Could Galloway's party snub cause a Cable Street riot?
Thursday 05 October 2006
* Last year's "Battle of Bethnal Green" between George Galloway MP and Oona King was among the most brutal of recent election stand-offs.
The whiff of rotten eggs (and not just the ones King, pictured right, was pelted with as she visited a Jewish cemetery) still wafts across the East End. Galloway is outraged at a perceived snub in favour of his rival.
This week marks 70 years since East Londoners defeated Oswald Mosley's British Union of Fascists by preventing them from marching through Cable Street in Stepney. There will be a celebratory anti-fascist street festival on Sunday.
Galloway, the area's MP, has his moustache in a twist because the list of patrons for the festival is "packed full of Labour cronies" - and he's not on it.
King is a patron, as is minister Ruth Kelly, Labour peer Baroness Uddin and Tony Benn. Kelly's husband, Derek Gadd, sits on the organising committee.
Galloway's office wrote to organisers expressing his "dismay" at the "insult", claiming the committee had "sullied this extremely important event by introducing political prejudice".
Galloway's sidekick and spokesman Ron McKay says: "He knew nothing about it. They're quite deliberately trying to cut him out. What's Oona King got to do with it anymore?"
The organisers' secretary, Jil Cove, said it was "very sad" that Galloway was upset. "He received an invitation to come along if he wants. It is up to him. As we told his office, we're not a public body and don't have to explain our decisions."
* Could the 1980s pop-picker Mike Read turn around the Conservatives' fortunes in their so far laughable search for a familiar candidate to challenge Ken Livingstone as Mayor of London?
Read was a surprise guest at the Tories' conference dinner on Monday evening, where he entertained guests with a 10-minute political rap.
Afterwards, he was approached by several MPs eager for him to submit his name for the vacant candidacy.
"There was a gathering swell throughout the evening," he tells me, declining to perform the rap. "I think because I've spent a while working in the media and am a recognisable figure, they thought I might be suitable.
"I didn't agree to anything, though, I just said I'd meet them soon and have a chat about it. I thought it would be churlish not to."
No "slipped discs" gags.
* More news on the blossoming companionship between one of our most revered filmmakers, Anthony Minghella, and Gordon Brown.
Minghella will interview the Chancellor about his book Moving Britain Forward at the Cheltenham Literary Festival on Saturday, and again on Sunday in Edinburgh. Minghella worked with Brown last year, directing a sugary short film featuring him and Blair as bestest buddies ahead of the general election.
Brown won admiring glances from the film industry after promising it generous tax cuts last year. Lord Attenborough told me, then, that he was "one of Britain's finest chancellors".
Pandora's suggestion box is now open for roles Brown might play, should he be pipped to No 10. Robert the Bruce watching the spider?
* Pandora bumped into Phil Collins - the Turner Prize nominee, not the waxen-skulled musician - at Tate Britain on Tuesday night, for the gin-drinking bash celebrating the start of the four competitors' esoteric shows.
Artworld luminaries considered Collins' exhibit - the sound-proofed, functioning office of a television production company, set up inside the Tate - to have a decent chance of scooping the £25,000 prize in December.
Where did he find his inspiration, I asked the artist? "I, er [looks over my shoulder]... yeah... I've never worked in an office so it's an interesting idea as a setting... [looks about]. I've never worked... I have a studio in Glasgow, been there since February. [Waves.]
"Anyway, great talking to you."
* Indulge in a brief sigh of relief/pang of disappointment - because the aforementioned kidnap of the writer and convicted perjurer is a stage stunt.
There's No Place Like A Home, touring British theatres, outlines the dire straits of a group of OAPs trying to save their retirement home (David Cameron take note). In an attempt to raise the necessary wonga, they nab Lord Archer and demand a £380,000 ransom from his wife Mary.
Archer, renowned for his voice recordings, has been a good sport and read the lines demanding the ransom, so they can be replayed every night.
Apparently, I mustn't disclose whether or not the crusties chain him to a radiator and torture him with white noise and reruns of Crossroads - or, indeed, whether Lady Archer coughs up. Sorry!
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