South Shields

Andy McSmith's Diary: Chuka Umunna and George Osborne made it a good

An increasing number of people are learning the hard lesson that whatever goes up on the internet stays there. The latest is the high-flying Labour MP Chuka Umunna who joined an online club called ASmallWorld when he was 27 years old, and posted a lament about the trouble he was having finding somewhere cool to go out for the evening in London’s West End, when all the venues seemed to be full of “trash and C-list wannabes.”

Fashion conscious urbanites hand British brand Barbour a profit hike

Before the Kate Middleton effect had retailers chasing their tale to cater to the middle market, another Kate had the ability to send shoppers stampeding. A certain Miss Moss must in part take credit for the recent revival of British brand Barbour after the supermodel wore one of the brand's signature jackets to Glastonbury in 2009. 

Diary: The girl with the star role

So we now have the first pictures of 25-year-old Rooney Mara in the role of the year: the goth bisexual computer hacker Lisbeth Salander, in David Fincher's English-language version of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. The accompanying interview in W magazine does not, I'm afraid, dispel troubling rumours that the stars, Mara and Daniel Craig, will be "doing" Swedish accents in the film. However, Fincher does reveal the names of some of the others who auditioned for the role at a time when any actress seen to have cut her hair was said to be desperate to land it (viz Carey Mulligan, Emma Watson). Natalie Portman, he explains, was too exhausted after shooting three other films back-to-back. Scarlett Johansson was "too sexy". Jennifer Lawrence was "too tall". Mara's winning moment came when she screen-tested a graphic scene, which required her to insert something large into something small belonging to another character. "That's Salander's big scene," said Fincher. "We had to see if they could do it."

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David Miliband steps aside 'to let Ed lead Labour'

Labour leader Ed Miliband left the door open for his elder brother David to return to the party's front line today after the former foreign secretary dramatically announced he was quitting the shadow cabinet.

The awkward dilemma facing a vanquished contender

After spending four agonising days pondering whether or not to take up a place in his younger brother's Shadow Cabinet, an unguarded comment during the new Labour leader's speech yesterday has added a last-minute twist to David Miliband's imminent decision over his political future.