Tory right's journal plays party pooper

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THE Sunday Telegraph, the Tory right's favourite weekend paper, came close to being labelled a spoil-sport yesterday after it leaked plans for a surprise party for Michael Portillo, the faction's darling, writes Patricia Wynn Davies.

The extravaganza, said to involve the hiring of Alexandra Palace, north London, fireworks set to music and films of Mr Portillo's life, was being planned to mark his 10 years as MP for Enfield Southgate. Malcolm Tyndale, his constituency agent, is said to have written to dozens of businessmen for sponsorship.

Lord Tebbit and Lord Parkinson, two leading Thatcherites, had pencilled the event, on 2 December, into their diaries.

Mr Portillo was said yesterday not to have known about the party, which was being planned as a surprise.

Nicholas Winterton, the independent-minded Tory MP for Macclesfield said: 'I suppose I've been in politics long enough never to be surprised. But when I saw it in the Telegraph a wry smile crossed my face.'

While insisting he had every respect for Mr Portillo's confidence and ability, he cautioned: 'He who puts his head above the parapet too early gets it shot off.'