'Interfering' Bagshawe inflames Tory tensions

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The Independent Online

* When fashionable "chick-lit" novelist Louise Bagshawe recently won the right to represent Corby Conservatives at the next general election, it was seen as the first resounding triumph for David Cameron's controversial A-list of candidates.

Unfortunately, little more than a month after Bagshawe, pictured, booked her ticket for the hustings, she's managed to upset a number of Tory MPs who are unhappy about her giddy enthusiasm to see to see friends hoping for selection repeat her success.

Some members are preparing to lodge an official complaint with Conservative headquarters over her "repeated interference" in selections elsewhere. Their anger apparently stems from the writer's regular postings on the website Conservative Home, where she has been endorsing pals for available seats.

"It really isn't right for an already selected candidate to be interfering with selections in this way," splutters one MP. "She's an A-list disaster in the making."

Bagshawe, who was selected last month, is one of Cameron's most high-profile A-list triumphs so far, with fellow big beasts Zac Goldsmith and Adam Rickitt hoping to find Tory associations willing to take them under their wing.

One parliamentary hopeful, currently not enjoying the benefit of Bagshawe's backing, adds: "What with the current backlash against A-listers among the associations, Bagshawe is actually doing people more harm than good when she supports them."

* There can be no more damning a judgement on the recently released Beatles album, Love, than from those untiring Fab Four-worshippers, the brothers Gallagher.

The pair cropped up at a Q&A session at the Curzon cinema in Mayfair, London, on Monday night to promote their new release, Stop The Clocks, but also took the time to dismiss the Beatles' offering as "rubbish".

It was a surprising reaction since the brothers' band, Oasis, have never hid their admiration for Britain's greatest pop export.

"The whole thing is a pointless exercise," said Noel. "I've tried listening to the album but ended up switching it off after five songs."

Even more surprising about Gallagher's assessment was that his volatile younger brother made a rare decision not to disagree with him.

Liam confessed the experience of listening to the record had left him "all Beatled out".

* Another day, and yet another Hollywood star attempts to reignite their lacklustre career by treading the boards in London's theatreland.

Don Johnson, best remembered for his long line in cream linen suits from the 1980s cop show Miami Vice, will arrive here in January to take up the role of Nathan Detroit in the current production of Guys and Dolls.

He will replace fellow Eighties heartthrob Patrick Swayze who is due to leave the musical before Christmas.

Although he made his name as an actor, I'm informed Johnson once enjoyed a spin-off musical career. He once released a sickly sweet love song with Barbra Streisand called "Till I Loved You".

* I trust the colourful Foreign Office minister Kim Howells packed extra underwear during his recent trip to Iraq.

Howells suffered a prickly ride out of Basra on Monday night, when the helicopter in which he was travelling began jerking sideways and making an unhealthy noise.

The pilot was forced into a perilous U-turn before returning back to base.

"There was an incident involving the helicopter in which Dr Howells was travelling," says a spokesman for the MoD. "As a precaution, the pilot returned to the air station to check for damage."

The scare meant Howells was forced to spend and extra night in Basra and couldn't leave until the following morning.

* Not for the first time, it appears to be open season on our beleaguered minister for Europe, Geoff Hoon. His opposite number, the Conservative spokesman for Europe, Graham Brady, has tabled a parliamentary question demanding to know the cost of a bright and shiny door plaque that Hoon recently ordered, which reads: Minister for Europe - Attending Cabinet.

Hoon, you see, lost his official cabinet rank during the last reshuffle but was allowed to continue sitting at the Prime Minister's top table, hence the amended title.

Tory MPs certainly seem to be having a jolly at Hoon's expense. Two weeks ago, Pandora reported the Tory foreign affairs spokesman, Keith Simpson, had asked the Foreign Secretary's office: "What is the point in Geoff Hoon?"

pandora@independent.co.uk

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