Diary: Piers bigs up American appeal

There goes Piers Morgan again, overstating the size of something modestly proportioned. Morgan tells Radio Times: "They reckon 3-400 million watch [Piers Morgan Tonight on CNN] every night." His interviewer consulted "Them" – a CNN spokesman – who "clarified that '300m is a potential nightly audience' globally". So that potential audience includes me, even though I've never watched it (except for the silliest bits, on YouTube). Still, Morgan won't mind me saying so, as he claims to miss the irreverence of the British. When he was last in the UK, shopping at Boots in Kensington (I know it well), the cashier pointed over his shoulder at a group of old ladies and asked, "Is that your fan club?", then burst out laughing. "And I thought, that would never happen in America."

* The Prime Minister's low-cost trip to Spain for his wife's 40th birthday has got Conservative staffers chuckling, I'm told, about the rather less austere travel arrangements of the Chancellor. George (né Gideon) Osborne famously spent the new year on a skiing trip to the Swiss resort of Klosters, costing him and his family an estimated £11,000. Some junior Tory staffers suggest he could still get away with another skiing trip – as long as it was to Sheffield's popular dry-skiing centre, Ski Village, and on condition that he took Oliver Letwin with him on a "contrition tour" of the city. "The general feeling is he'd be able to get away with skiing in Scotland, but anything further just isn't going to look good," a Tory insider tells me.

* In fairness to poor Gideon, he does tend to offset his travel costs by staying with friends. In Klosters, for example, he holed up at a modest chalet owned by millionaire fund manager, Caspar Rock. And when he visited Corfu in 2008, you'll recall, he was there as the guest of his Bullingdon chum, banking scionNat Rothschild.

* Travelling economy class solely for the sake of appearances certainly seems to irk Alan Yentob, as this column noted yesterday. But senior BBC staff are far from the only ones to suffer the tyranny of "public perception". Last year, the PM boasted that he'd made ambassadors and other top diplomats fly economy class. And yesterday an email from Robert Devereux, Permanent Secretary at the Department of Work and Pensions, was leaked to the Political Scrapbook blog, in which he informed his civil servants that they, too, were second-class citizens – even if a first-class ticket turned out to be cheaper. "Such occasions are rare and generally arise if you are booking close to your departure date," Devereux suggested. "Even if you are booking at least a week in advance and first class is still cheaper, you are still required to purchase the standard ticket; it is a matter of public perception and overall, a first-class ban will save the department a significant amount." Well, good PR doesn't come cheap.

* With doctors and nurses facing the chop across the country, it's surely heartening to learn that the Commons is keeping its medical staff. The Speaker, Señor John Bercow, yesterday sent MPs a letter reminding them of the existence of the Commons's two part-time doctors and an occupational health nurse, to assist "Members who run into medical difficulties, especially with mental health and alcohol-related issues." Now that really is the frontline.

* Writer-director Peter Kosminsky has enjoyed plenty of praise for The Promise, his very fine four-part drama about the Israel/Palestine conflict, shown recently on Channel Four. Kosminsky's award-winning work has also covered the war in Bosnia, the death of David Kelly, and the failings of Britain's anti-terrorism policies. Where to now? Well, I'm reliably informed that Kosminsky's next project will concern none other than Nelson Mandela. Further details are as yet unforthcoming (he wasn't answering the phone yesterday), but given his history of hard-hitting and controversial dramas, it's liable to be a lot more interesting than Invictus.


Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Ashdown Group: HR Assistant (Events business) - Central Manchester - £20K

£18000 - £20000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: HR Assistant (Events busi...

Recruitment Genius: Project Engineer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This privately-owned company designs and manuf...

Recruitment Genius: Human Resources Officer

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity has arisen at th...

Ashdown Group: HR Manager - London - £40,000 + Bonus

£36000 - £40000 per annum + Bonus: Ashdown Group: HR Manager (Generalist) -Old...

Day In a Page

NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

Beige to the future

Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own