Village people: 28/11/2009



No thanks, Ann


*Ann Widdecombe's chances of a new career as Britain's envoy to the Vatican are on the wane.

After she was tipped for the post in August, it was thought that her conversion to the Roman Catholic Church, which she joined because she opposes the ordination of women, would not count against her. Every envoy to the Holy See has been Protestant except the incumbent, Francis Campbell, who is Roman Catholic. He was preceded by the first woman, Kathryn Colvin. But, much as Ann Widdecombe would love to be the next, she is not the preferred candidate. With the Pope due to visit the UK in September, the Government is looking for someone with more experience of diplomacy.

The gay side of Ukip

*Talking of feisty women, the West Midlands MEP Nikki Sinclaire failed in her attempt yesterday to be elected leader of the UK Independence Party. A shame. Ms Sinclaire, who is 6ft 4in tall, has been mistaken for a transvestite male. She outed herself as a lesbian in 2004, after the Ukip candidate in the London mayoral election had made a disparaging comment about gays, but declined to take on leadership of a "homosexual wing" of Ukip. During the 2005 general election, the police had to arrest her after she had invaded a "Queer Question Time" organised by Birmingham Pride. She objected to there being no Ukip representative on the platform. The woman may be eccentric but she is not dull.

Driven to distraction

*Since Andrew Adonis was appointed Transport Secretary, he has earned a reputation as the first occupant of that post who really cares about trains, even riding on them whenever he can. But on Thursday night he was embarrassingly late for the annual dinner of the Greenwich and Woolwich Labour Party, where he was guest speaker, because he had varied his habits and accepted a lift in a car with two MPs. As the parliamentarians left Westminster, a lorry caught fire on the main road ahead, bringing traffic to a standstill. Their 10-mile journey, which would have taken a matter of minutes by train, lasted more than two hours. That'll teach 'em.

Art of a good story

*Tremendous publicity was given in yesterday's newspapers to evidence to the inquiry into the Iraq war from the former UK ambassador to Washington, Sir Christopher Meyer. He claims to know that Tony Blair decided in 2002 to go to war in Iraq, regardless of the legalities. After Sir Christopher retired he wrote memoirs which were so contemptuous of Labour that civil servants feared he had damaged their reputation for impartiality. He did not clear the book with the Foreign Office, claiming that politicians such as Robin Cook had written books without doing so – which was simply untrue. He also revealed that "my children said to me 'Write down the story' because every time I told the story it's different". One wonders how seriously the Chilcot inquiry will take his evidence.

A Tory diary clash

*David Cameron and George Osborne are comrades, are they not? They are not rivals, trying to undermine one another. Or are they? An invitation has gone out to political journalists and others for pre-Christmas drinks with Osborne at a hotel near Parliament on Tuesday week. On that same evening, the same guests are invited to another reception held at the same time, in one of Parliament's buildings, hosted by David Cameron. Poor George is in danger of having a lot of wine to drink and no one to talk to.

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