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Old rockers for the Tories

Those aged 18 to 25 are being invited to "Rock the Vote" next month when a new campaign, backed with pounds 1m of record companies' money, tries to encourage young people to use their vote at the next general election.

The move, based on a similar exercise in the United States, is, according to invitations sent out, "a nationwide music-lead campaign." Nice concept, never mind the spelling.

At times like these, my heart goes out to the Conservative Party. Labour is already claiming the Britpop supergroups Blur and Oasis as supporters. The Tories have always found it harder to rally rock stars to the cause.

Not this time, though. A Conservative Central Office spokeswoman tells me triumphantly that Mick Jagger, Rick Wakeman and Queen's Brian May are all true blue. The former Who and Small Faces drummer Kenney Jones even has a photograph of John Major above his snooker table.

Mr Major would be wise to parade all the aforesaid stars at his side in the election campaign. They will make him look terribly youthful.

Friendly Roy

Those who watched the new drama series Our Friends in the North, telling the story of four Newcastle chums, may have noticed a peculiar reference. Last night's episode was set at the time of the 1964 general election; and at one point the commentator announced: "Leslie Seymour has lost Sparkbrook." The fate of that Birmingham seat is not generally remembered as one of the most newsworthy items of election night 1964. So why should it figure in a programme about four friends in Newcastle?

The answer could be that even a good new drama needs publicity. And what better to spark a columnist into writing about the series than a mention of Leslie Seymour losing Sparkbrook, particularly as the victor at Sparkbrook that night in 1964 was Roy Hattersley? Mr Hattersley, who has a column in another place, was duly flattered by the reference to his night of glory - and devoted his entire column to the programme.

Gates wakes up to e-mail

The famous, such as President Clinton, and the rich, such as Microsoft's founder, Bill Gates, may have e-mail addresses, but do they actually read what's sent to them and bother to reply? In the case of Gates, the answer is yes ... and speedily. A London reviewer of his new book found a typographical error and e-mailed him about it on Sunday morning. A response came within four hours; all the more impressive as it would have been the middle of the night at his Seattle base. Does the man never sleep? Or does he sleep with a "you have new mail" bleeper under his pillow?

'Sun' under a moral cloud

Nick Tate, the Government's school curriculum adviser, who yesterday launched his crusade for schools to teach more about morality, has a Nineties-style morality of his own, I gather.

Last month the Sun published a full-page article, purportedly by Tate, whose name appeared at the top in very bold type, on how calculators in schools were stopping a generation of children from learning basic sums. The only problem was, Mr Tate didn't write it. Neither was he interviewed for it. The piece in fact came from a telephone chat between a Sun reporter and an official at the School Curriculum and Assessment Authority, of which Mr Tate is chief executive.

It is, without question, morally wrong for a newspaper to print an article by a chap who did not write that article. And Mr Tate's office has now given the Sun a strict moral choice to make. Either apologise for putting Mr Tate's name at the top of the article - or pay Mr Tate a fee for having purportedly written it.

A lesson for little Rhodes

That, at least, is a more peaceful moral code than that which held sway in the boyhood of the former education minister Sir Rhodes Boyson. At the weekend he nostalgically recalled his father's reaction to young Rhodes failing his 11-plus because he skived off an exam to watch Blackburn Rovers: "He hit me for the first time, literally knocking me out, and for the first time in my life education became very important."

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