Tobias Ellwood, the Tory MP for Bournemouth East, is a 6ft 2in former Army captain. He is such a fan of David Cameron that, during the 2006 leadership contest, he was pushing notes under the doors of other MPs pleading for their support. When a fellow Tory, Mark Pritchard, annoyed the Government with his persistent campaigning against cruelty to circus animals, Mr Ellwood, pictured right, jocularly suggested that he should be taken behind the bike shed and given "a good hiding". Last month, he lost his position as a parliamentary aide when the Defence Secretary, Liam Fox, resigned – but the whips quickly found him another berth.
However, he is nowhere near as popular with Bournemouth's leading burghers as he is with Camp Cameron. The trouble started when Mr Tobias launched an initiative called Conurbation 2050 to discuss the seaside resort's future, evidently without clearing his lines with the Conservative group leader and the deputy leader of Bournemouth Council. According to the Bournemouth Echo yesterday, the council leader, Peter Charron, sent the MP a series of emails complaining of his bad manners in not inviting councillors to the event, and basically telling him to keep off their grass. "We don't tell you how to vote in the House, do we?" he wrote.
The deputy leader, John Beesley, told the paper: "The best place to start would have been for Tobias Ellwood to give me a call to get the facts straight."
Mr Ellwood countered: "I will not be bullied by the leader or deputy. The notion that MPs cannot comment on local matters is not only parochial but Victorian."
Goldsmith forgets his history lessons
Zac Goldsmith backed down quickly at the Leveson Inquiry yesterday after likening Britain's tabloid press to Auschwitz. Odd that he, of all people, should resort to tasteless comparisons with the Holocaust, because his father, like Ed Miliband's, was lucky to escape when the Nazi blitzkrieg swept through Belgium and France. Zac's grandfather, the former Tory MP Frank Goldsmith, known as "Monsieur le Majeur", owned 48 of the finest hotels across France and Monaco. He had left England after the First World War because he was harassed here for being German. To the Nazis, he was a Jew, which meant he had to scramble aboard a refugee ship at Bayonne with his family, including the infant James, Zac's father.
Misery over Merkel
After listening to Angela Merkel laying down the law the other day, a French radio commentator was heard to moan: "This is reminiscent of Madame Thatcher, except this time we'll have to do as she says."
The cookbook from Poo Corner
Each spring, the Bookseller magazine issues the Diagram Prize for Oddest Book Title. Last year's victor was the gripping-sounding 8th International Friction Stir Welding Symposium Proceedings, which you can purchase via Amazon for £222, if you haven't already. Or, if you prefer to own the fifth or seventh volumes in the series, they are available for only £150 each. I read that an entry for this year's competition is a cook book by a Thai chef, Saiyund Diwong, called Cooking With Poo — "poo" being Thai for "crab". I would want to see the cover before I was sure someone is not having us on.
Keeping it in the family
Soon after the Second World War, a question arose as to whether the historian Jacob Bronowski, who later found fame presenting the BBC series The Ascent Of Man, might be recruited to the Atomic Energy Agency because of his knowledge of air defence against the effects of an atom bomb. The intelligence services were consulted, and hastily advised against.
"He came to our notice in the early part of 1940, when he was a lecturer in mathematics at Hull University," an agent reported. "[The] police report that although no evidence was forthcoming, he was a member of the Communist Party, he was an extreme left-wing intellectual..."
There followed a list of organisations, such as the Left Book Club, in which Bronowski was implicated, followed by speculation that "his failure to have anything to do with the local Communist party was due to the fact that its members were far below his intellectual standard".
The 135-page dossier on Bronowski's allegedly subversive activities is held by the National Archives at Kew, Surrey. Yesterday, it said it had appointed of a new non-executive director, the historian Lisa Jardine, who happens to be Bronowski's daughter. Diary is sure she will make sure Daddy's file is looked after.