Diary: 'Hurly' Burley's racy ladies

Though keen to work my way through all 424 pages of Kay "Hurly" Burley's debut novel First Ladies, I must confess to having been waylaid by its acknowledgements section: a revealing roll call of the company Ms Burley keeps when she's not on Sky News encouraging celebrity divorcees to blub. The erstwhile ice dancer's first two thank-yous go to fellow chick-lit authors Tasmina Perry and Kathy Lette, who obligingly provided First Ladies with pre-publication puff quotes. Lord Mandelson, too, merits Ms Burley's gratitude, and claims on the cover that she "uses her unrivalled knowledge of the worlds of politics, media and celebrity to racy effect". (Yes, Peter, but is it any good?) Also thanked profusely are former taoiseach Bertie Ahern, who left office under a cloud of (alleged) dubious financial dealings; Damian McBride, who left Gordon Brown's employ when he was caught discussing whether to spread scandalous tales about the private lives of Tories; and Lord Archer, who was jailed for perjury. If you need help creating a work of fiction, I suppose there are worse people to ask.

Cameron told to rein in special advisers over negative briefings

David Cameron has been officially reprimanded by the head of the civil service over the "unacceptable" behaviour of some of his special advisers.

The Sketch: Now lurking in the shadows: Labour's beast with two Eds

Now that the shadow Leader and shadow Chancellor are set in place for the rest of the parliament, one thing we know.

Will Labour's new press chief become the story?

Tom Baldwin must learn from the mistakes of his predecessors to turn his new boss into the next PM, says Andy McSmith

The Sketch: A tale of two Eds – Balls' loss turns out to be Miliband's gain

You must have noticed Ed Balls working at his reinvention. It's "new balls please" in the shadow Home Office. For years he was the sorcerer's apprentice, the imp who mixed the phials of poison for his boss Brown. He handled Damian McBride, he stoked the loathing for Tony Blair. And he could win almost any fight because there were two of him.

The Sketch: With Clegg sidelined, Dave sees off Harriet with genuine warmth

With Edwina Miliband at home on new-baby duties, we expected a battle of the deputies for PMQs. But after last week's gruelling encounter on tuition fees, Nick Clegg was stood down to recuperate and the Prime Minister faced up to Harriet himself.

Diary: A new phase opens in Labour's civil war

Neatly timed for the publication of the 127th book about the first instalment (Jonathan Powell's), the Labour Civil War Mark II began at the weekend. Leading the neo-Blairite cavaliers was Peter Hyman, the Mr Tony adviser turned inner-city Mr Chips and Newsnight sage, who deflected any suspicions about his friend David Miliband's sense of entitlement by accusing Little Ed of "stealing his brother's crown". Ed's victory was a "catastrophe" for Labour, says Peter.

How 'the election that never was' turned political allies into bitter rivals

A new radio series sheds light on what split the previously close friends now fighting for the Labour leadership

The Sketch: Clegg refuses to be drawn into the Coulson scandal. And who can blame him?

It's been an interim Parliament so far, and with Cameron away with his family we had an intermission to the interlude. No doubt there is a frenzy going on in corners, crevices and committee rooms but in the chamber it's dreamy.

Matthew Bell: The <i>IoS</i> Diary (29/08/10)

One-man show on the fringe

Are the Telegraph's political scoops good journalism &ndash; or just a case of friends in high places?

When Andy Coulson, the Tory communications chief, entered Downing Street in the full knowledge that the coalition Government would have to embark on a programme of savage public-sector job cuts he was no doubt equally aware that some civil servants might do all they could to make his job a nightmare.

Stephen Glover: Is there a mole inside 10 Downing Street?

Media Studies: The leaking of the Queen's Speech seriously browned off No 10

The Brown paradox

His 'psychological flaws' have become notorious. And yet, says Donald Macintyre, Gordon Brown may just have saved his party

Nigel Morris: A personal rebuff for Brown, an existential threat to his party

Labour appeared to have averted electoral meltdown last night, but the stark reality is that the party has achieved its worst electoral performance for nearly two decades.

Matthew Norman: Will Blinky consign Labour to history?

If Ed Balls has a political philosophy, it is the domineering, top-down, we-know-best infantilising statism of Gordon himself
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