Pandora: Industrial unrest at the 'New Statesman'

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The Independent Online

There is trouble brewing over at the New Statesman, after news that two of its high-profile editors are facing redundancy.

According to reports earlier this week, the left-leaning magazine's associate editor, Barbara Gunnell, and its literary editor, Ian Irvine, could both see their positions scrapped as part of a cost-cutting exercise.

Adding insult to injury, however, the magazine's management is also continuing to refuse recognition for the National Union of Journalists. In the past, it has repeatedly declined to give the chapel voluntary recognition.

Sources at the "Staggers" reckon it is a fairly astonishing position for the executives to take, not just because of the magazine's long association with socialist politics, but also because it is partly owned by Geoffrey Robinson, the Labour MP for Coventry North-West and close chum of Gordon Brown, who is reputed to have a fortune of £30m.

The NUJ, meanwhile, says it will push for statutory recognition. "Given the editorial stance of the publication, we were astounded by [its] response," says a spokesman for the NUJ national magazines department. "We will now start the statutory procedure to gain recognition, which we are confident of winning because we have more than 90 per cent union membership in our proposed bargaining unit."

Last night, a spokesman for the New Statesman was unavailable for comment.

Thompson joins green ink army

As she approaches her 50th birthday, Emma Thompson shows no sign of losing any of her pluck.

Yesterday, it was revealed that the Oscar-winning actress was among the eco-friendly celebrities who have bought up land earmarked for the proposed third runway at Heathrow Airport.

Now Thompson has revealed she is also a fully-paid-up member of the green ink brigade. Last year, she penned a furious note to the then London mayor, Ken Livingstone, to complain about an advertisement on the side of a bus which bore an image of a topless woman.

"I find it offensive and I don't care who knows it," she says. "I said: "Take those images off. It's a bus."

Also on Thompson's hit-list are the producers of the recent adaptation of Brideshead Revisted, who, although it was denied when Pandora enquired at the time, allegedly encouraged her co-star Hayley Atwell to lose weight for her role. "I went absolutely ballistic," adds Thompson, crossly. "She didn't need to lose weight, and it upset her deeply. It was an evil thing to do."

Woody flaunts his specs appeal

Woody Allen admits that he was "totally captivated" on first meeting his muse Scarlett Johansson, but the 73-year-old director appears equally fond of her recent co-star, Penelope Cruz. After they both appeared in Allen's latest film Vicky Christina Barcelona, the Spanish bombshell was given a pair of the celebrated auteur's trademark NHS-style specs.

"Actually I got a souvenir. I got his glasses as a present," says the actress, 34. "And it's my treasure. I love those glasses. He only has two pairs and he gave me one pair."

Cruz's disclosure comes in this month's Total Film. I hope Allen's formidable wife Soon-Yi took the gesture in good spirits.

'Big Brother' guru's first customer?

Judi James, the in-house body language expert on Channel 4's bafflingly enduring reality television show Big Brother, has released a new self-help book just in time for the recession. Called You're Hired! Interview Techniques And Tips, the tome excitedly promises to help readers "perform brilliantly to get the job [they] want". Curiously, the book's publicist appears to have vanished into thin air. "She has left the company," comes the stony response when I call yesterday. I hope she remembered to take a copy of the book with her.

A cold reception at Clarence House

Following his mother's request that the Royal Family reins in the purse strings in these times of hardship, Prince Charles has adopted a frugal attitude towards heating. I owe this nugget to Charlie Mullins, millionaire founder of Pimlico Plumbers, who attended a Prince's Trust lunch at Clarence House on Monday.

"The place was freezing," he tells me. "I took the Prince's private secretary aside and told him I could get a plumber round within the hour to get the boiler going again."

These bags are a National treasure

David Cameron's wife Samantha has paid a touching tribute to her great-grandmother, the novelist Enid Bagnold. Smythsons, the upmarket stationer where Cameron is creative director, has launched a range of bags called the Enid for its spring-summer collection. Bagnold is best known for her horse-racing weepie National Velvet.

pandora@independent.co.uk

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