Pandora: 'Pumping party' plans for Tory conference

David Cameron has nailed his colours firmly to the middle-of-the-road mast, confessing a love for crowd-pleasing guitar band The Killers. Meanwhile, the party core's affection for Tony Hadley is already well documented (so fond are they of the paunchy crooner that they invited him to perform at last year's party conference gala dinner).

But, for those in search of slightly edgier entertainment at this year's conference, good news: Pandora hears that organisers have enlisted the help of Angie Brown, soul singer and early-Nineties club sensation. (Remember? "Yo DJ Pump This Party"?)

Brown has agreed to provide the headline entertainment for the party's new Gay Pride event at Manchester's Spirit Bar, part of the city's famous Gay Village. For just £10, guests will be able to listen to Brown's warblings, whilst sipping a complimentary cocktail on one of two dance floors ("funky house" or pop).

Also taking to the stage will be Conservative blogger Iain Dale, the party's vice-chair Margot James, and shadow equalities minister, Theresa May.

Department's sign of the times

It seems mortgages aren't the only thing MPs enjoy billing us for. When the Department for Communities and Local Government – former fiefdom of Hazel Blears – was set up, top of the agenda was the commissioning of a new logo (a veritable work of art, it featured its name in bold type, a snip at £3,830). But then, months later, it was decided that the department needed another logo, newly released figures show. Thus was born the dotty green design it uses today, at an additional £24,764.99. Bargain!

Second time around for Blake?

There is hope, after all, for the classical boyband Blake. The plummy crooners were cast adrift earlier this year after an unfortunate parting of ways with Universal Records, but now the boys tell us that things are looking up. "EMI have just come along and offered to back us, which is great," enthused virtuoso Stephen at the Sanctum Soho's summer roof party. "So we're still on an independent label, but with their backing. Apparently it's the first time this kind of thing has been tried in the UK." Now they're back in the big league, the foursome are to attempt to break America with an autumn tour.

"We're to play at the Angel Hall gala. I think Rihanna and Lady Gaga are doing it too. We're thrilled."

Quick step to pool for John Sergeant

As the line-up for the next series of Strictly Come Dancing is announced, what, we wonder, are the tips of John Sergeant for a slimline new you? Not, in fact, hitting the local dance floor, but rather the leisure centre.

"There is absolutely no way he is still dancing," confides his former waltzing partner, Kristina Rihanoff. "He lost 30lbs while we were dancing together, but now he works out. He told me he likes to go swimming with his brother to keep the weight off."

Branson backs 'Sir' Freddie

Richard Branson has thrown his weight behind those campaigning for a knighthood for Freddie Flintoff. The shaggy tycoon courted controversy before the Test series by beaming a good luck message to the England side on to the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Now, says Branson, whose Fifty50 initiative is to donate £20,000 to charity to celebrate the Ashes win, it's time for Freddie to become a Sir. "I was so proud of the boys," he says. "It was a sterling performance. There's now just one thing to round off the series – arise Sir Freddie."

pandora@independent.co.uk

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