The real reason Davis keeps going on about binge drinking

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The Independent Online

On Tuesday, Davis, above right, issued a statement containing the twin soundbites: "We need to call time on yob behaviour" and "the Government should get a grip on the problem of binge drinking."

As well as playing to hysterical news pages, these comments have conveniently served to shaft Davis's principal rival for Michael Howard's job, David Cameron. You see, Cameron, far right, sits on the board of a company called Urbium, which owns a number of "vertical drinking" establishments, including the Tiger Tiger bar chain, and Sugar Reef in the West End.

His £27,500-a-year job there remains a running-sore for as long as the licensing issue is on the front pages. And allies of Davis are determined to ensure it dominates them for weeks to come.

"There's two reasons for David to keep this one rolling," says one supporter. "Firstly, it plays well with the party faithful. Secondly - and far more importantly - it totally knackers Cameron."

"He's now lost moral high ground, and must be very careful about giving interviews: one awkward question on this and he's a goner."

By pure co-incidence, David Cameron's odds of beating Davis slipped to 3/1 yesterday.

* Malcolm McDowell's portrayal of the futuristic murderer Alex in A Clockwork Orange was one of the most controversial film roles on record.

Interesting, then, to learn that he's about to produce his first film, and it'll explore eerily similar territory to Stanley Kubrick's 1971 classic.

McDowell has bought serial rights to a biography of the Scottish serial killer, Archibald Hall. As well as overseeing production of the script, he's also to take a lead role.

"Hall is a wonderful character in many ways," McDowell says. "He's a fabulous part for an actor and that is why I've stayed with it for so long.

"It's sort of like Pulp Fiction where you laugh out loud after they've done a killing and are talking about eating hamburgers. It is the mundane-ness of it that appeals."

In case you are wondering, Hall was responsible for five gruesome murders during the 1970s. His instruments of torture included spades, pokers, and a plastic bag.

* When he isn't inviting music fans to "give us yer fookin' money," Sir Bob Geldof takes a keen interest in WB Yeats.

He's in good company: another pop veteran, Gary Kemp, has written a musical about Ireland's greatest poet. Bizarrely, the former Spandau Ballet star has set the 1916 Easter rising to music. He and co-writer Guy Pratt have even included several Yeats classics in the lyrics.

"Gary knows the story of 1916 incredibly well. He just recited it from heart and we sat there and thought, yes, in Yeats we have our hero," Pratt tells me. "It was ready to go into production earlier this year, but then a whole load of lowbrow stuff started popping up around London so we couldn't get a venue."

So it goes, in the hand-to-mouth world of highbrow art!

* Tony Blair is staying on holiday during Robin Cook's funeral in Edinburgh tomorrow, but pretenders to his throne wouldn't miss it for the world.

Gordon Brown has already agreed to read the eulogy at the service. Now I learn that a key rival for the Labour leadership, Peter Hain, is cutting short his summer break in Malaga in order to attend.

They'll impress the Labour faithful, and avoid a monstering from Cookie's best mate, the racing pundit John McCririck.

He says the PM's decision to remain in the Caribbean was: "a deliberate, selfish snub to the family, millions of New Labour supporters, and the memory of a man who did so much to bring about this premiership."

* Details have emerged about the fantastic outbreak of "handbags" that accompanied Victor Lewis-Smith's departure from his former employer, The Guardian.

A few months back, the dreadlocked controversialist suddenly ceased to be the paper's restaurant critic. It now turns out that he left in a row overYou're Fayed, a TV documentary that he produced.

Upset by its coverage of the show, Lewis-Smith sent a letter of correction to the newspaper, which was edited (without his permission) before publication. This led to a delightfully petty row, in which both Lewis-Smith and the paper's mild-mannered Reader's Editor, Ian Mayes, threatened to quit if they didn't get their way. Mayes is still at The Guardian.

Yesterday, Lewis-Smith refused to talk, as did his PR agency. Says a former colleague: "It's strange how someone who dish it out every day can be so queeny when they're on the receiving end."