It's his party, and he'll ruffle a few feathers if he wants to
Monday 31 October 2005
The bash, which is to be held at the Banqueting Hall on Whitehall on 28 November, is to be attended by a selection of Conservative grandees, with the rest of the tickets going to party members on a first-come, first-served basis.
In part a good way for Howard to say goodbye to his closest supporters, this has also been necessitated by the lack of sponsorship for the evening.
"It has been arranged by the party itself," says a spokesman. "There is indeed no corporate sponsor for the event, but tickets are selling well to members."
But even if the Tories' traditional sponsors have washed their hands of Michael Howard already, the outgoing leader is expected to ruffle a few feathers with his final speech.
"Michael's support for David Cameron over David Davis is not much of a secret," says a party source. "And it's not as though he is going to come out and say anything before all the votes have been counted. But we're expecting a fairly firm statement on the direction he wants the party to go."
Both leadership candidates have been invited to attend, but neither would commit to showing up when Pandora called yesterday.
* As the business partner of the magazine publisher Jefferson Hack, the photographer Rankin is the epitome of young, urban cool.
Not content with photography and his creative work on Hack's magazines, Rankin is currently directing his first full-length feature film, The Lives of the Saints. But it is a film with a difference: funding for the project, which has cost £1m, comes from a denim manufacturer called Meltin' Pot.
"The film was born out of a humble idea from the company's MD, Augusto Romano," says a spokesman. "The spring/summer 06 range of clothing from Meltin' Pot was introduced into the wardrobes of four key characters. The brand's entire marketing strategy will support the film, including an international print and billboard campaign and a European cinema ad, also directed by Rankin."
The film is set in London's Turkish community and, fittingly for a 90-minute advertisement, "is centred around human lust for greed and power."
* Francesca Annis has taken a swipe at the self-importance of Hollywood movie stars. The actress, who is currently starring in the West End whilst her husband, Ralph Fiennes, is filming in United States with stars such as Susan Sarandon, says:
"In England there is an acceptance that 'celebrities' aren't that different. They're just the same as everyone else. In America, I think they are seen as a different breed, a sort of untouchable people.
"I remember meeting Tom Hanks one time, and he was so concerned with the security of it. He said we couldn't meet in a theatre bar, but should go somewhere more private. Then we got there, and there were only two other people in the whole place. There was certainly no danger of getting mobbed at all!"
* Another embarrassing exposé of the relationship between our Prime Minister and his Chancellor is in the offing. And this one looks like it might have some authority.
Contrary to reports elsewhere, the playwright and theatre reviewer Toby Young is still working on his drama based on Tony Blair's relationship with Gordon Brown. But rather than a stage play, he intends to produce it as an animated television show.
Pandora spotted Young approaching Derek Draper, once a New Labour supremo and confidant of Peter Mandelson, at Peter York's book launch last week.
"I was wondering whether you'd be interested in taking the role of advisor on the project," Young asked. "I'm in talks with ITV1 about it now, and they seem keen."
Draper, too, seems keen.
* Here's a scary Hallowe'en metaphor from the Labour MP Harry Cohen, who fears that his esteemed colleague, the Health Secretary, Patricia Hewitt, has spawned an alien.
At a recent Parliamentary Labour Party meeting to discuss plans for the NHS, Mr Cohen made a speech criticising planned health service reforms.
"It was a stormy meeting," he tells me. "And I warned that the creeping privitisation we are risking could be like something from the film Alien - something pretty unpleasant coming from the stomach of the NHS."
Hewitt responded, apparently, with a sickly smile.
"She doesn't look much like Sigourney Weaver [the film's star] to me," adds Cohen.
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