Diary: Osborne's a lone ranger as support melts away


It passed almost unnoticed, but the Coalition Government has endured its first House of Commons defeat. The Chancellor, George Osborne, proposed a motion "that his House has considered the economy". Oh no it hasn't, MPs voted, by 213 to 79. On one level, it does not matter because it was a vote about nothing – though in parliamentary history, such votes can be significant. The motion that brought down Neville Chamberlain in 1940 was whether "this House do adjourn". What must worry Government business managers is that so few MPs could be cajoled into sticking around to give the Chancellor a show of support.

Another fine mess for Miriam Clegg

The children... make a terrible mess, but it's worth it!" said Miriam Gonzalez Durante, wife of Nick Clegg, as she shared her thoughts on cooking with Stylist magazine. They sound like their father.

The mystery of the Russian election

Labour MP Michael Connarty, back in Westminster after an 18-hour stint as an observer for the Council of Europe on polling day in Russia, tells me that Fair Russia, the social democratic opposition party, was the outright winner at all 12 polling stations he visited. At none did Vladimir Putin's United Russia take more than a third of the vote.

Yet the final count gave United Russia 49 per cent nationally, Fair Russia 13 per cent. Two explanations spring to mind. Connarty was in St Petersburg, not a typical Russian city. Or maybe Putin's party got better results wherever there were no foreign observers to deter vote rigging.

Medvedev falls foul of Twitter

Dmitri Medvedev, the Russian President, was caught in a comical situation yesterday after he accidentally retweeted a gobsmackingly obscene message. Transliterated from the Cyrillic, it said: "Sevodnya stalo ochevidno, chto esli chelovek pishet v bloge slovosochetahie 'partiya zhulikov i vorov' on tupo baran eb@nyi b rot :)" (No, I don't understand either, but it is something to do with blogging the word combination "party of frauds and thieves". Tupo baran means "stupid ram")

Christmas spirit lacking in Commons

There was a subdued celebration in an office adjoining the large Portcullis café inside Parliament yesterday, when the lights on a miniature Christmas tree were ceremonially switched on while a handful of parliamentary staff sipped wine and munched mince pies. When your diarist passed by, there was just one MP taking time to chat to the staff, Colonel Bob Stewart, former head of British forces in Bosnia. A good officer knows how to take care of the squaddies.

Metallica: the euro crisis tour

The euro crisis had to do someone some good somewhere. Heavy metal fans will be thrilled to know that Metallica, who have been contributing to their tinnitus for 30 years with such anthems as "The Four Horsemen" will take a European Summer Vacation tour in 2012, one year earlier than planned. Their manager, Cliff Burnstein, explained why. "Over the next few years, the dollar will be stronger and the euro weaker, and if that's the case, I want to take advantage of that by playing more of these [European] shows," he told the Wall Street Journal. Red Hot Chili Peppers, another group Mr Burnstein manages, are also bringing forward a European tour.

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