Blair's right to remain silent on Galloway's dodgy acting

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The Independent Online

* George Galloway is rarely seen in the House of Commons - he says he prefers to give speeches and interact with the public.

The shy and retiring MP's extra-parliamentary activities have included meeting Saddam Hussein, castigating US senators and going on Celebrity Big Brother - where he wore a skin-tight red leotard to dance with transvestite singer Pete Burns and pretended to be a cat lapping cream from another contestants' hands.

What next but releasing a hit single? Galloway has a record out on 1 January - a re-release of the Edwin Starr hit "War" ("Huh. Yeah. What is it good for? Absolutely nothing" etc) which is "a musical referendum" on Blair.

Gorgeous George is pictured above in the pop video, sporting one of the more restrained costumes from his dressing-up box. The plot, such as it is, concerns the spoof reunion of Blair's student band, Ugly Rumours, at a Beatles-style rooftop gig.

Cue the arrival of Sgt Galloway to investigate noise disturbance.

"Anthony Charles Lynton Blair," he says, "I'm arresting you on the charge of spreading Ugly Rumours, which have led to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people around the world."

Pre-orders for the 79p track (20p goes to the Stop the War Coalition) can be placed on Galloway's website.

Sadly his vocal contribution is limited and most words belong to The Drifters vocalist Patrick Alan.

Still, let's hope it fares indefatigably in the charts.

* It ain't over yet for that wannabe golden boy of Tory politics, Adam Rickitt - a Cameron A-lister who hasbeen rejected as a potential candidate by associations in Mid Norfolk and Folkestone.

The former Coronation Street star and gay pin-up would "give both arms and legs" to become a Tory MP. So he may be buoyed by news that the Tory candidate for Chester, Paul Offer, has stepped down after rowing with activists.

Rickitt who hails from nearby Crewe, is a contender for the key seat, and has made efforts to appear well- informed about the city.

Asked by blogger Iain Dale which laws he'd most like to see changed if he became an MP, Rickitt replied: "The legal ability to shoot a Welshman from the walls of Chester with a longbow. It's archaic [and] I'm not sure really tends to send the right message nowadays!"

That loophole is quite popular with the locals.

* Rejoice, OAPs! The ever-youthful Sharon Osbourne has been unveiled as the new "face" of internet and live telly bingo.

Osbourne fronts advertising for Gala Bingo, which cosily happens to sponsor her ITV chat show.

"I've done it in the bedroom, in the garden, in the kitchen, and in the front room," she informs us noisily, of her "daubing". (Writing with fat bingo pens.)

Having previously marketed herself as a spring chicken, it is something of a revelation that Shazza has finally joined the Woodbines-and-slippers brigade.

So she plays bingo? With Ozzy?

Says her spokesman: "No, she doesn't. She's just fronting it, like any celebrity does with any other endorsement."

Well. At least he's honest.

* Sacha Baron Cohen's film Borat: Cultural Learnings of America For Make Benefit Of Glorious Nation Of Kazakhstan didn't shatter cultural barriers.

Portraying Kazakhs as backward, incestuous drunks who keep prostitutes in cages, sell each other bales of pubic hair and make gays wear blue hats wouldn't usually invite comparison to From Russia With Love, Doctor Zhivago or The Manchurian Candidate.

Nonetheless, the Slavic Review - not, I concede, currently delivered to Pandora by the Marsh Wall paperboy - has invited readers to submit 5,000-word scholarly essays "relating in some substantial way to Borat and to interaction between Eurasia and the West".

Contributions by the end of March to Professor Mark Steinberg at the University of Illinois, for peer review.

* Tony Blair covered all his bases on Desert Island Discs back in 1996, when the PM-to-be's selection included the Beatles, Bruce Springsteen, classical composer Claude Debussy and a ballad about a jobless man by a band no one had heard of. (Some saw Peter Mandelson at work.)

What, then, what might we expect from his good lady wife, Cherie Booth QC? A mischievous mole from the BBC contacts me to say he's heard a trailer advertising Cherie's appearance on the show over Christmas.

A spokesman for Desert Island Discs denies this is the case, saying: "We're not sure if and when she might appear."

But just in case, I thought I'd leave it to you decide what she might choose. A bottle of something fizzy for the best suggestion. E-mail at the top.