Diary: The PM's masterplan to make Gazza the verger

You won't believe this when it all looked so clear-cut, but the Cabinet seems bemused by the Big Society. Of the 25 ministers featured in an Independent on Sunday analysis of their efforts to lead from the front, 10 couldn't manage any response, while two (Andrew Mitchell and Jeremy *unt) cited charities they set up in Africa – admirable, but not much use in repairing the broken society here. As for David Cameron, he said, "I am saving my local pub and church hall", though without explaining how. Perhaps he means to install Gazza as the verger?

The best answer, meanwhile, came from Francis "Come Into The Garden" Maude. "I do... golly, what do I do?" We'll come to that below, but have a crack first. "I do a whole load of things." There, see what happens when you try. "I'm involved in my local church." Tremendous. And? "Um, gosh, that's a really unfair question cold." Indeed, indeed. Golly, gosh, though, what does Francis do when he's not slipping a fiver into the collection plate? According to intensive research, he is the minister responsible for selling the BS to the rest of us. And still this flagship policy struggles to leave dry dock. It makes not one whit of sense.

* Even more vulnerable than Francis in any reshuffle, we hear, is Kenneth Clarke. So it was a joy to see the old-timer on BBC1 yesterday doing his bit for the Big Society by helping Andrew Marr justify his £600k stipend. Ken won't be bullied by the right-wing tabloids over penal reform, he assured Andy, and spare his bones for that. However, the test of nerve isn't his, but Mr Cameron's. Will the PM defy The Sun and Mail, or confirm the growing hunch that his heraldic motto, above the push me-pull you suivant, is "U turn if you want to... but have the courtesy to let me complete my daily U-turn first"?

* With the Oscars on Sunday, Colin Firth has six days to fine tune his Best Actor winning speech. Given the 45 seconds allotted, any hilarious faux-stammering seems unlikely. So does any reference to not being first choice for George VI; nor even the second. But if the self-effacing Colin finds himself short of thankees, he could namecheck the dozen actors who, so a director told me the other night, made him lucky 13.

* Also in line for an award is Victoria Derbyshire, who tweaked the heartstrings on Radio 5 Live last week by interviewing "Rachel", an alcoholic GP off to rehab the moment she'd finished her crate of Guinness. It did go on a bit, and the impatient may have found Victoria's empathetic breathiness wearying. But the thought of the control room geniuses whispering, "keep it going, Vic, there's a Sony in this" into her headphones did wonders in defusing the mawkishness. With Esther Rantzen getting on, Victoria stakes her claim to replace her as that beloved national archetype, The Woman Who Cares, If Anything, Too Much.

* Still with awards, Tweet of the Week goes to Norman Lamb, parliamentary bag carrier (PPS) to Nick Clegg, for this. "I wonder, am I the only MP sitting on a bus at 11.20 on a Saturday night, signing constituency casework letters?" No idea, Norman, but you're definitely the only one pious and self-regarding enough to be tweeting about it in the belief that anyone cares. Now do pipe down.

* Sarah Brown's book about life in Downing Street is out today, and the revelatory highlights appear to be these: Gordon liked the X Factor, Berlusconi was a lech, and, um... as for Gordon's failure to provide a photograph to sit beside his predecessors in No 10, he's a busy man, what with popping to the Commons every third month. Since he can't carve an hour from his frantic schedule to sit for a portrait, I offer these time-saving suggestions for a pictorial representation of his days in power. Either a freeze-fame from his keynote YouTube address on MPs' expenses. Or, if there are copyright problems there, a 60cm x 80cm print of Munch's The Scream, available at £12.99 from popartuk.com.

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

Recruitment Genius: HR Manager

£36000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Ashdown Group: HR Manager Shared Services - Uxbridge, - 1 Year contract

£50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: HR Manager Shared Services - Uxbridge, Stock...

Recruitment Genius: Graduate Human Resource Officer and Executive Assistant

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join one of...

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

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

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living