Pandora: Split loyalties for Timpson as daddy takes on Tories

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The Independent Online

Pity Commons new boy Edward Timpson who, only weeks into his job, is having to toe the party line at the risk of incurring familial wrath.

The Tory MP has been seen thus far as the party's golden boy; what with trouncing Labour in the Crewe and Nantwich by-election and batting off all those unseemly "toff" jibes, he has proven himself to be quite the hero.

But now he finds himself at the centre of an unfortunate scrap between Tory colleagues and his father's firm. The tussle follows a decision by Timpson senior, boss of a nationwide key-cutting chain, to lobby publicly for the introduction of a Manchester congestion charge.

The Tories, however, couldn't be less keen; local MPs and Conservative-run councils have uniformlyopposed the measure, convinced that the scheme doesn't add up.

The party spokesman is all diplomacy: "Edward is a member of Parliament for Crewe and Nantwich," he insists. "He represents the people who live there – not the board at Timpson. He feels the Government and Manchester City Council have further questions to answer regarding the proposed congestion charge.

"He is aware other people have formed different views, including Timpson Ltd, for whom he is a consultant."

While glad to see that Timpson isn't letting family come before business (or business before politics), one party official acknowledges: "I don't think Edward expected to be taking a stand against his own family just weeks into the job."

Hoult tries to play it cool with his mother

Poor Nicholas Hoult. He may only be 18 but one would think his mother could cut him some slack – at least when it comes to attending premieres.

Alas the actor was given no such respite at the Tuesday night screening of Noel Clarke's Adulthood. Flanked by mother and sister, he maintained a brave – if slightly red – face as Mrs Hoult did her best to boost his career.

Spotting Clarke across the room, she sidled up to the director and suggested he give her son some work, appearing not a little put out when Clarke responded with a non- committal, "Yeah, we'll see."

Hasn't she seen Skins? Her son's supposed to be cool.

It's not as though Hoult is resting on his laurels, having just finished filming a BBC adaptation of the Wallander detective series. "It's going to be great," he gushed. "I play a criminal – well, sort of – and Kenneth Branagh plays the detective."

In spite of his mother's efforts, Hoult remains undecided as to what's next. "Maybe a play. I'd like to see what happens."

This charming man

Morrissey's sex life is clearly no laughing matter. Singer Kristeen Young learnt the hard way last year, when she was abruptly fired from his tour for an on-stage quip that the former Smiths frontman "gives good head".

Usually one to hold on to his feuds – he's currently locked in a legal dispute with the NME – the Mancunian miserablist has proven exceptionally forgiving this time, surprising Young by offering her a support slot at next month's Wireless Festival. Rumour has it that more dates are to follow.

More significant, of course, is the news that he's now returned to the number one spot on Young's MySpace friends list.

Tricky encounters

Andy Burnham was left grovelling last night following remarks made to Progress magazine in which the cabinet minister painted a colourful picture of the relationship between David Davis and Liberty director Shami Chakrabarti. In a crass attempt to belittle the Tory MP's surprise opposition to "42-days", he questioned Davis' "having late-night, hand-wringing, heart-melting phone calls with Shami Chakrabarti."

* No doubt Steve Hilton was surprised on Monday when Commons security approached asking to see his pass. After several minutes consternation, the Tories' soon-to-depart spin doctor was forced to search through his belongings and retrieve his ID.

And in high-definition...

As they say, flattery will get you everywhere. In spite of the success of his dubiously-titled autobiography My Booky Wook – which sold a reported 600,000 copies – Russell Brand has decided that his future lies not with his erstwhile publishers Hodder and Stoughton, but rather with the transatlantic book giants HarperCollins.

The move must have come as something of a surprise to Hodders, who until last week had been touting Brand's next book as "opining on a wide variety of subjects, from his love for West Ham to the logistics of sleeping with five people in one night".

It becomes a little less mysterious, however, on referring to the most recent edition of the Collins English Dictionary. Sandwiched between "Brandade" and "Brand", what should we find but an entry reading thus: "Brand, Russell (n), born 1975, English comedian and television presenter."

pandora@independent.co.uk

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