Kennedy issues red light to his MPs over 'Orange Book'

Click to follow
The Independent Online

* Don't be fooled by his cuddly image: there are times when Charles Kennedy is guilty of the sort of control freakery that would make even his New Labour opponents blush.

* Don't be fooled by his cuddly image: there are times when Charles Kennedy is guilty of the sort of control freakery that would make even his New Labour opponents blush.

Yesterday, Liberal Democrat MPs were ordered by their leader not to respond to inquiries about The Orange Book, a controversial collection of essays by various high-riding young members of their parliamentary party.

The book - which is edited by the Lib Dem Treasury spokesman, David Laws - has just been published, and (among other things) calls on the party to be pro-market, Eurosceptic, and to partially privatise the NHS. It was written by various "reformist" MPs, including Mark Oaten and Vincent Cable.

Not surprisingly, several Lib Dem backbenchers are furious at being silenced. They were paged with instructions that only the authors and Matthew Taylor, the party chairman, can comment on The Orange Book.

"It's annoying, as this book is going to be the biggest talking point in Liberal circles since Charles Kennedy's health problems," says one. "Some see it as an attempt by the young Turks to take over the party, and they are livid at being muzzled."

Asked to explain the decision to prevent MPs speaking about the book, a party spokesman says: "The point is that it is about the thoughts of a group of MPs, and doesn't reflect official party policy."

* WHEN THE supermodel Helena Christensen announced that she wanted to become a photographer, fashion industry cynics were quick to predict she'd never make it pay.

They'll be eating their words now, though. For the Danish beauty has won the contract to take the photos for Carlsberg Export's new multimillion-pound advertising campaign.

"This is, sort of, my first serious, grown-up job," she says. "I never really thought it would happen. I thought they'd pick someone way more technical, and more professional, because I don't see myself that way."

The campaign - to be called "Desirably Danish" - stars Vibe Sorensen, who is perhaps the second most famous model to come out of Christensen's Scandinavian homeland.

"I was lucky enough to take part in some amazing campaigns as a model, but this comes very close to my heart because it's so Danish," she says. "It's a pride thing."

* EMMA PARKER BOWLES, the niece of Camilla, has been deeply upset by a recent article in Tatler magazine, which revealed that she has a kitten tattooed on her bottom.

In fact, her buttock is adorned with a panther. It's a sloppy error, made worse by the fact that - despite being contributing editor of the upmarket glossy - EPB, above, wasn't consulted before the piece ran.

"I've had words with [the Tatler editor] Geordie Greig about it," she tells me. "I've barely been able to leave the house from embarrassment. The real point is that I had it done when I was 16, and I'd basically forgotten about it - I can't see it, after all."

Rumours - which EPB has yet to deny - suggest that she's asked for a salary increase, by way of compensation.

* DELIGHTED TO run into Michael Portillo at the launch of the Gramophone awards yesterday.

Last month, Pandora revealed that the debonair MP had charged "up to £5,000" to speak at a fundraiser for terminally ill children in his constituency.

He's yet to comment on the matter, and yesterday our conversation went as follows ...

Pandora: What did happen exactly?

MP: Don't know.

P: Do you remember the event?

MP: No comment.

P: Let's nail this once and for all.

MP: Very nice to meet you.

P: Can we talk about something else?

MP: Goodbye.

* Lord Byron will be turning in his grave: the model Emily Byron - daughter of the current Lord Byron, and a descendent of the 19th-century poet- has shrugged off her literary heritage.

"I'm studying English at Newcastle, but I haven't read much Byron," she tells me. "In fact, I did a creative writing module as part of the course, but I would never want my poetry published. It's a bit personal."

Instead, the aristocratic beauty, right - who was speaking at the launch of Ted Baker's new collection - earns an occasional shilling on the catwalk.

"I'm signed with Select - and it's going very well. But it's a part-time thing, and just a way to make some money," she adds.