Pandora: Lembit's loyalty looks likely to be rewarded

While senior colleagues have so far steered clear of Lembit Opik's bid for the Liberal Democrat presidency, I hear that his loyalty to his former leader, Charles Kennedy, is now finally paying off.

Opponents have been quick to claim that the flamboyant Montgomeryshire MP, right, has lacked any "big-name" endorsements for his campaign, compared to his main rival Baroness Scott, who counts Vince Cable and Chris Huhne among her backers.

Kennedy has kept his distance from internal party elections since his removal in 2006. However, Opik is now widely seen to have received the Scot's informal backing, via his brother-in-law James Gurling. "I am backing Lembit because loyalty counts," says Gurling, the brother of Sarah Kennedy, who was also Chatshow Charlie's leadership election agent. "When Charles left the leadership Lembit was loyal to him and to the party. At a bad time for the party, Lembit spoke with compassion and honesty."

Opik launched a one-man crusade to save Kennedy when the leadership crisis unfolded in 2006, and made television appeals to dissuade colleagues from wielding the knife. Opik was uncharacteristically tight-lipped when I called: "I can't really comment on this," he said. "I'm getting support from all levels of the party."

Bond's Vesper turns to religion

Sartorial standards slip as Letwin joins Oxford debate

Collins fights against foie gras

Free newspaper war turns litigious

Heavy metal date for Mrs Brown

Channel 4 holds out for a hero

After her turn as the doomed Bond girl Vesper Lynd in Casino Royale, Eva Green has given our flagging film industry a further boost by appearing in the British-backed religious thriller Franklyn.

It was an interesting choice of flick to work on, since Green tells me its subject matter was hardly close to her heart.

"No, I'm not religious," the French actress told me at the film's premiere at the London Film Festival. "Not at all. It doesn't worry me though, the idea of a religious backlash,"

According to reports, Daniel Craig spends most of the new Bond film, Quantum Of Solace, moping about after Vesper. Is all the hype surrounding the movie making her nostalgic?

"I'm looking forward to watching it but, er, no, not really," added the 28-year-old, diplomatically.

THE Plummy-voiced Tory MP Oliver Letwin is one of the grander members of the House of Commons, so it was surprising that he should turn up at the Oxford Union woefully under-dressed last week. Letwin (who went to Cambridge) was invited to debate the motion "this house has no confidence in Her Majesty's Government." While his colleague Eric Pickles and Labour MP John Denham took the trouble to wear dinner jackets – as is the norm at the OU – Letwin opted to dress down in a lounge suit.

"I have no ideological objection to evening dress at all. I am told that the Prime Minister does but I do not," he told the audience. "It is simply because I went to a more modern institution than this – a forward-looking place in the Fens rather than this ancient, archaic place. In fact I didn't realise there was a debating society in the country that still wore evening dress. But the Conservative Party is modernising, so maybe you can too."

Phil Collins is following in Sir Roger Moore's Gucci-loafered footsteps by devoting his tea-time years to fighting for animal rights.

The drummer has teamed up with the animal welfare group, Peta, to pen a letter to Selfridges, demanding that it stops stocking foie gras. "As you can imagine, the scientific consensus has to be very strong for a country to ban the production of something but, indeed, foie gras production really is that cruel," Collins writes. "Won't you please dissociate Selfridges from this cruel industry that is opposed by about two-thirds of Britons. Selfridges' reputation is being dragged into the mud, which is tragic and is not something you should allow to happen."

Strong stuff, though Collins has always preferred the written word to get his message across. In August, he was told to pay his third wife Orianne £25m after he allegedly dumped her by fax.

A new war has opened up in the battle between London's free newspapers – and this latest skirmish doesn't involve Rupert Murdoch.

London Lite, the freebie owned by Associated Newspapers, is threatening legal action against a jovial free newsletter called London Shite, which it claims is unfairly using its logo. After some initial resistance, the team behind the satirical publication are thought to be backing down. They are now considering relaunching the title under an even more scurrilous masthead.

While her husband grapples with the country's economic gloom, Sarah Brown has chosen an unlikely event to continue her charm offensive.

Tomorrow night, Mrs Brown is due to attend the London Film Festival for the premiere of Anvil! The Story of Anvil – a documentary about a Canadian heavy metal band.

Why she is so keen to see it is anyone's guess, although I notice that it is directed by the English screenwriter Sacha Gervasi, hitherto best known for fathering Geri Halliwell's daughter Bluebell.

Channel 4 apparently hopes to cash in on the success of the BBC's popular import Heroes by making its own version of the hit US show.

In the Channel 4 programme, The Misfits, it is rumoured that the show's protagonists will be a group of teenagers from London who – please let it happen! – are all in possession of an Asbo.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Recruitment Genius: HR Manager

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are in need of a HR Manage...

h2 Recruit Ltd: Business Development Manager - HR Consultancy - £65,000 OTE

£35000 - £40000 per annum + £65,000 OTE: h2 Recruit Ltd: London, Birmingham, M...

Day In a Page

War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

The West needs more than a White Knight

Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

The stories that defined 2014

From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?
Finally, a diet that works: Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced

Finally, a diet that works

Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced
Say it with... lyrics: The power of song was never greater, according to our internet searches

Say it with... lyrics

The power of song was never greater, according to our internet searches
Professor Danielle George: On a mission to bring back the art of 'thinkering'

The joys of 'thinkering'

Professor Danielle George on why we have to nurture tomorrow's scientists today
Monique Roffey: The author on father figures, the nation's narcissism and New Year reflections

Monique Roffey interview

The author on father figures, the nation's narcissism and New Year reflections
Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

Their outrageousness and originality makes the world a bit more interesting, says Ellen E Jones
DJ Taylor: Good taste? It's all a matter of timing...

Good taste? It's all a matter of timing...

It has been hard to form generally accepted cultural standards since the middle of the 19th century – and the disintegration is only going to accelerate, says DJ Taylor
Olivia Jacobs & Ben Caplan: 'Ben thought the play was called 'Christian Love'. It was 'Christie in Love' - about a necrophiliac serial killer'

How we met

Olivia Jacobs and Ben Caplan
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's breakfasts will revitalise you in time for the New Year

Bill Granger's healthy breakfasts

Our chef's healthy recipes are perfect if you've overindulged during the festive season
Transfer guide: From Arsenal to West Ham - what does your club need in the January transfer window?

Who does your club need in the transfer window?

Most Premier League sides are after a striker, but here's a full run down of the ins and outs that could happen over the next month
The Last Word: From aliens at FA to yak’s milk in the Tour, here’s to 2015

Michael Calvin's Last Word

From aliens at FA to yak’s milk in the Tour, here’s to 2015