Diary: Libyan intervention puts Daniel in the lions' den again


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The human cost of bringing down the Gaddafi regime was so horrific that it is strange to discover that the military coup from which it began, in 1969, was bloodless. A nation celebrated and there was no one prepared to risk life and limb defending the corrupt regime Gaddafi overthrew, headed by the elderly, western-backed King Idris. The violence came later.

So you might think that there isn't anyone who seriously suggests that Libya should restore the Senussi family to Libya's throne. But there is. The Tory MP Daniel Kawczynski wants King Idris's great nephew and heir, Mohammed el-Senussi, who has lived in exile in London since 1988, to be crowned as his country's constitutional monarch. "I believe the unifying figure who is untainted by Gaddafi and who commands respect in Libya is Crown Prince Mohammed, the heir to the Libyan throne," Kawczynski told MPs in a debate he instigated in Parliament's Westminster Hall. "Having met him on several occasions, I consider him to be, if I may say so, a friend. I have met many leaders around the world, but few have impressed me as much as Crown Prince Mohammed. I raised directly with the Prime Minister how important it is for him, or at least one of his aides, to meet Crown Prince Mohammed, but to my knowledge no Foreign Office minister has yet met him, which I am concerned about."

Mr Kawczynski takes an enthusiast's interest in the Middle East and North Africa. Some weeks ago, he was to have been the host at a reception in the Commons funded by Ribal al-Assad, a cousin of President Bashar al-Assad of Syria, until the Foreign Secretary, William Hague, read about it (in The Independent) and told him to pull out.

A former foreign minister described Mr Kawczynski yesterday as "one of these very bright people whose political judgement is suspect".

Ivan the terrible?

During the Labour Party conference, the website LabourList published a survey of how Shadow Cabinet members were rated by its readers, with a seemingly lethal effect on the careers of the three who came bottom of the poll. They lost their jobs when Ed Miliband reshuffled the frontbench.

Yesterday, LabourList brought out another poll, which will not please many of the survivors of the last one, nearly all of whom have slipped down the charts because of the arrival of newcomers like Tom Watson, scourge of the Murdoch empire, who leapt in at second place, and the young contenders Rachel Reeves and Chuka Umunna, who came sixth and eighth, respectively.

Andy Burnham will be looking pleased with himself, having displaced Yvette Cooper in the No 1 slot, but meanwhile, down in the bottom three places, there is the chief whip, Rosie Winterton (but nobody likes chief whips), the newly-arrived education spokesman Stephen Twigg, and Ivan Lewis, who took a hammering in some parts of the media for suggesting that there should be a register from which journalists could be struck off for malpractice. Hang on in there, Ivan. Here at The Independent some of us think your suggestion of a journalists' register did not deserve the ridicule that was heaped upon it.

Ken's let-off

The House of Commons was a sea of red poppies at Prime Minister's Questions yesterday. The only person on either frontbench with a poppy-less lapel was the Justice Secretary, Ken Clarke, left. But he can be excused. He is the only one old enough to recall the war. To be fair, though, later in the day he was spotted dutifully poppied up.

Rum lacks flavour

"I've got no voice, I don't know how to write like me," is a cry of anguish you might hear from any self-aware newspaper hack, but the words were actually written by the founder of "Gonzo journalism" Hunter S Thompson, and put into the mouth of Paul Kemp, the lead character in the novel The Rum Dairy, which Thompson wrote in the 1960s, although it was not published until 1998. The book has been turned into a film which has its London premiere tonight.

It is reported to have cost $45m (£28m) to make and has Johnny Depp in the lead role, so you would think it could not go wrong, but early reports suggest it grossed only $5m (£3m) when it opened at 2,200 cinemas across the US last weekend, putting it on course to be an expensive turkey. Perhaps British audiences will be more receptive.