Talk of snap election puts Bozza in a pickle

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The Independent Online

Gordon Brown's deafening silence over whether to call a snap election isn't just giving headaches to David Cameron, it's also providing his colleague Boris Johnson with a major political migraine.

At the end of this month, "Bozza", is almost certain to be unveiled as the Conservative candidate for next summer's intriguing race for London mayor.

If selected, Johnson has a gargantuan task on his hands in overturning Ken Livingstone's seven-year grip on the capital.

That task is likely to become even tougher for him if the Prime Minster – as the bookmakers predicted yesterday – decides to send the country to the polls in the next few months.

On the one hand, Johnson's (albeit mostly dye-in-the-wool) constituents are likely to be less than chuffed if their man continues campaigning around London, only to turn up in Henley on election day. On the other, Ken's slick media operation is likely to make mincemeat out of his opponent's commitment to the London electorate if he then decides to eschew them in favour of constituency matters.

Understandably, Johnson's team members opted to keep their cards close to their chest over his plans.

"It is a hypothetical question. You are asking the wrong person," says a spokesman. "We suggest you ask Gordon Brown to get off the fence and take a decision. Then come back to us."

Says a spokesman for Ken: "Failure to answer this question shows he's not taking London seriously."

Winehouse recognises Virtue of British art

Despite appearances, Amy Winehouse is not quite the cultural philistine we may have been led to believe.

The tattooed singer, who recently resumed touring after a stint in rehab, appears in this month's edition of "The Art Newspaper" clutching a National Gallery exhibition catalogue for the modish artist John Virtue.

Winehouse, it transpires, is quite an admirer of the English painter.

"Amy is an absolutely huge fan of John's work," says her spokesman.

It's not known whether Winehouse has begun collecting any of Virtue's famed drawings of London's skyline, but happily she won't have to wait too long to see more of his work.

"We're having an exhibition for him here next March," says his representative at the Mayfair gallery Marlborough Fine Art. "But none of us were aware Ms Winehouse was such a fan. We shall have to send her an invite."

Mariella: we're oceans apart

George Clooney is currently walking wounded in New York after he took a tumble on one of his beloved motorcyles. He won't have his old chum Mariella Frostrup's shoulder to cry on any more, though, as she's had to give up crossing the pond to visit him.

"We went to see George in Italy over the summer but we never make it to America to see him anymore," the TV presenter told me at a recent fragrance launch for Jo Malone. "We just can't do it as I'm so terrified of jet lag. If you've got two young children it's such a nightmare travelling for long distances that you may as well not bother."

Frostrup's hubby Jason McCue will be delighted. His wife and the legendary Hollywood swordsman were once thought to be an item.

Presuming Ed

I do hope Ed Miliband is not destined to spend his career living in the political shadow of his elder brother, David.

Down in Bournemouth, firebrand Unite leader Tony Woodley was spotted booming across a packed Bournemouth bar at Miliband minor: "David! David, I'm so sorry I called you Ed earlier today." Perhaps the lights were dimmed.

And Chucklesome Alistair Darling won't be happy Harriet Harman had partygoers at the Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender shindig choking on their Chablis by crying: "Angela Eagle for Chancellor!" That should make for an interesting exchange of grimaces between Darling and Harman over the Cabinet table crisp bowl.

How did they get thru this?

It has really come to something when Ronnie Scott's allows chart-topping cheesy quaver Daniel Bedingfield to grace its hallowed stage. On Monday night, the pop star hunk (who, the club's management says, pitched up unannounced) entertained audiences by performing an "impromptu" set with the legendary London jazz venue's All Stars band.

Bedingfield, it has to be said, is not commonly associated with the jazz scene's sophisticated audiences. He is more famously known for teenybop tracks such as his debut 2001 smash hit I Gotta Get Thru This, which, I'm told, the Soho club's director, the reknowned jazz musician Leo Green, subsequently bashed out on his saxophone.

Miles Davis must be spinning in his grave.