Pandora: Blears to get serious with former Blair babe

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The Independent Online

Safely assured of her spot as Salford's Labour candidate, Hazel Blears appears poised for reinvention.

The dinky former Cabinet minister, pictured, has agreed to appear at a Progress event next week, addressing the audience on "what women have to do to get taken seriously".

While less charitable souls than Pandora might suggest that Blears – one of Westminster's self-identified "WAGs," or Women Against Gordon – is at present best-placed to discuss what women have not to do to be taken seriously (ridicule one's boss, submit murky expenses claims, resign flamboyantly from one's job and then beg tearfully for forgiveness), we have no doubt Ms Blears will tackle the subject with characteristic, erm, aplomb.

One obstacle standing in her way, however, is the event's chair. Debate will be presided over by Oona King, the former member for Bethnal Green, "Blair babe" and an ardent defender of the Prime Minister's dealings with female politicians. In the wake of the resignations from Blears and Co she accused the WAGs of "holding women up to ridicule and contempt."

Wonder if Oona will let Hazel speak?

What? Glastonbury without Kate?

*If music plays in a field but Kate Moss doesn't hear it, is it still a festival? Sun-soaked revellers at this year's Glastonbury would surely say yes, for the mud-loving supermodel, pictured, and her hot pants were nowhere in sight, despite the insistence of several red-top newspapers that not only had she paid £3,000 for half a dozen VIP tickets, but had also arranged for Lily Allen to provide free drinks and would be hiring a personalised buggy to ferry her about. What a disappointment!

Missing: Naughtie and Humphrys

Further mysterious disappearances from Jeremy Lee Associates, the up-market after-dinner speaking agency favoured by moonlighting politicos. Not long ago, Andrew Marr vanished from their online brochure citing "a bit of a kerfuffle" at the BBC over commercial activities. Now James Naughtie and John Humphrys – able to collect £10,000 per appearance – have followed suit. Confusingly, though, their soon-to-be co-host Justin Webb has just joined, with a starting fee of £2,500. But how long will he last?

Dame Shirley gets down with the kids

Few more joyous comebacks have caught Pandora's attention than that of Dame Shirley Bassey.

The composer David Arnold tells us he has managed to persuade the singer to produce her first studio album in almost a decade, seemingly with an eye to netting a new, younger fan base. "There's a whole generation out there who've never sat in front of an amazing singer like her," explains Arnold. "Hopefully this will introduce that audience to her."

Perhaps Bassey should give Kanye West a call. The well-hooded hip hop star has famously sampled Bassey's voice – and has since said he'd love to work with her. What do you think, Shirls?

Hacks not amused as Palace pulls out

*Pandora would never dare accuse Her Majesty of trying to bury bad news (though the death of the World's Most Famous Man does seem likely to distract from the £1.5m increase in what she costs the taxpayer). What we cannot fathom, though, is why Buck House decided to cancel, at the eleventh hour, their annual press conference on the subject, which was due to go ahead yesterday? "There was nothing new to report," says a spokesperson. Nothing but £1.5m, of course.