Don't vote Boris! Students come out against Johnson

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* If Boris Johnson reckoned full-time politics might be less treacherous than the editor's chair at the Sextator, he'd better think again.

The shadow Higher Education Secretary is sparking noisy demonstrations in the Scottish capital after putting himself forward as the next rector of Edinburgh University.

For the first time in its 150-year history, the students' association has taken sides in the election to the prestigious post, by advising members not to vote for Johnson because of his support for top-up fees.

On Thursday, the Henley MP, above, will have to negotiate a crowd of protesters hell-bent on pelting him with eggs "à la Ruth Kelly or John Prescott" outside the official hustings.

It promises to be even more memorable than Bozza's last visit, in January. That saw him autograph a young lady's cleavage before a left-leaning undergraduate tipped a pint of beer over his head.

Ruth Cameron, president of the students' association (which also conducts the election) last night admitted that Johnson will receive harsher treatment than other former rectors, who include Gladstone, Churchill and even Gordon Brown.

"It's the first time we've taken a stand against a candidate," she said. "But it would be disastrous for us if he won because of his views on student finance."

Johnson is anxious to appease his critics. "I found the students charming on my last visit, and I'm sure this week's debate will be a feast of reason," he says.

* The cross-dressing "glam-rock" singer Pete Burns is about to kiss goodbye to a dollop of his artistic credibility.

In his forthcoming autobiography, the music promoter Vince Power will claim that, in marked contrast to his public image, Burns is actually a middle-class Nimby.

By way of evidence, he'll cite a court case in which Burns gave evidence in 1996.

"When I bought the Clapham Grand, Burns lived on the road behind the club, and was part of the local residents association," recalls Power.

"I was trying to get a licence, but the residents were opposing my application."

"They needed a supporting witness who knew the music scene, and would talk about people throwing up outside if it got turned into a rock venue. Burns agreed to be that witness."

Power eventually got his licence, on appeal, but has never forgiven Burns. The Liverpudlian singer, for his part, seems keen to keep the episode under wraps: a spokesman wouldn't return my calls yesterday.

* Samantha Bond is stoical about the decision to axe her alter ego, Miss Moneypenny, from the forthcoming James Bond film.

Unlike her famous predecessor Lois Maxwell - who reckons the whole thing is "a travesty" - the comely actress says die-hard Bond, fans ought to be delighted.

"If you read the original Casino Royale, you'll see that Moneypenny didn't feature in the book, so it's natural that she's not in the film either," I'm told.

As to rumours that she may return in future episodes, Ms Bond - who was speaking at the launch of the BsquareB summer ball - is unequivocal.

"No. I've always been Pierce Brosnan's girl, and said that as long as he was going to play Bond then so would I [play Moneypenny]. But no longer.

"I've been the only modern Moneypenny to snog Bond, so to do it with another leading man would be like being unfaithful."

* The Energy minister, Malcolm Wicks, yesterday sneaked out an audit of "nuclear materials unaccounted for" on the DTI's website.

Last year, these figures revealed that 30kg of plutonium, enough for six bombs, was "missing" from Sellafield.

This time, Britain's largest nuclear power plant claims to have a "surplus" of 3.2kg of plutonium. In other words, they've found the radioactive stuff that went missing a year ago, plus an extra half a bomb's worth that now can't be accounted for.

"When materials are in a complex plant like this one, it's very difficult to keep an accurate measure," says a spokesman. "There are bound to be rounding-up errors."

How very reassuring!

* At this time of crisis, the Liberal Democrats claim a signal victory in the battle for the working man's vote.

Liz Lynne, one of their MEPs, put out a press release yesterday, saying that she's saved a British institution: the bare-chested builder.

Until yesterday, an EU Bill protecting workers from excess radiation would have prevented men on building sites from taking their tops off in hot weather.

Lynne, however, managed to insert an amendment that now allows brickies to display their manly torsos.

"All people should be made aware of the dangers of the sun," she says. "But making employers responsible for preventing their staff getting sunburnt is unnecessary."

As to her motivation for taking up the case: "Am I a fan of builders' bums? Actually, I'm more into builders' biceps."

pandora@independent.co.uk

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