WILKES'S diary

Wilkes's Tory colleagues are threatening to rebel against the renewal of the BBC charter in protest at the screening of the Panorama interview by the Princess of Wales. The row over the programme within the BBC has brought to a head Tory grumbles about the BBC, and could lead to a rebellion when the charter is renewed in the next few weeks. My pals are furious that BBC top brass kept the interview secret from their chairman, Marmaduke Hussey.

The draft charter will be published within the next few weeks by Wilkes's favourite nanny, Virginia Bottomley. She will include a definition of taste and decency in the back-up agreement to the charter, opening the way for the Parliamentary Prude Tendency to demand a ban on all sex on television, including princesses confessing unfaithfulness with Guards officers.

The whole shooting match threatens to become a ghastly BBC-bashing exercise. But the Conservative leadership can only blame itself. After all, it was the chairman of the party, Brian Mawhinney, who first put the boot into the BBC at the party conference.

The man with the most unenviable job in Parliament this week was Andrew Mackay, a Government whip who goes under the glorious title of Lord Commissioner of the Treasury.

Mackay had the task of writing to Her Majesty with quill pen in the aftermath of the Panorama interview to tell the monarch what was going on in the House of Commons.

While Wilkes's great friend Nicholas Soames was making an ass of himself, for which he had to apologise to the PM, for accusing the Princess of being (as one Tory MP put it) "one sandwich short of a picnic", Mackay was stumped for what to say to the Queen.

In the end he kept a discreet silence and told her all about the debate on the Queen's Speech. And very dull reading it must have made.

Robert Hughes, a former whip who has also suffered from public disclosures by a woman wronged, has borrowed a copy of the history of Queen Caroline from the House of Commons library. Caroline was accused of running a bordello in Blackheath, but a Royal Commission found the charges were trumped up.

Mind you, in those days they did not have Panorama.

Is life at Chequers as drear and constrained as we have all been led to believe in recent times? Far from it, Wilkes can reveal. The Prime Minister - spurred no doubt by Mrs Norma Major, biographer of Joan Sutherland - holds opera evenings at his official country residence to inject elements of much-needed grace and charm to summits with foreign heads of government. Britain's young musicians, moreover, have been getting in on the act. The British Youth Orchestra delighted Jacques Chirac last month with a programme of arias from, among others, La Traviata, La Boheme and Les Contes d'Hoffman. For Boris Yeltsin last year there were favourites from Eugene Onegin, Carmen and Rigoletto. It is now evident that the Majors have finally warmed to the old place. Indeed, a Chequers history is to be published by Norma next year.

Harry Greenway, Tory MP for Ealing North, has meanwhile been busying himself on the topic of opera hats - and going to the trouble of putting down a parliamentary question to Tony Newton, Leader of the House, on the lack of adequate numbers of them in the Commons chamber. For the uninitiated, such headgear must be donned when making points of order during a division, to make members distinctive to the chair when colleagues are milling about. There is only one hat kept behind the Speaker's Chair for such purposes, leading to what Mr Greenway believes are unseemly scrambles when several MPs are clamouring to be heard. The issue is now to go to the Commons Procedure Committee.

Stephen Pollard, the lefty Fabian Society's director of research, is a strong candidate to take over the directorship of the free-market Social Market Foundation, Wilkes is reliably informed. It was Pollard, of course, who suggested in a paper that Labour should embrace selective education, although the society thought otherwise and declined to publish it. If Pollard gets the job, nothing could better illustrate the blurring of the old distinctions between right and left since he would be replacing Danny Finkelstein, who has become no less than director of research at Conservative Central Office.

Who could credit the mean-mindedness of the Ministry of Defence, Wilkes wonders? The ministry is resolutely refusing to replace former servicemen's medals that have been stolen or lost through misadventure, so Iain Duncan Smith, Conservative MP for Chingford, has discovered from a Mr Jack Conn, a pensioner constituent. At about pounds 60 each, Mr Conn cannot afford replacements for his stolen medals, but the MoD remains unmoved in spite of the fact that this is the year we are all commemorating the 50th anniversary of the end of the Second World War. Mr Conn could not have selected a better champion to fight his cause, since Mr Duncan Smith is an ex-soldier and holder of campaign medals for service in the former Rhodesia and Northern Ireland (his father, Group Capt W Duncan Smith won no fewer than five gallantry medals). The MP is now collecting signatures for a Commons petition to be presented in the next few days.

Donald Thompson is in the habit of sending out jolly cards at this time of year to remind his friends to vote for him in the elections for the 1922 Committee, which took place yesterday. As usual, Wilkes got his card from Donald, with the message "Thompson for the 22" on it, like dozens of his friends. The only problem is that Thompson was so busy filling out the blasted cards, he failed to put his nomination papers in.

Having been to many receptions hosted by Her Majesty the Queen, Wilkes can let a little-known detail slip for those less privileged, who are never invited to join the line to shake hands with the monarch. The Queen wears rubber gloves for the practice.

This highly practical precaution was noticed by those "Down Under" when the Queen hosted a glittering reception for the revellers at the Commonwealth Heads of Government conference in New Zealand. At least, Wilkes believes it was done as a precaution. She surely could not have been expected to wash the dishes afterwards.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Life and Style
The veteran poverty campaigner Sir Bob Geldof issues a stark challenge to emerging economies at the Melbourne HIV/Aids conference
health
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch and John Malkovich talk Penguins of Madagascar at Comic-Con
comic-con 2014Cumberbatch fans banned from asking about Sherlock at Comic-Con
Arts and Entertainment
Chris Pratt stars in Guardians of the Galaxy
filmGuardians Of The Galaxy should have taken itself a bit more seriously, writes Geoffrey Macnab
News
Sir Chris Hoy won six Olympic golds - in which four events?
news
Life and Style
People may feel that they're procrastinating by watching TV in the evening
life
News
Lars Ulrich of Metallica performs on the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury 2014
people
Arts and Entertainment
film
News
video
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
film
Arts and Entertainment
Up my street: The residents of the elegant Moray Place in Edinburgh's Georgian New Town
tvBBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past
Extras
indybest
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Associate Recruitment Consultant - IT

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £40,000: SThree: Computer Futures has been est...

IT Technician (1st/2nd line support) - Leatherhead, Surrey

£23000 - £25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Technician (1st/2nd line support)...

Business Analyst

£300 - £350 per day: Orgtel: Job Title: Business Analyst Rate: £300 - £350 per...

C# .NET Developer

£290 - £291 per day + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: Manchester C#.NET ...

Day In a Page

Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little
Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform