Pandora: Leadership election takes a nasty turn for the Green Party

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The Independent Online

It's not just Gordon Brown who's having to deal with backbiting within his party. A major row is currently brewing which is threatening to split the Green Party in two.

For the first time in their history, the Greens are about to launch a leadership contest involving two candidates, the MEP Caroline Lucas and the actor Ashley Gunstock, best known for his role as PC Frank in the long-running ITV show The Bill.

In the lead-up to the contest, the party's operational wing, the Standing Orders Committee, took the unusual decision to publish the contact details of 7,000 members to help candidates lobby for votes.

The move has caused uproar in the party, which prides itself on its defence of civil liberties. More than 100 party members have signed an angry letter of protest, questioning the legality of the decision under the Data Protection Act.

Says one senior member: "This is a serious privacy and civil liberties issue. Once a few candidates have got the details, they could end up anywhere. Anyone could get their hands on them."

The decision has also divided the leadership candidates, with Gunstock firmly against the move.

"I don't like the idea and I certainly won't use the information," he said yesterday. "Hounding people into voting isn't the way forward."

Lucas and her supporters, however, are looking at it as a great opportunity for canvassing.

A spokesman says she's looking forward to making the most of the information to help with her campaign.

"They will try to reach as many candidates as possible," I'm told. "However she campaigns, that will be her aim."

Morrissey's Middle Eastern manoeuvre

Pandemonium in Tehran this week with news that the singer Chris de Burgh will be the first Western pop act to perform in Iran for 20 years.

But what of the plans of that other 80s crooner, Morrissey, to go on tour in the Axis of Evil?

A spokesman for the former Smiths frontman claimed in February that they were in negotiations with the Ayatollahs for a tour some time this year.

I'm told the plans are currently unconfirmed, so it looks as though De Burgh has beaten him to it.

If it does happen, Mozza might need to change his passport. He's currently playing in Israel, and according to my diplomatic expert, an Israeli stamp is likely to get you put on the first plane out of Tehran.

'X-Files' stars shun mortals

The committed anglophile Gillian Anderson is becoming suitably regal these days.

The flame-haired actress was in Leicester Square on Wednesday evening for the premiere of her new X-Files film, but haughtily chose not to speak to the waiting throng of press.

Her co-star David Duchovny wasn't too chatty either. Asked by one young hack whether he got asked about aliens much, he grunted: "Only by you kind of people."

In the US, the film is lagging behind The Dark Knight and Mamma Mia! Explains the hostility.

Barker joins the jet-set

David Cameron is currently enjoying a (relatively) low-key summer holiday, relaxing with his family in the Cornish town of Padstow.

His environmental spokesman Greg Barker isn't quite so modest. Earlier this week, a mole spotted Barker at The Hamptons, the Long Island playground for East Coast society's mega rich.

Barker, a former employee of Roman Abramovich's oil company Sibneft, was seen lounging at the ultra snooty Maidstone Club. Ain't life grand, as they don't say in Labour circles much these days.

Cracknell returns

The Crack is back. Just weeks after the former Sunday Times political editor David Cracknell quit as chairman of the lobbying firm FD-LLM, after just five months into the job, he's decided to launch his own venture, Big Tent Communications.

In the past, whenever Cracknell has taken up a new post, gossip columnists always bring up the old anecdote concerning his last day working on The Sunday Telegraph. But there'll be no mentioning here of that time he tried to hack into his colleague's computer and swipe his contacts.

Annabel goes from Ultravox to ultra-loud

After being married to the Ultravox keyboardist Midge Ure for five years, you might think that the former model-turned novelist Annabel Giles would have developed a fairly tolerant ear for questionable music.

Apparently not. These days, the former Mrs U has her children's music to contend with rather than her ex's.

"As I'm getting older, I'm becoming stereotypically intolerant of noise," she laments. "Especially my 10-year-old son's new-found love of rap, which seems to me to be all about men in vests shouting needlessly into microphones.

"He insists on turning the volume right up and feels the need to shout along, despite being unaware of the exact words or (thankfully) what they mean."