Pandora: It’ll be a scream: the Lib Dems bag Dean

It’s the Liberal Democrats’ greatest coup since Lembit Opik stepped out and pulled a Cheeky Girl.

The party have secured an appearance at their spring conference from Howard “The Scream” Dean, the former Democratic presidential candidate known for his bizarre outburst in 2004 on the Iowa hustings. Dean will address the party on Saturday 7 March at their get together in Bath.

Although never in the running to be named the Democrat nominee for last year’s race for the White House, Dean’s stock is still high in Washington. Since Tom Daschle withdrew from Barack Obama’s cabinet over tax problems, Dean has been mooted to replace him as Secretary of Health.

“We have a good relationship with his party,” a Lib Dem spokesman said. “We sent a few people out to the States during the last election to discuss campaigning, and so I think we secured his visit then.”

A harmony at Glyndebourne

Here’s news to excite regulars on the sprawling lawns at Glyndebourne.

Gus Christie, the Sussex opera house’s executive chairman and spiritual father, has become engaged to the American soprano Danielle de Niese. “They first met when Danielle played a rather sexy Cleopatra at Glyndebourne in Handel’s Giulio Cesare a few years back,” says one opera buff. “I suppose she’ll now be Lady of the Manor which might be interesting when she appears down there and has to be one of a company with all the other opera singers.”

Taverners duck Stanford scandal

The English cricket authorities aren’t the only ones having kittens over Allen Stanford’s recent arrest. It’s also causing headaches for the Lord’s Taverners. Last April, the charity (rather hastily) made the Texan billionaire an honorary member after he made a £50,000 donation.

Strictly speaking, if the charges stick, he should be out on his ear. When Jeffrey Archer was convicted of perjury in 2002, The Taverners promptly |expelled him. “We do have a stringent policy and we’ve noted the news with great sadness,” says a spokesman. “We’re not in a position at the moment to comment but he is a generous benefactor. We’ll have to wait and see.”

Freema takes on the ‘yoof’ problem

Freema Agyeman, the former Doctor Who sidekick and rising star of British television, has taken up the mantle on what to do with today’s wayward youth.

“I think all 16-year-olds should be forced into national service. Get them off fighting abroad,” she tells Pandora. “It’d give the wonderful youth of today some context and I think they’d be terrified into behaving. Some who show a real dedication to learning could be allowed to go on to higher or further education instead but generally every single child who drops out of school at 16 should be forced to join the Army.”

Agyeman’s next role is in the British remake of the US series Law & Order. Aptly, considering her comments, she’ll be playing a hard-nosed prosecutor.

Reeve and the KGB

As an expert on Islamist terror, Simon Reeve has found himself in contact with the upper echelons of al-Qa’ida. The presenter says his hairiest moment, however, came during a brush with the KGB. “Luckily, I’d told my guide that may claim to fame is my vague relation to Sir Christopher Wren, who apparently everyone in the Soviet Union learnt about in school,” he tells Lonely Planet. “So our guide turned up at the KGB offices, saying ‘What are you doing? He is a relative of the Queen of England. There will be huge trouble for our country’, and I was released. They even gave me a KGB cap as a souvenir.”

pandora@independent.co.uk

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