Diary: Crossed wires make a splash out of Letwin's bin dumping


Henry Macrory, the former tabloid hack and much-liked spinner for the Tory Party, told a tale of classic misunderstanding at his farewell party in Downing Street.

During the Conservative conference last October, Henry bumped into the Cabinet Office minister Oliver Letwin on a Manchester street, looking under the weather. Letwin complained a visit to a curry house had left him with a case of Delhi belly.

Two days later, James Lyons, deputy political editor of the Daily Mirror, rang Macrory's mobile to warn him that the paper was splashing on "the Letwin story".

This was the story of Letwin reading his confidential cabinet papers in the park and depositing them in public bins, but Henry did not know that. He could hear only intermittent phrases – that the Mirror had "caught Letwin dumping ... in St James's Park ... in the bins... We caught him at it five days running..."

Henry thought it was a wind-up, until the man from the Mirror added: "We've got the pictures, and we've got the paper trail!" Letwin was in the audience as this tale was told, laughing.

Women MPs rule the roost in Bristol

Bristol is unusual in that three of its four MPs are women, a state of affairs which will be upheld even after the Labour MP for Bristol South, Dawn Primarolo, retires in 2015. A decision has been made locally to choose the Labour candidate to succeed her from an all-women shortlist.

Labour has already agreed that the candidate who will challenge Stephen Williams, Lib Dem MP for Bristol West, will also be from an all-women list, but will probably agree an open list to select who will challenge Charlotte Leslie, Tory MP for Bristol North West.

Kerry McCarthy, Labour MP for Bristol East, approves of women-only lists because they are "the one thing that actually works" in securing more equal representation. Stephen Williams disapproves because "there's always the danger that people will say, 'The only reason you're an MP is because of your gender'."

Free lunch for a good loser

Hugh Hunter, a Tory councillor in Prestwick, Ayrshire, knows how to be a good loser. He campaigned hard to prevent J D Wetherspoon from opening a new superpub in Prestwick's Main Street, but lost. Just before the pub opened, the staff were put through a dress rehearsal, in which free food and drinks were on offer. Hunter was there, tucking into a Sunday roast.

German Greens not a laughing matter

The fact the president of the German Green Party is called Ralf Fücks is not funny at all, says the former Foreign Office minister Denis MacShane. There is an umlaut over the "u", so it transliterates as Fuecks, he says. It is pronounced Fookes.

'Dancing queen' gets party going

As the Diamond Jubilee draws closer, I am not sure whether it is an advantage to have a face that resembles the one which appears on our stamps. Elizabeth Richard, a Queen lookalike, has been describing her adventures in Saga magazine: "I love to dance, so at parties I'll do the serious bit, reading speeches in my posh voice – before asking the DJ if he can play 'Dancing Queen'. I always get a wonderful reaction."