Cash-flow problem stops George going green

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When George Galloway's integrity gets called into question, libel writs have a nasty habit of landing on doormats.

It is, therefore, with some trepidation that Pandora focuses upon the Respect MP's car, a swanky Mercedes convertible.

In May, "gorgeous" George was asked about the gas-guzzling motor in a "You Ask The Questions" interview for this newspaper. "Would you swap your Mercedes S-class limousine for something more environmentally friendly?" asked one DP Campbell, from Swansea.

Galloway's reply was short and to the point: "It's 10 years old, it has done almost 200,000 miles and, yes, I will be."

That was then. But now, two months later, there is still no sign of the colourful MP actually keeping his promise.

His shiny red motor was still being driven around Westminster last week, and on Monday was parked near Galloway's office, in New Palace Yard.

Environmental groups, which had lauded his initial comments, reckon Galloway is hoping (Ming Campbell-style) for the public to forget the vote-winning pledge to dispense with his beloved motor.

However, a phone call to his office soon put things right. A spokesman blames cash-flow problems for the delay in downgrading the Merc.

"George still has plans to get a more environmentally friendly car," I'm told. "He's just waiting for all the money he's owed from the Telegraph libel action to come through first."

Recovering Wisdom goes back to hospital

It's going to take more than a bit of heart surgery to knock Sir Norman Wisdom off his perch.

The sprightly 91- year-old, who had an operation to fit a pacemaker this month, has wasted no time in resuming his acting career.

I gather that the BBC has offered Sir Norman a role in the popular prime-time hospital drama Holby City.

"I've received a script from the makers of the show," says his agent, Johnny Mann.

"We're currently looking at it to decide whether the part would be suitable."

The BBC says Wisdom's role is likely to be a one-off cameo, rather than a permanent part. But it's still a big ask for the nonagenarian actor.

Sir Norman announced his retirement last year, only to perform a volte face shortly afterwards, after being offered a walk-on in EastEnders.

Tories lose plot over Mayor

Turn again, Freddie? The novelist, and right-leaning columnist, Frederick Forsyth, is being talked up as a potential London mayor.

Conservative sources tell me he's one of several "big names" who will be sounded out to run in their forthcoming, US-style primary.

"The idea is to get as many famous people as possible to throw hats into the ring, so we've approached quite a few people," I'm told. "At present, our biggest name is the radio presenter Nick Ferrari; Freddie would be a definite improvement on him, at least."

Unfortunately, the man himself isn't keen. "This is a canard," says Forsyth, right. "I decided a long time ago that I'd never become a politician. It's a full-time job and I'm too old. I'm very happy raising sheep in countryside."


Ping! It's a leaked message from Alison Seabeck, an MP who recently landed a job in Geoff Hoon's office. This (somewhat desperate) note - sent to "on-message" Labour MPs - invites them to ask planted questions, next time Hoon appears before the Commons. "As some of you may already be aware, I was recently appointed Parliamentary Private Secretary to Geoff Hoon," it reads.

"If you would be willing to consider an EU perspective to your questions in the House and would like to discuss further, please either return attached slip, or e-mail. Alternatively, stop me in the corridor when you see me."

Mr Hoon's name has become Cockney rhyming slang for "buffoon." As this Machiavellian affair demonstrates, he's anything but.

Fellowes suffers lack of Truss

It's not often that Julian Fellowes, Britain's best-known bit of "posh", finds himself on the receiving end of a snub. Splendid, then, to hear that punctuation guru Lynne Truss turned down the chance to appear on Fellowes' game show, Never Mind The Full Stops. The reason, it emerges, was that Truss believes the BBC 4 programme to be a load of old rubbish.

"I was asked to be a panelist, but I wanted to wait until I had seen an episode before I appeared on it," Truss tells me. "I'm not sure why Julian Fellowes presents it - he's not written about grammar before. The whole show seemed a bit snobbish. My view is that people make mistakes, so language should be available for everyone."