balls – and by their speech impediments. Ed Balls recently admitted he's a stammerer, while George (né Gideon) Osborne employed a Harley Street vocal coach to help him stop squeaking. Both overcome their afflictions to become the most powerful, ruthless and unpopular men in their respective political parties. Casting suggestions welcome: I'd like to get Alan Cumming and Philip Seymour Hoffman, but David Walliams and Steve McFadden would do. Lembit may merit a cameo.



* The presidency of the Oxford Union is a coveted post, previously held by three prime ministers of the UK and one of Pakistan. But I hear the incumbent has aspirations to outdo even his famed forebears: since assuming the role this term, James Langman has beefed up his staff of eager students, giving them such grand titles as "Director of Strategy", "President's Counsel" and "Chief of Staff". (This on top of the 34 elected officials who already run the, er, student society). A comely first-year has even been named "President's PA". I'd insert a snide joke, but it seems unwise to make an enemy of one so clearly destined for greatness.

highstreetken@independent.co.uk

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Ashdown Group: Human Resources Manager

£28000 - £35000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: A successful organisation...

Recruitment Genius: Internal Recruiter - Manufacturing

£20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Internal Recruiter (manufact...

Ashdown Group: HR Manager (CIPD) - Barking / East Ham - £50-55K

£50000 - £55000 per annum + 25 days holidays & benefits: Ashdown Group: HR Man...

Recruitment Genius: Operations / Project Manager

£40000 - £48000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This software company specialis...

Day In a Page

Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones