Whoops! Looks like Daniel Hannan has gone off-message again. The Conservatives' performing monkey – a Pandora regular thanks to his flamboyant haranguing of the Prime Minister – ran into trouble several months ago after launching a stinging attack on the NHS for "making people iller".
His remarks, which sat somewhat awkwardly alongside David Cameron's claim that his priority was "three letters: NHS", caused more than a few red faces over at Tory HQ, with press officers rushing to condemn the views.
Now, however, it seems the mischievous MEP is at it again. We hear that he has used his holiday to fly over to the US, where he is lending his support to Republican efforts at halting President Barack Obama's health-care reforms.
"Can I tell you horror stories about elderly people kind of left starving in wards?" he challenged one TV pundit. "Why do we put up with it?"
Hannan is in lofty company indeed: he joins that esteemed thinker Sarah Palin in his outrage. The glossy former governor of Alaska recently referred to the President's plans for reform as akin to creating "death squads". Goodness – whatever would Dave say?
Blears and Mackinlay limber up
*With so many MPs vacating their seats, the Beeb should have no problem finding Strictly Come Dancing's next John Sergeant. One potential candidate is Andrew Mackinlay, outgoing Labour maverick (his wife agrees; she thinks it would be good for his health) – but what about the charms of Hazel Blears, who seems less and less likely to return to Parliament? A member of the Division Belles tap troupe, Blears was last seen impressing with an acrobatic interpretation of the "Chattanooga Choo Choo". Could it be her second coming?
Amber has second thoughts
*Further news of Amber Le Bon's plans to launch her own jewellery range. It seems the idea has given the young model – and daughter of Duran Duran singer Simon – cause to reconsider her decision not to go to university. "You have to take every opportunity you can," Amber tells us. "I have loads of designs on paper and there is a really good jewellery course at Central Saint Martins. A friend of mine has just graduated from there, so I may look into that."
Barbara brings the chips to town
*Hats off to Barbara Taylor Bradford. We're told that the best-selling novelist was recently engaged in a gruelling day of interviews at London's swish Dorchester Hotel, when she noticed the clock had struck one and none of the assembled press had had any lunch. Instead of whisking herself off for a five-star meal, she ordered rounds of fish and chips (with "brown, not malt" vinegar) for everyone present. As they say, you can take the lass out of Yorkshire...
Emily gets her Hollywood crown
*Congratulations to Emily Blunt who, after much wrangling on the production company's part, will finally be able to take her film, The Young Victoria, to Hollywood. The actress has faced a series of setbacks with the project, which was released in the UK several months ago and, until recently, had failed to find an American distributor. Happily, we're assured the problem is no more: audiences will be able to see Blunt in full regalia from November. "It took a lot of to-ing and fro-ing," says one source.