Diary: Meddling Prince is up to his old tricks with Tories
Wednesday 19 October 2011
With lobbying in the spotlight, courtesy of the unfortunate Dr Fox and friends, it seems an appropriate moment for this column to remind readers of the nation's most vigorous and energetic lobbyist: the heir to the throne. Alastair Campbell claimed in his diaries that the Prince of Wales's persistent interventions over GM food, foxhunting, Lords reform and other assorted policy areas so exasperated Tony Blair that he complained to the Queen. And in the first 10 months of the Coalition Government, Charles held no fewer than nine meetings with ministers, seven of them at Clarence House. Among the Cabinet members subjected to his meddling were Michael Gove, Iain Duncan Smith, George (né Gideon) Osborne and Caroline Spelman, who, as Environment Secretary, is responsible for one of the Prince's pet briefs. Among the topics reportedly discussed were global warming and "tree health"; however, the precise contents of the aforementioned meetings remain confidential, thanks to the Prince of Wales's personal exemption from Freedom of Information laws.
* Conspicuous by his absence from Miliband (E)'s reshuffled Shadow Cabinet is former future Labour leader Miliband (D), despite calls for his return from such party grandees as Alastair Campbell and Philip Gould. According to Prospect, the choice may have been Miliband (D)'s, not Miliband (E)'s. "I made the right decision [not to serve under Ed] last year and I am sticking to it," he recently informed a friend. "And you can use your antennae to read into that what you will." Unkind observers may read into it that he thinks Miliband (E) is doing a poor enough job without Miliband (D) standing nearby making him look bad. But this column prefers to imagine that Miliband (D) is simply enjoying his new activities, such as his speaking tour of universities, or his nebulous and divisive boardroom post at Sunderland FC. (The weekend proved tricky on the diplomatic front, as Sunderland travelled to north London to play Arsenal, whom Miliband [D] actually supports. Arsenal won 2-1, leaving Sunderland hovering perilously close to the relegation zone.)
* More from the double-Ferrari world of Tamara "don't call me a socialite" Ecclestone, 27-year-old socialite daughter of Bernie. In order to show people she's "not this awful spoilt rich girl", Miss Ecclestone tells Grazia, she's taking part in a reality television series, modestly entitled Billion $$ [sic] Girl. "Lots of girls will relate to me in the show," she claims. "I get drunk, have a row with my boyfriend and cry. It's not much different crying in a limo or a Ford Fiesta, you still feel crap." (Thus speaks a woman who's never cried in a Fiesta, methinks.) The programme will also prove that Miss Ecclestone's family connections are as much a hindrance as a help. One compelling storyline involves her attempts to become a successful businessperson in her own right, by launching a range of hair products; sadly, when she decided to call said range "Formula 1", Bernie reportedly threatened to sue her. "I honestly thought he'd let me," she says. "But he went mental, so I had to change it. The whole thing was a bit of a disaster..."
* An awkward moment for immigration minister Damian Green, who on Monday attended the Human Trafficking Foundation Media Awards at the House of Lords, to present an Anti-Slavery International award to activist Marissa Begonia, on behalf of her organisation Kalayaan: Justice for Domestic Workers. Green had also penned a piece for the Huffington Post, condemning human trafficking. Ms Begonia was unimpressed, however, using her acceptance speech to attack the Government's plans to scrap overseas domestic worker visas. The move, Kalayaan claims, will lead to abuse and exploitation. One of Green's fellow attendees assures me the minister was positively "squirming".
* The ever-modest Salman Rushdie is writing a sci-fi TV drama, The Next People, and has been researching some of the competition, he tells Haaretz. So what did the great man make of Game of Thrones? "Garbage." Oh. What about The Wire? "It's okay, but in the end it's just a police series." Blasphemy!
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