Diary: Why it pays to be conservative at parties


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The Independent Online

Now that Aidan Burley has been sacked from the Government over that stag party where a guest dressed as a Nazi and others chanted Hitler's name, he will have lost the faux glamour that goes with being in the fast lane for promotion.

One person who experienced the Burley magnetism when he was a rising star was a 22-year-old Oxford graduate named Jodie Jones, whom he helped to inspire to become one of the country's youngest elected councillors.

"Throughout university, and in the year afterwards I spent working abroad, politics was never far from my mind," she told Stylist magazine in August. "When I came back to my home town of Cannock, I found out that a young Conservative, Aidan Burley, had been voted in as MP of Cannock Chase, and this was an ex-mining Labour stronghold.

"I knew I had to meet Aidan, so I wrote to him and asked to work in his office. I 'shadowed' him for a few weeks and spent a week in Westminster... I decided almost immediately that I was going to run for councillor in Cannock Chase, and I got elected in May of this year."

Alas, she had not been in office long before she discovered how embarrassing photographs taken on social occasions can be. The press uncovered old Facebook photos of her at a university party, in one of which she was sitting on the floor looking very much the worse for drink.

That was foolish, perhaps, but at least she can now take comfort from knowing she is not the biggest prat among the Cannock Conservatives.

Dear leading by example

The website FleetStreetBlues picked up a much under-reported aspect of the life of North Korea's Kim Jong-il yesterday.

A book published in 1983 paid tribute to him as a "great teacher of journalists", giving the example of a hack who lazily supposed that he could write up a story about pepper plantation from the comfort of his office. The Dear Leader was having none of this, and escorted him "to a rugged ravine and (across) a flooded river to personally count the bushes."

"Comrade journalist," Mr Kim declared, "you must see things on the spot before you write your articles. Otherwise you may talk big."

The shamed journalist blushed as he contemplated all the stuff he had written without venturing out to see for himself. An example to us all.

The wrong arm of the law

An argument between guests at a private party at the Staincliffe Hotel, Seaton Carew, near Hartlepool, last week got so loud that someone called the police.

Three squad cars and a dog turned up – and discovered that the offending revellers were fellow officers, having a Christmas social.


Deripaska's notable visit

The Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska paid an unpublicised visit to London last week, not to fight a court battle, or buy a Premier League football club, but to listen to music.

When he is not busy presiding over En+, one of the world's largest mining, metals and energy conglomerates, or entertaining the likes of George Osborne and Peter Mandelson aboard his yacht, the oligarch also disperses millions through the Volnoe Delo charitable foundation.

Last week, he was host at a concert in Sloane Square by some of Russia's greatest classical performers, including the renowned violist Yury Bashmet. The financier Nat Rothschild, the head of the UK Atomic Energy Authority, Lady Judge, and the Russian ambassador Alexander Yakovenko were there. Lord Mandelson was invited but did not make it.


High times at the Archives

You would not think of the National Archives in Kew as the place to find hard drugs, but a researcher delving in the dusty archives came upon 19 sachets of white powder in a package sent to London by the British consulate in Cairo in 1928. It was a gram of heroin, since surrendered to the Metropolitan Police.

Other items that have turned up in the National Archives from time to time include a mummified rat, the death mask of a 16th-century Dean of York, and a pair of red pyjamas reputedly worn by a man arrested for having sex with 32 men while wearing women's make-up.