Davies wins battle of 'Statesman's' Tory twits

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The Independent Online

It's not just Labour MPs who are fighting off unwanted headlines at the moment. Tory MP David Davies has recently been involved in a humdinger of a row with the New Statesman.

Two weeks ago, the left-wing weekly ran a feature entitled "Top 10 Tory Twits", featuring the outspoken Monmouth MP (not to be confused with the Shadow Home Secretary) coming in at No 5.

So far, so funny. Except the piece bizarrely alleged Davies had been interviewed at home one morning on GMTV last year, menacingly brandishing a taser gun for the cameras "whilst his smiling family tucked into their cornflakes."

Not only does Davies say such an incident never happened, he's understandably gone ballistic as it's also a serious criminal offence for him to be in possession of such a weapon.

"It's just completely untrue," fumes Davies. "I don't mind this Tory twit nonsense, but I've trained with the TA and spent a lot of time with the police by working with the Special Constabulary and I don't want them thinking I'm the sort of bloke who mucks about with firearms."

Fortunately for the 'Staggers', instead of calling in the silks, Davies and the magazine have instead settled on a grovelling apology.

"I can't be bothered to fight this all the way. I've spent rather a long time tracking the GMTV tapes down to prove the story was rubbish and that took quite long enough, so I've accepted the apology and that's that," he adds.

Jamie's vote of confidence in his dad

There is a worrying fashion developing among leading British football managers at the moment to rule themselves out of the running for the England job. All, that is, except Harry Redknapp.

But when I ran into the veteran Portsmouth manager's photogenic son Jamie, left, at a recent cocktail party, he was less than optimistic about his old man's chances.

"Dad loves management and has got bags of passion – more than most – but I honestly can't see it happening," he said. "Here and now, I'll offer you 100-1 against him getting it."

What a generous offer, far better than the 16s currently being touted by most of the high street bookmakers. Rest assured, if the FA does pass the poisoned chalice on to Harry, I shall be seeking out a sizeable contribution from Redknapp jr to this year's Indy Christmas appeal.

Phil fancies the odds

Phil Collins is the latest moneybags celebrity to invest in a new arrival on London's increasingly crowded private members club scene.

Along with his fellow Genesis bandmate Mike Rutherford and Pink Floyd drummer Nick Mason, Collins has stumped up a lump of the starter money for One Alfred Place, an edgy new media hangout being fronted by former Soho House Chairman Robert Devereux.

The club, based in Bloomsbury, is due to open next February. Let's hope it fares better than Collins's fellow rocker Ronnie Wood's venture, the Harrington Club.

Four years ago, Wood lost his shirt after investing in the South Kensington haunt which reportedly gobbled up £8m of the guitarist's fortune.

Winning tie

Chris Huhne's campaign team have already tried to outspin their opponent with their "Calamity Clegg" dossier, now they're trying to outdress him.

"When Chris recently appeared on Question Time, we noticed that David Dimbleby was wearing a fantastic tie for the television," says a spokeswoman. "David explained he gets them from Gresham Blake in Brighton, so when Chris got the chance he took a detour to visit. He now has a large collection of what we call 'telly ties'."

I haven't seen one yet, but I doubt they'll be hard to spot. Blake also kits out those notably fruity dressers Jonathan Ross and Graham Norton.

Veteran Benn to tour again

At the sprightly age of 82, Tony Benn is to take his feted one-man show back to London's theatres after a four-year absence.

Theatre impresario Clive Conway, whose clients have included Alastair Campbell and William Hague, tells me Benn has agreed to a new handful of dates beginning in February.

"He played to sell-out audiences everywhere last time and we were all taken aback by the way it all took off , particularly Tony," says Conway. "He stopped a few years back to concentrate on other things, like his writing, so it's great he can now do some more. There's going to be lots of demand."

I only hope theatre bosses aren't confronted with another "Keith Richards incident", should Benn decide to light up his famous pipe mid-show.

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