Diary: Manic street preaching

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The Independent Online

Do the members of the strident Welsh rock band Manic Street Preachers volunteer their political insights in interviews, or do their interlocutors feel obliged to request them? Earlier this month lead singer James Dean Bradfield gave his considered opinion on the Coalition, specifically the "disingenuous snakeyness" of Deputy PM Nick Clegg, to Wales on Sunday (you'd almost think he had a new album to promote). His bandmate Nicky Wire chimed in: "Surely someone must be inspired to say what a [dreadful fellow] Nick Clegg is? He is the David Brent of [ahem] politics. He's like a bad motivational speaker." Now, Wire expounds upon the mental state of former PM Tony Blair, to Spinnermusic.co.uk: "You just see something in Tony Blair's eyes and you just know he's forever broken," said the bassist, speculating on Blair's guilt about the Iraq war. "You can see it in his eyes. A shell of a man, really." Wire admitted he hadn't actually read the great man's memoir, A Journey, because he "[doesn't] like hardbacks, really."

* BBC big gun Andrew Marr apologised to Berkshire's road users yesterday, after a careering lorry spilt 15 tonnes of his heavyweight tome The Making of Modern Britain on to the A4 near Reading. "I can't decide whether it is a complete disastrous story for me or a triumphant one," said Marr. "Is it Marr's latest rotten book has been taken off to be pulped and the British transport system can't cope?"

The publisher, Pan Macmillan, insists the hefty hardbacks were all on their way to a paying customer (a huge fan, evidently). Still, one can understand Marr's pessimism: his previous work, A History of Modern Britain, was recalled in 2009 when the women's rights campaigner Erin Pizzey took legal action over an inaccuracy. We sympathise with that sort of thing at the Diary.

* Pre-election, my predecessor Pandora wound up sensitive Rory Stewart, now Conservative MP for Penrith and the Borders, by reporting his humorous comment made at a private dinner comparing the Lib Dems to the Taliban. ("Neither go away [but they'll] never form a government," or words to that effect. "Never form a government"? Whoops.) Stewart said he'd never talk to this newspaper again. Hoping he'd changed his mind, I sought his opinion on a matter of utmost importance. Stewart, you see, was named the coolest new MP in the Commons by GQ in March. But his star seems to have fallen: in the Sky News 2010 pack of political Top Trumps, distributed this week, his "Fanciability" rating is a mere 61 per cent, lower than fellow Tory newcomers Nick Boles (65) and Zac Goldsmith (100 per cent dreamy). Perhaps it's because the former soldier, royal tutor, Iraq-based diplomat, Harvard academic and celebrated author made a duff maiden speech, then suggested in an interview that some of his constituents held their trousers up "with twine". Sadly, when I called his office yesterday, an aide told me he'd prove hard to get hold of. No mobile signal in his "primitive" constituency? "Actually, he's in Afghanistan." The Lib Dem conference, you say? I'll try again next week.

* Might Mel Gibson, actor-director and alleged perpetuator of racist and misogynist terminology, also be in line for his first acting Oscar? That's the question being asked in Hollywood (not the only question, you understand) after Jodie Foster described Gibson's turn in her next movie, The Beaver, as "one of his most powerful and moving performances". Gibson, multiple sources assured the Deadline Hollywood blog, is "extraordinary" in the role of a man who talks to a Beaver-shaped hand puppet. And despicable behaviour needn't deter the Academy: just ask Roman Polanski.

* Just as Labour's favourite family feud reaches its climax, a press release arrives in my inbox, announcing the return of the third Miliband brother to the UK after a long absence. Steve will be appearing at the Royal Albert Hall and Manchester Apollo on 7 and 8 October respectively. Too late, I'm afraid, to affect the outcome of the leadership race.

highstreetken@independent.co.uk

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