Diary: Mandy out of step with Beeb
Wednesday 24 November 2010
Waltzing Peter Mandelson, seen here strutting his stuff at Blackpool's Tower Ballroom, will not be appearing on his beloved Strictly Come Dancing, but controversy still rages as to who snubbed whom: Mandy or the BBC. The former First Secretary suggested stroppily to Total Politics magazine that no invitation to strut his stuff had been forthcoming: "They had their opportunity [to ask me]," he said, "and now they can get lost." Yet the Corporation's head of comms for Entertainment insists that, on the contrary, Mandelson declined an offer to take part – unlike cross-party fox-trotters Ann Widdecombe and Vince Cable, who is due to feature in a Christmas special. Well, it is two years since Mandy first expressed his interest in the show; perhaps the Beeb just played too hard to get.
* The sleepless nights are taking their toll on Miliband (E), who on Monday evening wiped the sick from his shoulder pads to address the winter reception of Labour's "Thousand Club" of party donors. The Labour leader reeled off a mental list of those shadow cabinet members present, thanking them each for their contributions. Unfortunately, he omitted one name: not Alan Johnson, whose mutterings about the 50p tax rate might have perturbed his plucky young boss; nor Ed Balls, who omitted Miliband (E) from his own roll call of shadow cabinet members whom he believed were taking the fight to the Coalition. No, the forgotten colleague was fragrant Shadow Communities Secretary Caroline Flint, who stood by a window gazing glumly at the Thames throughout the speech. "Window dressing again, Caroline?" cried one well-oiled wag.
* Meanwhile, Miliband (D)'s emotional state continues to concern followers of the former future Labour leader, whose tweets are increasingly despondent. Absent from the Thousand Club reception, the elder Miliband was instead in his constituency. Early yesterday, a kindly gentleman approached the onetime Foreign Secretary as he loitered close to the edge of the platform at Newcastle railway station. "Thanks to nice ex-miner at Newcastle station this morning," wrote Miliband (D) of the nameless Good Samaritan, who talked him back from the brink with some "kind, solid Labour words." Chin up, David. Chin up.
* The date has been named, my holiday is booked, but at least one question remains for organisers of the royal nuptials: how to fashion a seating plan that adequately organises the Windsors around the friends and family of the upper-Middletons. Who better to consult than that astute chronicler of all things class-based, Julian Fellowes, soon to be Lord Kitchener-Fellowes of West Stafford? Sadly, when I called the manor to ask his advice, he and his missus (lady-in-waiting to Princess Michael, dontcha know) were up in town – perhaps picking out hats for the occasion? The telephone was answered by an earthily-accented fellow, whom I can only assume was the butler. I'll try again tomorrow.
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