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.

highstreetken@independent.co.uk

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

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Recruitment Genius: Office Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: Have you been doing a brilliant job in an admi...

Surrey County Council: Senior Project Officer (Fixed Term to Feb 2019)

£26,498 - £31,556: Surrey County Council: We are looking for an outgoing, conf...

Recruitment Genius: Interim Head of HR

£50000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you an innovative, senior H...

Recruitment Genius: Human Resources and Payroll Administrator

£20000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Our client, a very well respect...

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

It's not easy being Green

After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

Gorillas nearly missed

BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

The Downton Abbey effect

Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

China's wild panda numbers on the up

New census reveals 17% since 2003
Barbara Woodward: Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with the growing economic superpower

Our woman in Beijing builds a new relationship

Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with growing economic power
Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer. But the only British soldier to be awarded the Victoria Cross in Afghanistan has both

Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer

Beware of imitations, but the words of the soldier awarded the Victoria Cross were the real thing, says DJ Taylor
Alexander McQueen: The catwalk was a stage for the designer's astonishing and troubling vision

Alexander McQueen's astonishing vision

Ahead of a major retrospective, Alexander Fury talks to the collaborators who helped create the late designer's notorious spectacle
New BBC series savours half a century of food in Britain, from Vesta curries to nouvelle cuisine

Dinner through the decades

A new BBC series challenged Brandon Robshaw and his family to eat their way from the 1950s to the 1990s
Philippa Perry interview: The psychotherapist on McDonald's, fancy specs and meeting Grayson Perry on an evening course

Philippa Perry interview

The psychotherapist on McDonald's, fancy specs and meeting Grayson Perry on an evening course
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef recreates the exoticism of the Indonesian stir-fry

Bill Granger's Indonesian stir-fry recipes

Our chef was inspired by the south-east Asian cuisine he encountered as a teenager
Chelsea vs Tottenham: Harry Kane was at Wembley to see Spurs beat the Blues and win the Capital One Cup - now he's their great hope

Harry Kane interview

The striker was at Wembley to see Spurs beat the Blues and win the Capital One Cup - now he's their great hope
The Last Word: For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?

Michael Calvin's Last Word

For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?
HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?