Pandora: Conservative hopefuls tread on Fergie's turf

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The Independent Online

Any hapless footballer unfortunate enough to have endured the infamous "hairdryer treatment" dished out by Sir Alex Ferguson over the years would quickly support the theory that upsetting the short-fused Scot is rarely a wise move.

With the Manchester United boss having been an enthusiastic public supporter of the Labour Party for many a year, it seems safe to assume he would have been none too thrilled to witness the scenes that took place inside his beloved Old Trafford on Sunday.

For it has now emerged that the club's plush Stretford Suite played host to a lively gathering of Tory parliamentary candidates, organised by Tim Montgomerie, editor of the ConservativeHome website. Fellow revellers also included the frontbenchers Jeremy Hunt and Andrew Mitchell.

Montgomerie reveals that they even dared to take matters one step further, once safely inside the Ferguson fortress. "We went to the United dugout where Sir Alex normally sits," he tells me. "He would have loved the idea of that!"

While Fergie may not have approved, other members of the Manchester United family proved hospitable on the night, including former manager Wilf McGuinness. "He's a Margaret Thatcher fan and was presented with a bottle of whisky signed by her," Montgomerie adds.

Care for a tipple, Sir Alex?

Le Bon's the model from another age

She may have struck an enviable bargain with Father Time, but long-serving model Yasmin Le Bon, reveals she is regularly irritated by the ongoing curiosity surounding her precise age. Observers, it seems, are less than subtle in her presence. "I can actually see people trying to calculate my age when they find out my eldest child is 20," says Le Bon, who – since you ask – is 44.

Blackpool conjures ban on Daniels

News of a regrettable setback to the showbiz career of everyone's favourite miniature conjurer, Paul Daniels. The veteran entertainer has just been banned from performing in Blackpool by the town's all-powerful Magicians' Club, after reportedly dismissing the Lancashire seaside resort as "tasteless, tacky, bawdy and scruffy".

"We don't want him, he's a has-been," snaps a spokesman, adding ungenerously. "He's been doing the same electric hair routine for 40 years."

Floyd's meal ticket

*The demise of Keith Floyd has prompted a former employee to write off an historic debt. Steve Scott, the ITN presenter, says he worked as a building labourer at the chef's Bristol restaurant while a student. "Keith still owes me £200," he points out. "I don't mind in the least as I've lived off that particular IOU story for the past 20 years."

Tories are pickled

*With many a Tory MP no doubt intent on enjoying the hospitality on offer in Manchester for this week's conference, the party chairman, Eric Pickles, issued a cautionary missive to colleagues.

The well-lunched Yorskhireman helpfully warned via email: "Anybody can overnight become 'a top Tory' by saying something daft."

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