Kennedy in a quandary as Jenny puts the other foot in it

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The Independent Online

It centres around Lady Tonge, the former MP for Richmond who - back when she was plain Jenny - was sacked from Kennedy's front bench for saying of Palestinian suicide bombers: "If I had to live in that situation, I might just consider becoming one myself."

Although her comments caused outrage in the Jewish community, Tonge didn't learn a thing. She's now on the front page of the Jewish Chronicle for declaring that (despite recent events) she stands by what she said.

The brouhaha leaves Kennedy with a tricky choice: withdraw the whip from Tonge, or sacrifice chunks of the electorally-crucial Jewish vote.

Kennedy can't say he wasn't warned. For I can reveal that the Board of Deputies of British Jews met him after the election, and warned that elevating Tonge to the Upper House spelt trouble.

"It was a generally warm meeting, but Kennedy was left in no doubt about our concerns," says a member. "He ignored the advice and now chickens are coming home to roost."

* One of our foremost motor-racing legends, Sir Stirling Moss, is deeply unhappy with developments to his sport.

In a minor snub to Bernie Ecclestone, Moss decided to miss the recent British Grand Prix, because he reckons Formula One isn't interesting any more.

"I find the technology interesting but the racing isn't exciting like it used to be, so I don't really watch much of it any more," he tells me.

"The drivers might be skilful but we just don't know: they never get a chance to demonstrate it because so much is done for them by the cars. Any sense of adventure has been lost."

Elsewhere, Moss - speaking at an exhibition of photos of old Maseratis - is railing against another modern development.

"I'm going to be in a programme about the history of the Boy Scouts," he adds. "I used to be one. Now you never see them around. It's sad, and I don't think you'll ever see them coming back."

* It might have been painful to remove, but Siobhan Hewlett did pretty well out of the gaffer-tape G-string that she wore in her first nude role.

A few weeks back, I reported that the bubbly actress was presented with the improvised garment on the set of The Virgin Queen, a new BBC film about Elizabeth I.

Now I learn that my revelation helped Hewlett to secure the role of Araminta in a West End production of The Philanthropist. The hitherto-secret play stars one of our foremost tragedians, Simon Russell Beale.

"Your piece was seen by the casting people at the Donmar Warehouse, who Siobhan had met the week earlier," reports Hewlett's spokesman. "They rang to say they loved the article, and were very interested in Siobhan working for them."

Sadly, I gather that she'll be wearing traditional underwear in the play, which premieres in September.

* Michael Howard's Tories are starting to rue the day they hired a hard-nosed Australian, Lynton Crosby, to run their election campaign.

The no-nonsense, lager-drinking strategist - who invented the slogan "are you thinking what we're thinking?" - has decided to open a UK branch of his lobbying firm, CrosbyTextor.

One George Bridges will be managing director. Which is a shame for the Tories, because Bridges, the Chairman of the Conservative Research Department, has been headhunted from Central Office.

Crosby made enemies during the general election, and they aren't best pleased now.

"This shows exactly what Lynton was thinking," huffs one. "He was thinking 'I could make loads of money pinching the Conservative Party's best staff'."

* Contrary to reports, the long-running dispute - or rather, clash of egos - between Piers Morgan and David Yelland is alive and well. The former red-top editors shook hands at the Women in Journalism Awards, prompting one newspaper to claim they'd buried the hatchet, after a decade of public bickering. Thankfully, Morgan says hostilities are still on.

"What happened was this," he tells me. "I saw an extended hand, and shook it before realising it belonged to Yelland. "A bit later, someone came over and asked if I'd like to take things further and chat to him. I said no."

Asked why not, Morgan - who was speaking at the launch of iPod, Therefore I Am by Dylan Jones - says Yelland is one of his top three enemies (after Jeremy Clarkson and Ian Hislop), and won't be given up without a fight.