Cameron is urged to be whiter than White's

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The Independent Online

* Try as he might, David Cameron can't seem to shake off criticism over his links to London's élitist clubland, or fears of a toff revival should he win power.

His own shadow minister for women and equality is under pressure - admittedly from a Labour troublemaker - to ask him to resign his membership of White's gentlemen's club, the stuffy St James establishment closed to the fairer sex.

Cameron, above right, has talked of the need for "real and lasting change" to the Conservatives' image, telling his troops: "That means every aspect of how we behave."

In a somewhat bossy letter to Tory shadow minister Eleanor Laing, Labour's Dawn Butler MP writes: "His membership of White's shows that for all his warm words, he is personally unwilling to take real action.

"As shadow minister for women and equality, will you now call on your leader immediately to resign his membership of Whites [sic], and undertake not to support institutions that exclude women."

Cameron defends dining and drinking in the plummy, Regency grandeur of White's, explaining that he uses the club to lunch with his stockbroker father, Ian, once its chairman. His brother, Alexander, his father-in-law - the landowner Sir Reginald Sheffield - and his stepfather-in-law Viscount Astor, are all said to be members.

"The fact that David Cameron occasionally meets his father at White's is well known and hardly new," says a Conservative Party spokesman.

Reform, reform!

* News of a heavyweight collaboration in the world of modern art: Salman Rushdie has joined forces with the celebrated Turner Prize-winning sculptor, Anish Kapoor.

Their as-yet unnamed work, which will feature in Kapoor's forthcoming exhibition at the Lisson Gallery, consists of "two bronze boxes conjoined with red wax".

Inscribed around the outside will be the first two paragraphs of text written by Rushdie, left: Blood Relations, or an Interrogation of the Arabian Nights. The writer's modern art debut results from the duo's 20-year dialogue.

"I've responded very strongly to the sensuality of Anish's forms and to his ability to remain lyrical even when he works on an immense scale," says Rushdie, whose last artistic collaboration was with the band U2, who based the lyrics to their 2000 ballad "The Ground Beneath Her Feet" on Rushdie's novel of the same name.

* More lavatory humour than kitchen talk, perhaps - but then what else would you expect from John Thomson and Gordon Ramsay?

The actor and the chef compete in tonight's F-Word to cook the best sausage pie, with discussion quickly turning to male fertility.

Thomson says he and wife Sam are undergoing IVF treatment to help conceive a second child. Ramsay surprisingly perhaps for a man who boasts "balls as big as pétanques", says doctors once told him he had "a very low sperm count" and bemoans the "humiliating" act of providing a sperm sample in a surgery.

"I don't know who's choosing the mags," replies Thomson, "but I'm bringing my own next time."

Enjoy your breakfast!

* Good to see the Tories reaching out ever closer to their ghetto roots. David Cameron's affectionate embrace of hoodie-wearing oiks seems to have green-lighted the Conservative chairman Francis Maude's appeal to his homies.

Asked in an interview with Tory Radio what the party felt it had to do to tackle its poor electoral performance, Maude replied: "Well, we're going to tool up." Maude may be "a reforming zealot disguised as Eeyore", but whatever could he have meant? helpfully translates "tool up" (vb) thus: "Grab your pistol, get your gun, e.g. 'Yo son: get the heater, dem boyz comin'".

Frightening! Especially for members of the blue-rinse brigade.

* Readers may have been labouring under the same misapprehension as Pandora that the Ministry of Silly Walks was Monty Python's sole contribution to the British Government.

We're happy to report, then, that our ambassador to Thailand, David William Fall, disagrees. Last night he held a seminar: "The influence of Monty Python on British Foreign Policy." What the locals made of it is anyone's guess. The British Embassy in Bangkok had unfortunately closed by the time Pandora rang to book its 400 baht (£5.50) buffet dinner reservation, but Python Terry Jones tells me he is "delighted" at the development.

"At last, our policies are being taken seriously by diplomats!" he cries. "We hope to see more sensible behaviour from our foreign ministers as a result."