Diary: Ross says he's no Yes man

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The Independent Online

What with hostilities having already gone up several notches this week in the AV debate, who better to drop behind enemy lines than television's favourite hard man Ross Kemp?

The former EastEnders and Ultimate Force star announces he's joined the ranks of the No campaign – news that's likely to get the other lot looking anxiously over their shoulders.

"I believe that equality is important, which is why I'm supporting one person, one vote," says Ross, with that distinctive hint of menace that's long ensured him a special place in viewers' hearts. "On May 5 I will be voting no. I hope you do, too."

Yesterday, unconfirmed rumours were rife that Kemp and his new commanding officer, one Colonel Gideon Osborne, were busy plotting military-style strategy behind closed doors.

While ominous talk of "taking out Ed Balls" was briefly said to have been on the agenda before cooler heads mercifully prevailed, unreliable sources claim Gideon's bragging to anyone who will listen that "I'm the brains – Ross is the muscle".

* The good Lords Reid and Prescott may have upset plenty of Labour colleagues by siding with David Cameron and the No to AV campaign, but relations between the two old brawlers have been anything but harmonious of late. Never one not to hold a grudge, Prezza recently attempted to plonk a hefty portion of blame at Reid's door when discussing Labour's failure to strike a post-election deal with the Lib Dems last year.

Keen to trumpet the fact that he'd personally urged Gordon Brown to seek a coalition, the former deputy prime minister named and shamed Reid and David Blunkett for publicly speaking out against the idea during negotiations last May.

"David Blunkett and John Reid decided to go on the airwaves together and launch this major tack against it," he told Five Live. "Well, I hope they're looking at the mess we've got at the moment and asking themselves whether that was the right judgement." Having departed the front bench long before the dramatic events of 2010, I suspect Reid will be as surprised as anyone to learn he was wielding such influence over the nation's political future.

* Having come a cropper at the hands of that wily old dog Hugh Grant, can it be surprising that former News of the Screws hack Paul McMullan suddenly has trust issues? What with alarmist types suggesting McMullan could soon be residing "somewhere under the M40" after Grant secretly recorded him making a series of allegations against his old employers and helpfully published the lot in the New Statesman, the man himself was understandably on edge when those renowned troublemakers at Amateur Photographer hunted him down this week. "Initially, McMullan seemed surprised by a call from AP's news desk and somewhat wary of our intentions," we're told. "'Is this a wind-up?' he asked." When finally reassured it wasn't the famously versatile Hugh cunningly employing one of his many film accents, McMullan mercifully started to breathe more easily. Indeed he was soon bragging to his new pals that he'd "paid cash" for his pub in Dover, cheekily adding: "I bought it thanks to Brad Pitt and Heather Mills." So who's the loser now?

* Newspaper diarists have long searched in vain for someone to fill the void left by John Major's amiable brother Terry since the latter's passing in 2007. One potential successor in the "colourful political sibling we can mischievously ring on a quiet day" stakes emerged this week in the form of Ken Clarke's younger brother Michael, following reports he faced prosecution for selling antiques from his tea room in Lincolnshire. Initial press pictures of Clarke Junior, also a Tory councillor, gave reason for hope – not least because the long-haired individual before us looked disturbingly reminiscent of a villain from The Sweeney (I respectfully direct younger readers to ITV4). Alas, it later emerged the said snaps were indeed roughly 30 years old, with the clean-cut 2011 version sadly looking far less shady.

* Regrettable to see that some of you took exception to my report on national treasure John Cleese yesterday. While I thought my intentions were clear when suggesting his best work "could still be ahead of him", suspicious types have interpreted this as cheap sarcasm on my part.