Pandora: Stone-age MP leads revolution from within

Click to follow
The Independent Online

I hear of an ugly scene yesterday afternoon in the Palace of Westminster, as the apoplectic-faced Conservative Edward Leigh, 57, escalated a tense stand-off with a policeman.

Concerned colleagues withdrew their mobile phones, ready to film any happy-slapping developments for YouTube, as Leigh, the aristocratic chairman of the Public Accounts Committee, refused to comply with the entrance security requirements of swiping his identity card and inputting his personal pin number.

The bad-tempered constable and the agitated Thatcherite went head to head; the copper demanding compliance, the MP refusing to move until his opponent capitulated.

"Enoch Powell never had a pass and I object to being asked to do this," Leigh said.

"The powers-that-be will know where we are. What if Oliver Cromwell had needed to ask for permission to enter the building? What if he'd been asked to provide the pin number for the king?"

For background knowledge: it would be no great surprise were Leigh to declare these computer contraptions to be a passing fad. There is no evidence to suggest he owns a mobile phone.

In 2005, the Catholic MP for Gainsborough came bottom of a ranking of support for gay rights. "I had to giggle," he said. "I wear it as a badge of honour. The gay vote is not big in Lincolnshire. I was thinking of mentioning it in my election address."

To the barricades, mes frères!

There will be no Oscar for Radiohead's Jonny

Radiohead's Jonny Greenwood has been squashed with praise and was tipped for an Oscar for his unsettling barbed wire score for There Will Be Blood. Yet Academy Awards organisers landed a hefty slap on the Brit guitarist's scrawny chops, disqualifying him at the 11th hour from the Best Score category.

Described by one reviewer as "a hornet's nest of grinding synthesiser chords and sawing strings, occasionally bursting into outlandish pageantry", Greenwood's soundtrack is critical to the Paul ThomasAnderson epic, which has eight nominations.

However, petty rules saw the noisy score axed just before the shortlists were announced, since parts were composed for the BBC's 2005 Popcorn Superhet Receiver. "It fell foul to the small print," says a Radiohead spokesman. "In the Academy's eyes it's not an original score. Jonny's a bit upset about it, but rules is rules I suppose."

Tony's motley God-squad

Next stop on the Blairs' hectic global itinerary: Davos. Tony, the prime minister-turned-Catholic (oil still damp on his forehead) is in the Swiss town and will sing for his supper by chairing a World Economic Forum session on faith and modernisation.

Joining Blair on the platform are an array of fellow-travellers. The good pastor Rick Warren of Saddleback Church, USA, will bring an evangelical taste to proceedings. Hogging the water jug, meanwhile, will be the Iranian Ayatollah Mahdi Hadavi of the "Porch of Wisdom Cultural Institute". The professor of Sharia law believes Iranian women have special freedoms compared to Western women, who are "used as products... Socially, they are not treated well." Cherie Booth will address a meeting on human rights.

Calcium queen

"Camilla" is criticised for her supposed idleness while enjoying the comforts of being hitched to the Crown Prince. But one cause for which she will "walk barefoot over glass", to quote a friend, is tackling osteoporosis.

The bone-wasting disease killed her mother and grandmother. She worries she will inherit it.

As president of the National Osteoporosis Society, Camilla knows the low-profile charity does not attract great funding to find a cure or alleviate symptoms. The Duchess is said to be leaning on The Plant Whisperer (Charles) to grant the organisation the official Royal seal and change its name.

"It's not at the behest of the Duchess but she does support them in this," confirmed a Clarence House official.

Touch my clutch

Tasked with bridging the emotional gulf between his 25-year-old Cheeky Girlfriend, Gabriela Irimia, and his prized Vauxhall Cavalier Diesel, Lembit Opik has refused to ditch the motor.

Ms Irimia dislikes arriving at paparazzi parties in the steamed-up, green love wagon. But her MP boyfriend, 42, tells Pandora: "The Vauxhall Cavalier Diesel is one of the finest cars ever built. Mine has 369,000 miles on the clock and I've had it for 11 years. I regard it as an antique. It might not fit the pop star image now, but one day Gabriela will regard this as a classic car. It could be the E-type Jag of its generation." He is considering contacting Jeremy Clarkson about taking the Cavalier on Top Gear.

Some 80 days ago a newspaper claimed the vehicle had done 250,000 miles. The diary desk's tea-encrusted calculator suggests that Lembit would have since had to drive non-stop, day and night, at 62mph for this to be accurate. Pull over!

pandora@independent.co.uk

Comments