Diary: Birthday boy Booth

Among the reliably entertaining sub-plots of Tony Blair's reign in No 10 were the occasionally unhelpful outbursts from his troublesome father-in-law and former sitcom favourite Tony Booth.

The man previously best known to those of a certain age as television's foremost "Scouse Git" proved a steady source of column inches courtesy of his ongoing willingness to point out publicly precisely where Cherie's bloke was going wrong. We can only imagine what level of trademark pained smile our former leader reserved for the dishevelled thespian when family obligation occasionally required the two men to shoot the breeze.

Still, I'm glad to report that Tony (the Blair one, that is) was recently kind enough to be on hand to co-host the old rogue's 80th birthday party alongside Cherie at their Buckinghamshire home. The same couldn't be said for another of the veteran actor's high-profile daughters, journalist and campaigner Lauren Booth – who, having been on strained terms with her old man for many a year, was apparently denied an invitation.

By yesterday, those well-known Blair allies at the Daily Mail were said to be circling, having smelt a potential minor scoop, much to the consternation of Booth's fourth wife Stephenie. "They don't get on, so why would he invite her?" she pointed out to one family friend.

* It's hardly a secret that our Prime Minister and his officially "embattled" defence secretary Liam Fox have never been the best of buddies – then again, recent revelations have proved that being a close pal of the good doctor is pretty much a full-time job. Current events have left members of Foxy's old leadership campaign team from 2005 in nostalgic mood, pointing out he was denied a final round face-off with David Cameron by a mere six votes – (the penultimate ballot saw him secure 51 MPs' votes to David Davis's 57). "Davis's support was haemorrhaging and he was a beaten man by the time he scraped into the final round," says one ally. "Had Liam got through, the mutual loathing between him and Cameron would definitely have come to the surface. That would have been a leadership contest to remember." Mind you, had Fox managed to overcome the odds and triumph, just imagine the job title Adam Werritty would have given himself by now?

* While my detailed coverage of the Boris Johnson versus Ken Livingstone pizza challenge this week has regrettably been criticised in some uncharitable quarters as a "crass and blatant attempt to secure a free lunch", it's only right and fitting that I offer my professional verdict. Yesterday the said Boris and Ken pizzas were kindly delivered to the office, where, for the sake of healthy topical debate, I was required to taste both offerings under supervision. As someone famed for his political neutrality, it would of course be inappropriate for a man of my influence to say which proved the more pleasing – particularly with Ken allegedly keen to rig the result before the winner is named at the London Restaurant Festival next week. Still, my new friends at Pizza Express can rest assured that, following yesterday's delivery, I and my esteemed colleagues spent most of the afternoon stuffing our faces in a way only the best freeloaders know how.

* Ever since his heroic turn in the phone hacking saga, Labour's Tom Watson has predictably seen his stock enjoy a welcome rise around the corridors of Westminster. Indeed, party colleagues point out that Watson's been embracing his new showbiz profile with increasing enthusiasm – (I can also personally vouch for this after recently spying the big fella bopping, with visible emotion, to Phil Collins's Easy Lover in a certain Soho nightspot in the early hours). It seems there's little sign of the stardust fading any time soon, judging by news of his early success as Labour's recently-appointed deputy chairman. Watson apparently marked his arrival by sending out a well-worded begging letter to comrades up and down the land in a bid to boost the party coffers, and succeeded raising nearly £8,000 in a single day. "We've never had an email raise so much outside an election campaign," gushes one party staffer. "Tom got off to a flyer." If only I could erase the alarming memory of his Collins-inspired dance moves...

* I fear the former leader of Surrey County Council may have rather too much free time on his hands. Local Tory politician Dr Andrew Povey, who recently stood down from the post, reportedly managed to cause a spot of bother when he announced on Twitter that the authority's new cabinet consisted of "six men, four women, one known gay and no PhD". For the record, Dr Povey insists it was nothing more than a "factual comment" and adds it's certainly not a case of "sour grapes" on his part. Well I'm glad he's cleared that up.


Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Geography Teacher

£24000 - £33600 per annum + pre 12 week AWR : Randstad Education Manchester Se...

E150/2014 - English Language Checker (Grade B3)

On Application: Council of Europe: The European Court of Human Rights’s judgme...

Marketing Executive

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Charter Selection: A professional services company ...

Project Manager - Bristol South West

£400 - £450 per day: Orgtel: Project Manager (PM), Key Banking Client, Retail ...

Day In a Page

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

A writer spends a night on the streets

Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

UK's railways are entering a new golden age

New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

Why did we stop eating whelks?

Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
10 best women's sunglasses

In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice