Pandora: Wheeler offers a ray of sunshine for Ukip
Tuesday 20 October 2009
There was not, Pandora suspects, the cheeriest of moods among Ukip bean counters yesterday, after the Court of Appeal declared nearly £350,000-worth of donations to the party illegal.
The ruling follows the finding that retired bookmaker Alan Bown had given cash and services to the Eurosceptic group despite not being listed on the electoral roll.
Still, we hear news of one possible ray of sunshine – in the form of fellow party donor Stuart Wheeler.
The spread-betting squillionaire controversially defected to the party this spring after a long-winded falling out with the Conservatives, to whom he had donated more than £5m. At the time he blamed the rift on the "dinosaur Europhiles" on the Tory front bench.
Now Wheeler tells us that – if Nigel Farage's party are, as looks likely, forced to forfeit the funds – he would be likely to step up and offer some replacement.
"Not the whole sum of course – that would be rather a lot!" explains Wheeler. "But I might well help out. Funnily enough, I donated again in the past 10 days. I'm sure some other donors would too. I'm very disappointed with the ruling."
Peston comes clean over his success
*The BBC's shrinking violet business editor Robert Peston took to the stage yesterday for a grilling by Lib Dem favourite Vince Cable as part of Cancer Research UK's Turn the Tables event. Pandora readers were given the chance to enter questions, of which the following was chosen: "Which best describes your delivery style: 'ragged and querulous', 'strangulated' or 'excruciatingly hard to listen to'?" Peston's reply? "All of the above. That's what got me to where I am today." Thanks to Richard Kowenicki for that interrogative gem.
Retail therapy for the political class
*Take a deep breath, and try to contain your excitement: the Tories have launched their online store! Whether it will experience the same site-crashing rush as, say, Agent Provocateur post-Kate Moss campaign remains to be seen, but we're already picking out our shopping list. Get you very own partisan tie for just £16. Or how about a dinky umbrella, tastefully embellished with meteorological print – a snip at £35? Or, Pandora's personal favourite, a cotton babygrow emblazoned with the words "future Prime Minister". Chic!
Olympic mayor cosies up to the Governator
Hitherto the preserve of the Conservative Party, California's "Governator" appears to be the object of enthusiastic courting from the other side.
We hear that Arnold Schwarzenegger has been invited by the Labour Party's Sir Robin Wales, Mayor of Newham, to attend a series of Olympic events in the East London borough.
"We invited him because he used to train in the area," explained a spokesman for the Mayor. Schwarzenegger was known to pump iron at Wag Bennett's Gym in nearby Forest Gate.
Whether Boris Johnson will follow suit is an open question; relations between the two have been frosty ever since Arnie remarked on Bozza's "fumbling" ways.
Mum of the Year gets conservative
*It's that time again: the Bounty Celebrity Mum of the Year awards, an annual opportunity to give unfathomable gongs to illogical winners (notably Kerry Katona, two-time title holder). This year the irreproachable Sarah Brown has been dropped from the nominations, only to be replaced with her Conservative counterpart Samantha Cameron. Still, we doubt she'll be too distressed; other nominees read like a roll call of the arbitrary. Kate Moss, Katie Price and Geri Halliwell are currently fighting it out as favourites.
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