Pandora: Tory donor: I'm still hedging my bets

As the Conservatives prepare for their autumn conference, one of their most generous benefactors is still threatening to throw his considerable clout behind another party.

Stuart Wheeler, the rabidly Eurosceptic spread betting magnate who has poured an estimated £5m into Tory coffers over the past seven years, will today give a speech at the annual James Goldsmith memorial lecture in which he will urge the public to vote against the Tories unless they can convey a more Eurosceptic message.

"It's essential the Conservatives make two key manifesto pledges on Europe before the European elections next year," he tells me.

"They need to promise that if the Lisbon Treaty hasn't become law by the time they get to power, they will hold a referendum on withdrawing. And they need to pledge to renegotiate our European relationship, then hold a referendum on whether the negotiations were sufficient."

"I've always been a loyal Tory supporter and I'd prefer to back them but on this occasion, if they refuse to make those pledges, I'll be encouraging people to vote for another party."

Wheeler was courted last year by Ukip leader Nigel Farage, whom he described as "clever and articulate".

He added: "They may have had their problems but I've no doubt they could sort them out."

De Niro's Ray of sunshine

Robert De Niro recently walked off the set of Mel Gibson's comeback film, Edge Of Darkness, citing (that old chestnut) "creative differences". Since then, the producers of the project, an adaptation of the BBC series of the same name, have drafted in cockney tough nut Ray Winstone to fill in.

But if being replaced has left a nasty taste in De Niro's mouth, he wasn't showing it the other night.

"I am really pleased about it," he told me warmly. "[Winstone] is a great actor – and I think it should be a good production."

Sadly, when I asked what went wrong on set, his publicist inevitably intervened, saying: "No, no that's enough. I think he's just clarified it."

Spread not cred

Bang! In a cloud of safety pins and tartan trews, there goes the last-remaining slice of the Sex Pistols' credibility.

The band's lead singer, Johnny Rotten, has agreed to star in a new advert for British butter brand, Country Life.

"We don't think enough people know Country Life is the only major British butter brand and John gets the message through loud and clear," says a brand spokesman.

Poor Sid Vicious must be turning in his grave.

Back to work for Zane

The executives at London radio station Xfm recently suspended its scruffy breakfast show presenter, Alex Zane, for playing a "joke" song on air about rape.

A fat lot of good their punishment seems to have done. "It was like being on holiday," he tells me cheerfully. "I slept in a lot, watched DVDs and then went back to work.

"Everything I said at the time still stands," he went on. "I think it was all fairly pointless."

No jokes from Adrian

When John Prescott thwacked a voter in 2001, Tony Blair managed to brush it off with a wink and a "John is John".

The Lib Dems are yet to raise a giggle over Adrian "the commander" Sanders's little scuffle with former Lib Dem press officer Mark Littlewood, which has been the highlight of the party conference. His press office has refused to comment, though Sanders will apparently get to keep his job in the Whips' office.

Kane gives turncoats stick

London Fashion Week might have suffered a disastrous "brain drain" of designers this year, but thankfully one of our brightest young prospects, Christopher Kane, won't be joining them any time soon.

"No definitely not," he told me at his show's Bombay Sapphire-sponsored after-party. "That's not going to happen. I owe a lot to London." This year, a number of British designers have snubbed London in order to preview their collections in New York, a move Kane disdains.

"It isn't fair really – they have so much money and support over there," he added. "It's a huge platform. At the end of the day everyone always goes where the money is."

pandora@independent.co.uk

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Recruitment Genius: HR Manager

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are in need of a HR Manage...

h2 Recruit Ltd: Business Development Manager - HR Consultancy - £65,000 OTE

£35000 - £40000 per annum + £65,000 OTE: h2 Recruit Ltd: London, Birmingham, M...

Day In a Page

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
La Famille Bélier is being touted as this year's Amelie - so why are many in the deaf community outraged by it?

Deaf community outraged by La Famille Bélier

The new film tells the story of a deaf-mute farming family and is being touted as this year's Amelie
Calls for a military mental health 'quality mark'

Homeless Veterans campaign

Expert calls for military mental health 'quality mark'
Racton Man: Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman

Meet Racton Man

Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman
Garden Bridge: St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters

Garden Bridge

St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters
Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament: An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel

Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament

An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel
Joint Enterprise: The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice

Joint Enterprise

The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice
Freud and Eros: Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum: Objects of Desire

Freud and Eros

Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum
France's Front National and the fear of a ‘gay lobby’ around Marine Le Pen

Front National fear of ‘gay lobby’

Marine Le Pen appoints Sébastien Chenu as cultural adviser
'Enhanced interrogation techniques?' When language is distorted to hide state crimes

Robert Fisk on the CIA 'torture report'

Once again language is distorted in order to hide US state wrongdoing
Radio 1’s new chart host must placate the Swifties and Azaleans

Radio 1 to mediate between the Swifties and Azaleans

New chart host Clara Amfo must placate pop's fan armies
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'It's life, and not the Forces, that gets you'

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'It's life, and not the Forces, that gets you'

The head of Veterans Aid on how his charity is changing perceptions of ex-servicemen and women in need
Torture: It didn't work then, it doesn't work now

Torture: It didn't work then, it doesn't work now

Its use is always wrong and, despite CIA justifications post 9/11, the information obtained from it is invariably tainted, argues Patrick Cockburn