Pandora: Should Davis forget about his dream job?

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The Independent Online

David Cameron may have announced plans to promote his former leader Iain Duncan Smith, but there remain no such assurances for the party's long-serving henchman David Davis.

Just this week, the former Shadow Home Secretary was busy laying down the conditions regarding a future return to the political front line. "I don't want to be just an adornment," he helpfully explained. "If there's a proper job to be done, an issue to be dealt with, then, sure, of course."

Friends of Davis, who was facing uncharitable whispers of "midlife crisis" when he surprisingly quit his Shadow Cabinet post last year to trumpet civil liberties in a by-election, claim the former leadership contender's "dream job" is that of Foreign Secretary – a post seemingly unlikely to be troubling him any time soon.

Indeed, senior Cameroons were privately sprinkling cold water on Davis's comeback plans, following his pitch in Manchester this week. "When David stood down, he ended his chances of ever having a top Cabinet post," I was told yesterday. "His best hope is a decent ambassador's role abroad. That would stop him causing any trouble at home."

Bubbly reception for Pickles

As Pandora noted yesterday, the amiable Conservative chairman Eric Pickles is generally considered to have blotted his copybook, thanks to his ill-fated ban on champagne at this week's conference. So picture the scene on Wednesday when poor Pickles attended a plush local government reception where bubbly was in plentiful supply. While gossip was soon doing the rounds that he had succumbed to temptation, his spokesman hastily rejected such tittle-tattle. "Eric did not drink any champagne," he insisted yesterday.

Quo rocked by snub from Holland

Having already faced the flustered Culture Secretary Ben Bradshaw's accusations of bias this week, surely the BBC can ill afford to make any more powerful enemies?

Yet I hear those national treasures of dad rock, Status Quo, have now weighed in, claiming they've been cruelly blacklisted by BBC 2's Later... With Jools Holland. "I'd love to do it, but they won't have us," sighs the veteran axeman Rick Parfitt. "Perhaps we're not cool enough?"

His bandmate Francis Rossi adds: "It's a bit of a drag because Quo are primarily a live band.

"We'd love to go on and play loud."

Hold your head in shame, Mr Holland!

All the answers for Tory hopefuls

I feel duty-bound to report an instructive exchange overheard between a Tory "image consultant" and one young political hopeful in a Manchester bar this week. When asked for advice on how to become a parliamentary candidate, the "expert" carried out the briefest of inspections before telling the delegate: "a) get a suit that fits; b) lose two stone; c) buy a new pair of glasses; and d) stop looking sexually ambiguous. If you're gay, be gay. If you're straight, get a wedding ring."

Thompson grows older gracefully

Having recently reached her half-century, Emma Thompson assures us she won't be following in the footsteps of Hollywood rivals by battling the advancing years.

"Old is very sexy," says the Oscar-winning actress. "It must be awful for women who are in denial and insist on looking 20 years younger. How are we going to produce beautiful older women if we don't allow ourselves to be older?

"I think the trick is to age honestly and gracefully. Trying to constantly look younger must be exhausting."