Labour MPs take up arms against 'prehistoric authorities'

According to regulations, former MPs who served 10 years in the Commons are presented with a pass that allows them access to facilities at Westminster without needing to go through the ever-increasing security precautions.

Historically speaking, that would be MPs who served two full five-year terms but, since 1997, there have been two elections in the space of eight years.

"The problem has arisen because Blair called two elections in a row after four years," I'm told. "So they've been denied the rights that they feel they ought to have."

Pandora understands that the Labour whips have taken up cudgels on behalf of the aggrieved and plan to discuss the matter with the Serjeant at Arms, Peter Grant Peterkin.

Yesterday, when Pandora called, no one was available to discuss the matter in the whips' office, and a spokesman for the Serjeant at Arms did not return calls.

However, one former Labour MP said: "It's a typical case of Labour fighting against the prehistoric authorities. They play everything so firmly by the book that our rights end up being ignored. We were the ones who served constituents for two terms."

* Spare a thought for Boy George who not only faces serious drugs charges in a New York courtroom but has also found himself homeless and losing work.

The pop star and gay icon, left, flew to London to escape the manic publicity he was receiving in the United States after police found a large amount of cocaine at his apartment.

But he's been reduced to living in a central London hotel, because he couldn't oust the tenants from the Hampstead house he owns.

"When he moved to New York, he arranged a lease with an American bank for the gothic pile in Hampstead," says a friend of the DJ. "And the banker who lives there is certainly not moving out just because Boy George has decided he wants his home back."

At the same time, he has lost a commission from the weekly New Statesman magazine. Sources there say that they were about to ask Boy George to pen an article about how to overcome public drug addiction, but have decided it would now be unwise.

* A decent potter he may be, but a style icon (except to very few) he ain't. So it is some surprise to hear that Grayson Perry has been photographed by David Bailey for the next edition of British Vogue.

"It's like climbing the steps of St Paul's Cathedral," says the underwhelmed transvestite.

"It's just something you have to do. I liked David - he's a fun guy to work with. But it was long, hard work."

Perry who was speaking at the opening party for the Frieze Art Fair, is also dismissive of this year's Turner Prize show.

"I suppose it's OK," he adds. "But most of the big names in British art have been through that now, so it's not exciting like it was." Perry himself won it in 2003.

* First we had Bryan Ferry's son, Otis, storming the House of Commons. Now, MPs can look forward to an onslaught from Jools Holland's stepson, Fred Lambton.

The young activist - the grandson of the former Tory minister Lord Lambton - is locked in a legal battle with Kensington and Chelsea council, which is demanding that he take down a banner he's draped across the front of his King's Road townhouse advertising the ills of supermarkets.

"That's just the start," he tells me. "The majority of our politicians are uninspiring, boring and uncaring about the world we live in. I've started my website, ethicalnetwork.org, which is a brilliant way to reach out to the world's activists.

"I'm planning all sorts of things and it's a great way to mobilise action. I also intend to go into politics in the next few years. There's a lot to be done."

* Is Prince Philip undergoing lessons in politesse? The Prince Consort has been out and about a lot recently without any of the faux pas for which he has become renowned.

Take his appearance, for example, at the recent ITV 50th anniversary celebrations. "He appeared only ever to have two things to say, and he'd choose depending on who he met," says an observer.

"These were either 'Good for you', when meeting the majority of people; or 'Let's not even go there,' when he was approaching more dangerous ground."

According to a Palace spokesman, Prince Philip is always interested to meet people and find out about their lives.

"He's been doing it for years and I don't think he needs any tutoring," I am told.

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