Diary: George gathering dust

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The Independent Online

Even committed political agitators need a hobby. In a blog for the Daily Record, George Galloway reveals he's working on – what else? – a musical about Dusty Springfield. The fiery former MP recently spotted a CD of 1960s hits at a service station. Soon, he writes, it was gracing his car stereo. "The star who shines brighter than all the rest on this trip down memory lane is Dusty Springfield – as fresh today as a spring field should be. And, as it happens, one of the many projects on which I'm working – with Scots writer Ron McKay – is a stage musical, eponymously entitled Dusty." McKay and Galloway must've bonded over Springfield's hits while campaigning for Gaza. Yet Diary feels obliged to inform them their idea is not an original one. Dusty musicals have already been staged in Australia, The Netherlands and Bromley. Last year a theatre producer even appeared on Dragons' Den hoping to persuade Britain's best business minds to back her version (also eponymously entitled Dusty). Needless to say, they declined.

* At last, the knives are out in the hitherto suspiciously civilised Labour leadership contest. Yesterday Andy Burnham used these pages to accuse a nameless rival of briefing against him. Bruiser Balls strenuously denied he was the culprit. Now, a source close to one of the candidates contacts Diary to accuse money-magnet David Miliband of kickstarting his leadership campaign during the general election – when he was supposed to be gathering votes for Gordon. The then-Foreign Sec, said source assures us, raised eyebrows by contacting regional party officials, and asking them to set up private meetings with "key party activists" in their constituencies. At least one of these pre-election meetings took place, insists said source, in Manchester. We would ask said source whether this isn't, in fact, perfectly normal behaviour for a campaigning Cabinet member, but he's too busy telling us: "It was bang out of order on David's part. Everyone in the party was supposed to be pulling in the same direction working on the general election at the time, but he was laying down the foundations for his own campaign."

* This has to be worth a call to Miliband's press spokeswoman, Lisa Tremble. "I don't know what you're talking about," she responds politely. "Do you have a date for the meeting in Manchester? I'll check the diary for you." Erm, said source didn't furnish us with a date, actually – we'll have to get back to you on that. "It's just people trying to cause trouble. David did all the party asked of him and more during the election. Before the leadership campaign he said he wouldn't do any unattributable briefing. He wanted to get rid of the sense that people can brief behind the barrier of anonymity: people can say anything about anyone, and just try to damage them by implication. That's how the game works." It is? We're aghast.

* Still, Ed Miliband clings to the moral high ground – paraphrasing Bobby Kennedy, no less, in an interview with the Left Foot Forward blog yesterday. The Kennedy Bros make an appealing comparison for the Milibands who, like their heroes, lived in Massachusetts in their youth. Shame that they're more commonly compared to another pair of cerebral siblings: Frasier and Niles Crane.

* Following Jonathan Ross's move to ITV, a kindly reader points us to the star's pre-Sachsgate memoir, Why Do I Say These Things?, in which he recalls how depressed he became when he last worked for the channel. ITV, he laments, "never felt right for me. Too blatantly commercial to really suit my tastes... The shows [I made] for ITV were rubbish." Why the change of heart?

* Ross's new prime-time weekend chatshow could be catastrophic for Paul O'Grady's planned prime-time weekend chatshow. Both would be competing with Piers Morgan's prime-time weekend chatshow. An ITV spokesman said "a wide variety of shows can co-exist on ITV1" and we believed him. Until we studied the weekday tea-time chatshows: Titchmarsh endures, but Dickinson has been axed in favour of Michael Ball. Guess three's a crowd.