Welcome to the new Independent website. We hope you enjoy it and we value your feedback. Please contact us here.

Pandora: Labour maverick fires a parting shot

The Labour MP Ann Cryer's decision to stand down at the next general election has robbed the House of one its last true characters.

So it is somewhat apt that Cryer, an outspoken critic of forced marriages, should take a parting shot at some of her colleagues who, she says, are not doing enough to tackle the problem.

"There still is a nervousness to talk about this, especially those MPs in constituencies affected by these issues," she says.

"They should be fighting on the front line, but they are the ones keeping quiet on the issue because they don't want to lose votes.

"Some of the Muslim leaders in my area are doing their communities a disservice and trying to keep them in the backwoods. They don't seem to have any understanding about the importance of having integration and cohesion, or to promote women to leadership roles in the community.

Cryer, whose late husband Bob was also a Labour MP, says her decision to stand down was a particularly emotional one.

"When I told my party, I broke down and cried because I really didn't want to go," she adds. "But I know how I feel and how tired I get and couldn't cope with another general election campaign."

I'm only dancing, says Lisa

Natasha Kaplinsky and Kate Garraway have both (wrongly) been accused in the past of engaging in more than just the ch-cha-cha with their respective dance partners on the BBC's Strictly Come Dancing.

The most notable eye candy for the next series, the What Not To Wear presenter Lisa Snowdon, insists there'll be no such monkey business when she graces the show this autumn.

"I'll be far too exhausted to look for a boyfriend," she told Pandora recently. "I'll just be concentrating on the moves – the dancing I mean."

Leggy Snowdon is due to partner snake-hipped kiwi, Brendan Cole. I do hope his girlfriend, the British model Zoe Hobbs, has thick skin.

Thanks for nothing

The Grand Designs presenter Kevin McCloud caused ripples in the architectural world a few weeks ago, when it was revealed that his design firm had dumped its architects in favour of a company willing to work evenings and weekends for free.

It wasn't great timing. Next month, he's due to present the Stirling Prize, the prestigious gong awarded by the Royal Institute of British Architects. Although McCloud insists that he behaved honourably in a time of economic difficulty, he's dreading it.

"I'm only going to have to stand in front of 500 architects and say: 'Hello I'm the guy who apparently doesn't pay architects'," he says.

World champions

At long last, our footballers have won something. So congratulations to Stonewall Lions FC, the English side who won the gay football world championships over the weekend.

They thumped Safgay Argentina 5-0 in Saturday's fina, held at Leyton Orient's ground in east London.

It's the third time the Lions have been crowned world champs, after previously winning the competition in 2002 and 2006.

Smiley's teatowel

As our diplomatic relations with Russia once again turn glacial, the Victoria and Albert Museum is preparing to launch an exhibition on design during the Cold War.

The gift shop alone will certainly be worth a peep. Alongside exhibits which include an Apollo mission space suit, the V&A is planning to flog "a Cold War inspired range for both the home and wardrobe."


Cissé puts huntsmen off the scent

The return of Djibril Cissé – the French footballer who can also legitimately boast the title of Lord of the Manor – has been met with ambivalence by some of his neighbours.

The former Liverpool striker, who recently returned to England to sign for Sunderland, upset his local hunt when he moved to his stately pile in Frodsham, Cheshire, in 2004, by refusing to allow them to hunt on his land.

Although he moved back to France two years ago, the house was never sold and the ban has remained in place.

"I shouldn't imagine we'll have much more to do with him, to be honest," says one huntsman.

"I've heard he still owns the property, but I doubt he'll come back here too often – he used to be involved with a local girl, and he's not any more."