Dawn Primarolo's announcement yesterday that she will stand down as Labour MP for Bristol South in 2015 brings to mind a true tale of how trivia can spread its contagion through media outlets.
Years ago, the political editor of the Western Daily Press was tasked with writing a political diary and, suffering from a shortage of material, he chucked in a couple of sentences based on an idle conversation that had taken place among male colleagues around a dinner table, during which they had agreed that Dawn, pictured, was the sexiest MP in the Commons. The same correspondent – who now, by the way, works on a very serious upmarket publication – was somewhat shocked when his news desk rang him to say that it was far too good a story for a diary, and ordered him to write 600 words to lead a news page on "Britain's sexiest MP". This was terrible news for the political editor of the rival Bristol Evening Post – who, by the way, is now a very eminent political journalist – who was resoundingly ticked off by his news desk for missing a major local story, and ordered to contact Dawn Primarolo to see how she felt about this dubious compliment.
He rang her at home at 7.30am. "Yes," she said wearily, "I've already had BBC Radio Bristol on."
Abbott breaks Twitter silence
Some MPs write their own tweets; others would like you to think that they do, when actually their staff do it for them. Diane Abbott, MP for Hackney North, was busted yesterday as being the latter category.
At 11.01 – ie half way through the two minutes' silence – a tweet appeared on the HackneyAbbott feed drawing attention to an opinion poll that was good for Labour. It quickly disappeared, to be replaced with a message that said: "Apologies. Over-enthusiastic staffer tweeted during two minute silence. I was actually in Hackney observing it." Wonder if Ms Abbott wrote that one herself.
Irony lost on one old Etonian
Paul Weller was very young when he wrote the hit "The Eton Rifles", provoked by the sight of Eton boys jeering at right-to-work marchers – though not as young as David Cameron or Boris Johnson, who were pupils at that illustrious school at the time. In middle age, the old mod teeters on the verge of being an establishment figure, what with David Cameron claiming three years ago that "The Eton Rifles" was his favourite track of all time, and other Weller songs being put to commercial use. "I've got less of a problem with an advert using it than I have a politician," he tells ShortList magazine. "When Tony Blair ran for office in 1997, they wanted to use 'The Changingman' for their campaign – but I wouldn't let them. So there are certain things I wouldn't do." Asked what he thought of Cameron complimenting "The Eton Rifles", Weller added: "I don't know how they could have misread the words so much. It's pretty simple. They're just stupid, I think."
Acrostic too clever for its own good
Stephen Pollard, the editor of The Jewish Chronicle, caused a stir on BBC's Question Time with his stout defence of Rupert Murdoch, whom he has described in the past as "one of the few genuinely great men of our time".
"I don't write for The Times," he told the studio audience in passing, though he did not say why not. He was hired as a Times columnist 10 years ago, but was fired before he had contributed so much as a word when his new employers learnt that, on his final day in his old job at the Daily Express, recently acquired by Richard Desmond, he had written a leader in which the first letter of each paragraph spelt out the message: "Fuck you Desmond".