Pandora: Mandy expands his territory even further

First Secretary of State, Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills and Lord President of the Council...
Pandora very much hopes that Baron Mandelson of Foy in the county of Herefordshire and Hartlepool in the county of Durham hasn't let his ever-lengthening collection of titles go to his head.

Reports from Westminster suggest that Brown's resilient confidant and new/old best friend (delete as appropriate) is expanding his ministerial empire into a veritable army of unelected officials.

As the dust settles on the Prime Minister's hastily-implemented reshuffle, it has emerged that the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills is to become home to a whopping 10 ministers, more than half of whom hold peerages, six of whom are ministers of state, though none of whom is a universally-adored prime-time BBC television hero (he's number 11.)

It's all rather surprising given Mandy's recently professed affections for electoral reform. It was bad enough when Charlie Falconer – never once elected to public office – ascended to the giddy heights of Lord Chancellor having been a former flatmate of Tony Blair. Plus ca change ...

Thandie tries a script of her own

Who knew? Thandie Newton can write as well as act. The multi-tasking actress is to follow in her husband Ol Parker's footsteps and pen a screenplay.

"It's a comedy feature film," she explained at the launch party for Martini's new tipple, Stay Beautiful.

"It's been really nice to do that, be at home, be around the kids. It's just a really nice lifestyle – I've been doing other, smaller jobs to supplement it and so on. Now I see why Ol's been doing it for so long, it's absolutely great."

Lords improves its pulling technique

Congratulations to those House of Lords heavies who, for the first time in eight years, managed to defy the odds and defeat the Commons in the annual Parliamentary Tug of War for Macmillan Cancer Support.

Watching from the sidelines, the Sunday Times's ebullient former editor offered one possible explanation for the rout: "They are probably just in a buoyant mood because they haven't got in trouble yet. But we'll be getting stuck into their expenses soon!"

That'll show 'em.

Dame Viv finds a new cause

Sobering words from Dame Vivienne Westwood, Pandora's absolute favourite pioneering fashionista.

The eccentric designer, long known for her gregarious ways, claims to have given up completely on London's credit-crunched party circuit in favour of more abstemious pursuits.

"I don't like parties at all anymore but I feel I must show my support every now and then," she says.

"The next thing I am going to do is to watch a film all about climate change. That is what I am all about now. Did you know that 7 out of 8 people will die from a catastrophe in the next 100 years? Something's got to be done."

Pandora couldn't agree more, Dame Viv.

Lewis's surprising appointment

Raised eyebrows in the Foreign Office, following the Prime Minister's "creative" reshuffle, over the appointment of Ivan Lewis as Foreign Office Minister with responsibility for the Middle East.

Lewis has a long history of interest in the region as vice-chair of the Labour Friends of Israel. Earlier this year, he became – not without controversy – one of the most outspoken political supporters of Israel's military assault on Gaza. Critics can't help but wonder how objective Lewis is likely to be in his new post.

pandora@independent.co.uk

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