There was time eight years ago when Boris Johnson's eventful political career seemed to be over almost as soon it began, when he was sacked from the Conservative front bench for lying about his love life. While married to one woman, he had an affair with another, and she had an abortion. Yesterday, during a live web chat on the Mumsnet website, London's Mayor was asked: "Are you a feminist?" to which he gave the one word reply "Yes." Further detail might have been interesting.
Another questioner asked: "I think David Cameron bears a striking resemblance to Iggle Piggle. Which In The Night Garden character do you think you are most like and why?"
Johnson had to reply that he had not seen In The Night Garden, a Children's BBC programme shown in the early evening, but he promised: "I will watch out for Iggle Piggle and see if you're right."
The ITNG website says that Iggle Piggle, who is blue all over, is "modest" and "in need of reassurance and comfort, which is provided by his blanket and the narrator: 'Don't worry Iggle Piggle'." Is that how Cameron copes with the stress of high office. Is there a civil servant or special adviser whose job, when the going gets rough, is to tell the Prime Minister: "Don't worry, Iggle Piggle."
Prezza, the dotcom pioneer
The first people to take to Twitter were not all showbiz luvvies or media savvy kids chatting to their friends. The former deputy prime minister John Prescott, 73, was among the first to see its potential as a political tool, and he now sees it as the medium through which previously "untouchable" press moguls like Rupert Murdoch be called to account.
He tells two illustrative stories. Recently, he saw himself quoted in The Sunday Times saying words he never uttered. He complained on Twitter that the quote was "completely made up", and within an hour the newspaper publicly capitulated, blaming a "prod error".
But back in the pre-internet days of 1996, the London Evening Standard – then owned by the same company as The Daily Mail – ran a photograph of Prescott dining with his wife, Pauline, in which a bottle of Beck's on the table was touched up to look like Moët & Chandon, so that it could run the caption "Champagne Socialist". It took weeks of complaining and an article by Prescott published in The Independent to extract an apology.
"Internet tools such as Twitter and Facebook have created a speedy check and balance on our newspapers, a role the Press Complaints Commission has often failed miserably to fulfil," he wrote in the current issue of Reader's Digest.
Up to a point, Lord Prescott. What is true for a famous politician with an army of almost 127,000 Twitter followers does not apply to Joe Ordinary, who may not be on Twitter at all, and still needs a Press Commission or something like it to protect his reputation.
Mensch fights for her right to party
Louise Mensch, the chick-lit author turned Tory MP, obviously had a good time during Parliament's Easter break. She went to Cleveland, Ohio, for the 27th Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony. One band among the inductees, Red Hot Chili Peppers, are managed by her husband, Peter Mensch. The place was replete with music legends of various ages, including the rapper Ad-Rock of the Beastie Boys, as this delirious tweet by Mrs Mensch confirms: "Just met Ad-Rock & wife in lift leaving hotel (and he offered us ride to airport). Pretty much reached total nirvana now." Returning to Parliament after so much excitement must be a right let down.
Big Benn's towering achievement
One of the issues MPs can deal with now they are back at work is whether to rename St Stephen's Tower, one of the most famous towers in the world, except that most people do not know it by its correct name and call it Big Ben.
Tobias Ellwood, the Conservative MP for Bournemouth East, has suggested renaming it the Elizabeth Tower "in recognition of Her Majesty's 60 years of unbroken public service". The idea has not widely caught on, but it does have the backing of two former foreign secretaries, Sir Malcolm Rifkind and Jack Straw.
And its has provoked a mischievous counter-suggestion from the Labour troublemaker Paul Flynn, who – in recognition of the long service of the UK's most eminent socialist – proposed that the tower be renamed Big Benn.Reuse content