Pandora: Benn suspicious about tales of 'bully' Brown

With spinning supremo Max Clifford newly recruited to represent Christine Pratt, expect the now-notorious National Bullying Helpline boss to start fighting her corner soon.

In the meantime, the Government PR machine is firing both barrels to quash her (and Andrew Rawnsley's) suggestions of prime ministerial strong-arm tactics.

One person who claims not to recognise claims of bullying behaviour from Gordon Brown is Labour veteran Tony Benn – someone who is not, it should be noted, averse to criticising the party when the time is right.

"I think the whole story is politically motivated," reflected Benn at yesterday's Oldie literary lunch. "I'm very suspicious of it. I've met Gordon Brown on a number of occasions and he's always very friendly. There is constant pressure – I would be more surprised if he didn't get angry sometimes. I think the election is still very much in the balance."

No doubt Number 10 will be grateful of the defence – though, before they get too excited, it's not an entirely clean bill of health from Benn.

"Something I have become very worried about is the prospect of war in Iran. If there is one, I will definitely be protesting."

Speakers steer clear of drama

Michael Martin had the dubious honour of dramatic representation last night, in the BBC4 drama On Expenses (friends have been heard muttering concerns of a "stitch up" from the programme, which chronicled Heather Brooke's attempts to uncover details of MPs' expenses). The rotund former speaker declined to return Pandora's calls enquiring as to whether he would be watching. His successor, John Bercow, definitely wasn't: he was to be found in his chair. A spokesman claimed he wouldn't be recording it. Pity!

Corden keen to push charity credentials

James Corden wants to clear something up. His much-publicised new girlfriend, Julia Carey, is just like you and me.

"Everyone keeps saying she's a TV producer!" exclaims the indignant comedian. "She is a PR for Save the Children – not a producer. She's from outside the industry. That's what I like about her. She doesn't even like the industry very much. Tonight we're going straight home to bed." No need to boast.

MPs revel in their musical youth

It's back! The line up for Parliament's variety show in aid of Macmillan Cancer Support has been announced. Delightfully, it will feature seasoned performer Stephen Pound, who was forced to cancel his mooted hotpant-clad Cheeky Girl impersonation last year owing to a constituency engagement. This time he will team up with Commons wallflower Lembit Opik and Nigel Evans for a rendition of "The Laughing Policeman". Fellow performers, the House's resident rockband MP4, are said to be eyeing the competition.

Doth the lady protest too much?

"I still get really nervous when I have to go down the catwalk," complained the statuesque model Erin O'Connor at Evian's Baftas after-party. "The other day at Fashion for Relief I was sandwiched right in between Geri Halliwell and Ronnie Corbett."

It is not, dare we say, the most daunting of runway line-ups for a Vogue cover girl and London Fashion Week veteran. Perhaps she was being rather too modest? "But they are both such huge characters – even if they are, erm... small." Indeed.

pandora@independent.co.uk

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

Geography Teacher

£85 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Cheshire: We require a teacher of Geogr...

HR Assistant / Human Resources Assistant

£Neg + Excellent Benefits: Guru Careers: An HR Assistant / Human Resources Ass...

Talent Community Coordinator

£Neg + Excellent Benefits: Guru Careers: A Talent Community Coordinator is nee...

Business Support - Banking - Halifax - £250 pd

£150 - £250 per day: Orgtel: HR Analyst - Banking - HR - Halifax - £150 - £250...

Day In a Page

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on
Edinburgh Fringe 2014: The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee

Edinburgh Fringe 2014

The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee
Evan Davis: The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing to take over at Newsnight

The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing

What will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Finding the names for America’s shame: What happens to the immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert?

Finding the names for America’s shame

The immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert
Inside a church for Born Again Christians: Speaking to God in a Manchester multiplex

Inside a church for Born Again Christians

As Britain's Anglican church struggles to establish its modern identity, one branch of Christianity is booming
Rihanna, Kim Kardashian and me: How Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Parisian couturier Pierre Balmain made his name dressing the mid-century jet set. Today, Olivier Rousteing – heir to the house Pierre built – is celebrating their 21st-century equivalents. The result? Nothing short of Balmania
Cancer, cardiac arrest, HIV and homelessness - and he's only 39

Incredible survival story of David Tovey

Tovey went from cooking for the Queen to rifling through bins for his supper. His is a startling story of endurance against the odds – and of a social safety net failing at every turn
Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride