The naked truth: young Tories look to the future at a strip club

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The Independent Online

* Here's a story to enrage the young Turks fighting to "modernise" Michael Howard's Tories: Conservative Future, the party's youth wing, has decided to hold its autumn cocktail party at Stringfellows.

* Here's a story to enrage the young Turks fighting to "modernise" Michael Howard's Tories: Conservative Future, the party's youth wing, has decided to hold its autumn cocktail party at Stringfellows.

An e-mail circulated to members of London Western Conservative Future - and leaked to Pandora yesterday - said that the reception would be held at "Stringfellows' Cabaret of Angels" on 1 October.

"All attendees are welcome to stay beyond that time, but complimentary champagne and canapés shall be available from 8pm-10pm," it says. "LWCF are enormously privileged and honoured to be able to hold this event due to the kind generosity of Peter."

News that an official Conservative event is being held at a Soho strip joint won't exactly please reformists in the party, who have been campaigning to attract more female supporters of late. But the organisers of the bash were not penitent yesterday.

"We have a lot of different events, which appeal to different people," said the LWCF chairman, Annesley Abercorn. "It isn't compulsory: if people don't like the sound of the event, they don't need to come along."

Stringfellow, is delighted to play host. "We Tories are a very broad church," he said, when I caught up with him at a streetside café in Paris.

"Certainly, the last time I spoke to Margaret Thatcher she didn't seem to be upset by what I do."

* ROMOLA GARAI, the star of Working Title's new film Inside I'm Dancing , is standing by her employer's controversial decision to cast able-bodied actors in disabled roles.

"The job of an actor is to portray characters and circumstances we don't have personal experiences of," Garai tells me.

"Of course, it isn't easy explaining this to the disabled lobby, which tends to be very politicised. But while I'm all in favour of their taking affirmative action, I don't think they are right on this issue."

Disabled rights groups are already kicking up a stink over the film, but plucky Garai seems to relish controversy: she's now off to Australia to make an ITV series about the deportation of criminals.

"I studied some post-colonialism, so I'm fully aware that Britain hasn't come to terms with that part of our history - we basically invented the concentration camp," she adds.

* STILL NO word on what Bono proposes to do with the lavish fees he'll earn from lecturing on "Aids, debt and trade in Africa".

Yesterday - when Pandora revealed that U2's wealthy lead singer, above was in negotiations to speak at next year's Hay Festival - I wondered what he would do with the proceeds. Simply trousering them might be considered bad form.

"Isn't that an academic question?" asks his spokesman, when I called. "I think it's a little academic to ask what he'll do with the money if he hasn't earned it yet."

And so back to the Harry Walker agency, who signed Bono in March, and also represent Cherie Blair and Bill Clinton. But they weren't returning calls on the matter yesterday.

* AFTER 107 years, a puff of smoke: Country Life magazine (founded 1897) is rebranding. Its "girls in pearls" frontispiece - where well-bred females pose for a photo - will be supplemented by a new fleshspot, "Bright Young People".

The feature was to have been called "Bright Young Things", until someone pointed out that this phrase is a modern-day invention, coined by Stephen Fry for his recent film. Cue a frantic e-mail to all staff.

"We have discovered that Bright Young Things is a solecism," it reads. "As a rather overworked phrase anyway, we are happy to use instead the correct phrase from Evelyn Waugh's novel Vile Bodies : "Bright Young People".

* Lord Archer is lying low, after becoming embroiled (unwittingly, he claims) in the Mark Thatcher affair. Meanwhile, his eldest son William - a budding film-maker - is making waves across the Pond, and last night held a premiere for his debut work, a 30-minute documentary entitled Hand to Hand.

According to press bumf, it's a touching personal tale set against the background of US politics. Archer (Jnr), you see, worked for Bill Bradley during the 2000 presidential election.

Sadly, Lord Archer - pictured with his son, right - is not thought to have attended the launch bash: getting into the States is no easy feat for a former jailbird, these days.