Revealed: Euan Blair's link with Victoria Aitken

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The Independent Online

* He's the Prime Minister's eldest son and heir; her dad was the most colourful Tory minister of his generation.

But unlikely though it sounds, Euan Blair owes his current stint as a Washington intern to no less fetching a mentor than Jonathan Aitken's daughter, Victoria, right.

In an apparent snub to the British education system, Blair (jnr) is keen to further his academic career by taking a postgraduate degree in politics at an American university.

With this in mind, last year he telephoned Aitken - who has lived across the pond in recent years - to seek advice on finding a place at a decent institution. "Euan got my number through a mutual friend, and rang up saying he knew I went to Georgetown in Washington, and asking if I'd a moment for a drink," she tells me.

"We chatted several times, and I mentioned that Georgetown has the best politics course in the world.

"I said it would be best for him to become an intern there, like I was, to get a feel for the city and for American politics in general. And so he did."

Since the PM's son started work on Capitol Hill - with the Republican Congressman David Dreier - he's made quite an impression on the statuesque Aitken, who describes him as "really nice and confident".

If he does end up studying in the US, political anoraks will announce the start of a trend: in 2000, Bill Clinton's daughter, Chelsea, came to Blighty to study at Oxford.

* Anita Roddick's stern comments on so-called "pimp-chic" have sparked a propaganda war on Britain's high streets.

The retailer Superdrug, a no-frills rival to Roddick's Body Shop, is particularly narked, and reckons they're a backhanded insult to its customers.

By way of a riposte, the firm has therefore delivered a special "Ho Yourself" kit to Dame Anita's Sussex office.

"At Superdrug, we love Beyonce and the glamour of bling," says a spokesman. "It's a little simplistic to say that wearing bling and looking glamorous promotes the sex trade.

"After all, wearing a hippy-inspired gypsy skirt doesn't make people take LSD and cannabis. Wearing a nose-ring doesn't make you a punk. What Dame Anita calls 'Pimp and Ho chic', we call a trend."

Superdrug's goodie bag includes false eyelashes and nails, gold chains, bangles, hoop ear-rings and body shimmer.

A spokesman for Roddick yesterday declined to comment on the "Ho Yourself" kit, until she'd had time to try it out.

* I do hope Vinnie Jones isn't about to hear an ominous knock on his door from the Old Bill.

This week's edition of Hello! magazine carries an "at home" interview with the noted actor and country gent.

Discussing the ongoing home improvements at his Hertfordshire pad, Jones talks about a new "boys' room" being built there.

"They [Mr and Mrs Jones] are constructing a wooden cabin where Vinnie can store his guns and fishing equipment," we learn.

So far, so good. But according to the letter of the law, Jones isn't actually allowed to own any guns.

Two years ago, his shotgun certificate was revoked after he was convicted of "threatening behaviour" on a flight to Tokyo.

Hertfordshire constabulary confirms that Jones hasn't applied to get it back, and is still very much banned from keeping shooters under his roof.

The tweed sporting outfit that he poses in for Hello! must be for show then.

* Alistair Darling may have as much charisma as a culled badger, but he certainly seems to know how to throw a party.

According to a written parliamentary answer, no fewer than 60 "acts of vandalism" occurred at the Transport Secretary's offices last year.

Most were at regional buildings, but one particularly expensive incident took place "inside the actual Department for Transport".

It caused "damage to internal doors, cabinets, the discharging of a fire extinguisher, and damage to a vending machine".

So what went on? "Someone had one hell of a Christmas party," reckons Tory MP David Davies. "Unfortunately, as usual, taxpayers foot the bill."

* Chris Huhne has spent at least part of his Liberal Democrat leadership campaign side-stepping the awkward "drug" question.

But whatever skeletons lie in his closet, evidence suggests that (these days, at least) Huhne is more puritan than we previously thought.

An aide to the Liberal Democrat front runner tells me that he's been "on the wagon" since canvassing began in earnest last month.

"Chris likes a drink, but, unlike Ming, wanted to attend every single hustings," I'm told. "Early on, he realised he'd only last the pace by giving up booze."

Not that Huhne's passed up opportunities to press flesh in bars and clubs, you understand.

"He's been drinking an alcohol-free beer called Kaliber," adds my source. "It helps him look the part, but apparently tastes pretty foul.

Who said Lib Dems can't do spin?

pandora@independent.co.uk

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