Ken defends Mao, and puts his foot in it ... again

It's been a few months since Ken Livingstone dropped a decent clanger, so thank goodness London's Mayor retains a deeply-held affection for the People's Republic of China.

Back in January, Ken used a visit to Beijing to defend the Communist regime's human rights record, comparing the Tiananmen Square massacre to poll tax riots in Trafalgar Square.

Yesterday, history repeated itself. During his weekly Mayoral Question Time at City Hall, Livingstone, right, decided to stick up for one of the last century's foremost dictators, Chairman Mao.

Asked about his attitude to regimes alleged to abuse human rights (the Tory questioner cited China and Venezuela) Ken claimed Mao's cultural revolution was "justified", because it improved chiropody.

"One thing that Chairman Mao did was to end the appalling foot binding of women," he announced. "That alone justifies the Mao Tse-tung era."

The comment met with disbelief from members of the London Assembly. They note that Jung Chang's recent book on Mao blames him for the deaths of seventy million people.

"At first, we thought it was just a flippant joke," says one. "But it soon became clear that Ken was being serious."

Last night, London Assembly Tories went on the offensive over the incident: "The fact that these outbursts are becoming more frequent and more outlandish should be of grave concern to all Londoners."

* I do hope that renewed efforts to resurrect the iconic Carry On series of films don't end in tears.

In Cannes on Tuesday, Victoria Silvstedt, left, was unveiled as the star of Carry on London, which is dues begin shooting this summer, once finance has been sorted out.

Readers may recall that a separate attempt to make COL collapsed chaotically in 2003, after producers ran out of money.

This version will be made by a different firm, Intandem Films. Its most recent accounts, filed in December, reveal losses of almost £500,000 in the previous financial year, leaving £472,000 in the bank.

However, a Carry On spokesman remains bullish. "The company's only been running a short while, and is still in a growth period," I'm told. "It's announcing another 12 projects in Cannes, so we're confident of getting financed."

* Kate Moss made headlines yesterday, when the BHS squillionaire Philip Green paid £60,000 at a charity auction to watch her "snog" Jemima Khan.

Away from the news pages, pictures of the occasion are causing controversy at Annabel's, the Mayfair boîte where it all took place.

Moss, you see, was wearing jeans for her bout of tonsil tennis, a clear breach of the strict Annabel's dress code.

"There's no way an ordinary member would get in wearing jeans," reckons a regular. "Looks like it's one rule for us, another for coke-head celebrities."

Not so, insists the club's spokesman, David Wynne-Morgan. "It was a private do, so the organisers made their own rules," he says. "Kate Moss [right] wouldn't be allowed in like that on an ordinary night."

* Another day, another set of thick heads for John Reid to bash together at the Home Office.

Yesterday, Reid's office announced a new "Tackling Drugs Changing Lives" awards bash: "The awards will be presented by Home Office Drugs minister, Vernon Coleman, and broadcaster Dermot Murnaghan," read its invite.

Unfortunately, our new Drugs minister is called Vernon Coaker. He's the one who has just owned up to smoking pot at university; Vernon Coleman is the well-known medical writer, sex guru, and former Sunday People columnist.

"Typical Home Office cock-up," reckons one guest. "They can't deport foreign criminals, can't find illegal immigrants, and now don't even know the name of their own dope-smoking Drugs minister."

Arses and elbows, anyone?

* For a good-looking man, Kevin Spacey is sweetly shy about the success (or otherwise) of his personal fitness regime.

Last week, the Hollywood star dined at Britain's smartest wine merchants, Berry Brothers & Rudd. "After dinner, in a tradition dating back to 1765, our chairman, Simon Berry, invited Kevin Spacey to climb on board our giant antique scales," reads a press release.

"His weight is now recorded alongside Laurence Olivier's, Lord Byron's and Vivien Leigh's, in a dusty annual on display in the St James's shop."

Unfortunately efforts to garner Spacey's vital statistics have proved unsuccessful. "We're not allowed to tell you how much Kevin weighed," says the store. "He doesn't want us to go into it. He's quite a private person."

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Recruitment Genius: HR Manager

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are in need of a HR Manage...

h2 Recruit Ltd: Business Development Manager - HR Consultancy - £65,000 OTE

£35000 - £40000 per annum + £65,000 OTE: h2 Recruit Ltd: London, Birmingham, M...

Day In a Page

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'