Pandora: Potter magic given the brush-off by Lib Dems

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The Independent Online

As celebrity endorsements to political parties go, Daniel Radcliffe's declaration of loyalty to the Liberal Democrats appeared, on first impressions at least, to be a useful one.

Just last week the amiable Harry Potter star nailed his colours to the mast when he publicly expressed admiration for Nick Clegg, and insisted that he would be voting Lib Dem at the next election. The actor even helpfully stuck the boot into both Gordon Brown and David Cameron in the process, dismissing the latter as "barely distinguishable from Tony Blair".

In the hope that the Lib Dem spin machine might be ready to cynically leap into action to give this story legs – and, let's face it, curry further favour with all those young Potter addicts who have finally reached voting age – I contacted their Cowley Street HQ in what proved to be an ill-fated bid to muster some enthusiasm for the young wizard.

Would he be invited to do a star turn at this year's party conference, I optimistically enquired? "We are not actually doing anything at the moment to follow up on this story," a spokeswoman politely informed me. "Nick may have sent him a letter to thank him. It's not something we will be pursuing."

Still, who needs new celebrity backers when you have Lembit Opik in the ranks?

Labour gets a chance to hit back

They may be licking their wounds following last week's pummelling at the Norwich North by-election, but Labour Party employees are already under orders to strike a revenge blow. A memo has been sent to staff insisting that they put up sterner resistance at the forthcoming inter-party rounders contest in Hyde Park, London. "Last year the Tories snatched the title from the three-times champions, the Liberal Democrats, and also won a clean sweep with Man of the Match and Best Picnic," the missive states. "We need to practise!"

Nighy used as guinea pig

Purists would no doubt suggest that voicing an animated film about guinea pig secret agents doesn't mark an artistic high point for the considerably talented Bill Nighy.

The man himself begs to differ when talking up his latest release, the Disney adventure G-Force.

"It's the first guinea pig movie the world has ever known, so I'm proud to be at the birth of a genre," he declares, adding: "If G-Force takes any money at all you might as well get used to the idea because I figure there'll be G-Force 1, 2 and at least 3."

No truce between Cameron and Fox

While David Cameron has been keen to bang the drum for extra military funding of late, it seems there is little sign of an end to the cold war with his Shadow Defence Secretary, Liam Fox. Relations between the pair have long been strained – the bad blood evidently goes back to 2005 when both men were standing for the party leadership. "There's certainly been no détente, things still aren't great between them," a well-placed party insider assures me. "David tolerates Liam because of his popularity with the party membership."

Flanders gets one up on Peston

Following her return to duty at the BBC after maternity leave, much was made of the fact that economics editor Stephanie Flanders had suddenly found herself playing second fiddle to credit-crunch poster boy Robert Peston. Having endured repeated comparisons to her more high-profile colleague, Flanders' own stock now appears to be on the rise: it has been confirmed that she will make her presenter's debut on the Beeb's flagship current affairs show Sunday AM this weekend, filling in for Andrew Marr.