Diary: Ed Bawls... Labour hardman with a softer side


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The Independent Online

We all thought Ed Balls was the hardman of the Shadow Cabinet, but it turns out that Balls O'Steel is just a big softie. Interviewed in the current issue of Total Politics magazine, he confesses that the sight of someone bringing a family heirloom to be valued on Antiques Roadshow makes him cry. He cried during the scene in The Sound Of Music when the father walks into the room and joins in the singing and the last time he cried was during a BBC documentary The Kids' Speech, watching the child with the stammer.

Clegg's confusion over Chilcot report

Publication of the long-awaited Chilcot Inquiry into the Iraq war is held up by a wrangle over whether certain classified government documents can be released. This problem is not unforeseen. Two years ago, Gordon Brown was accused of strangling the inquiry at birth by saying that documents essential to national security would be withheld. The accusation was levelled by the Liberal Democrat leader, Nick Clegg. Remember him? He is now the minister in charge of the Cabinet Office, the very department holding back documents that Sir John Chilcot wants to make public. What this situation obviously requires is for Nick Clegg, the Liberal Democrat leader, to write a letter of protest to Nick Clegg, the Deputy Prime Minister, who can then reply telling Nick Clegg, the Liberal Democrat leader, to get lost.

Bullingdon alumni too posh for play?

Oxford students are performing the play Posh, Laura Wade's satire about the antics of the Bullingdon Club. Their 19-year-old director, Susan Quirke, had the attention-grabbing wheeze of inviting three former Bullers: David Cameron, George Osborne and Boris Johnson. None will be turning up, of course, but Johnson sent apologies and a good-luck message.

Gaddafi file delayed by uni's inquiry

While Saif Gaddafi languishes in an improvised prison in southern Libya, the report by Lord Woolf, the retired Lord Chief Justice, into his £1.5m donation to the London School of Economics (LSE) languishes in a locked filing cabinet. It is for the LSE to make the findings public, but it is holding on to it while the University of London completes a separate inquiry into the circumstances under which Saif was awarded a PhD. It is alleged that his doctoral thesis was ghost-written by a Libyan academic. The panel carrying out the inquiry met last week and I am told it will report "shortly".

Accused banker's Swiss swagger

If the lawyers at Southwark Crown Court today need any tips on how to dress nattily, they could do worse than study the man in the dock. Kweku Adoboli, the banker accused of unauthorised trading that cost the Swiss bank UBS about £1.5bn, is due back in court today. He has taken fifth place, behind Sir Mervyn King, in the annual poll organised by the Savile Row tailor, Cad and the Dandy, to choose the Best Dressed Banker. The winner was Michelle Flynn, of Sapient.

Tory minister has a Blair hitch project

Far be it from me to defend a multimillionaire Tory, but Charles Hendry, an Energy minister, did not quite deserve the pasting he got from the Daily Mail and others, including Andrew Bolt, who claims to write Australia's most widely read political blog. As a minister, Mr Hendry promised to be part of "the greenest government ever". He and his wife have bought Blair Castle, in Ayrshire, one of the oldest inhabited homes in the UK. The castle has a substantial carbon footprint, making Mr Hendry a target for those who believe that anyone and everyone who makes "green" speeches about global warming is a hypocrite. But the Hendrys are not taking over Blair Castle as a country home but as a business providing a venue for weddings and conferences, in which his wife has 30 years' experience, and are planning improvements which will be reduce its carbon footprint by switching to renewable energy.

Nonetheless, it does make you wonder about that statement by George Osborne in which he claimed "we're all in it together" when a middle-ranking minister and his wife can afford adding a £2.5m Norman castle to their property portfolio.