The shiny new credentials of Tory leader David Cameron are starting to look a little less glamorous by the week. First, Dave got a drubbing at Prime Minister's Question Time, and then Tory Treasury spokesman George Osborn, one of his closest pals, managed to forget about their much-trumpeted green agenda when he made a speech last week in favour of building new housing on greenfield sites.
Instead of supporting measures to protect our dwindling countryside, the Tories now want to redefine what is green and what is brown - in other words, they want to sit on the fence when it comes to the environment. And Mr Cameron's bold new mantra "to stand up to big business" (as advertised in the Sunday press) will be sorely put to the test if the Conservative-controlled East Devon District Council is allowed to go ahead with its plans to build an Asda-Wal-Mart supermarket on the Exe estuary.
Will Mr Cameron step in and follow the lead set by his "quality of life" tsar Zac Goldsmith in denouncing large-scale developments in areas of natural beauty? The local Tories can't believe that Mr Cameron would not want the supermarket to be built. After all, he is supposed to be committed to regeneration and new opportunities. So it looks as if Mr Goldsmith will have no option but to walk the plank unless Mr Cameron is brave enough to remain as green as he's claimed he wants to be.
If you want further proof that Mr Cameron's new caring sharing eco-friendly Tory party isn't that different from the old Conservatives, take a look at the roll-call of talent who turned up for his Black and White Ball the other night. Traditionally, when actors, pop stars or comedians publicly pledge their allegiance to a political party, their credibility sinks to an all-time low. Can I just pitch a couple of names into the frame here - Jim Davidson and Cliff Richard?
The other day I heard the Tories talking on the radio about their "new" selection procedure for potential parliamentary candidates. Now, prospective MPs will not be asked about their spouses or partners, and the traditional cocktail parties where they were grilled about how much time their other half would devote to the cause are to be shunned as inappropriate. So lesbians, single mums, and gay men have nothing to fear.
Please get back to me in a year and tell me if the Tories have more lesbians, gay men and black people in the Shadow Cabinet than I can count on the fingers of one hand, and I'll send you a fiver! In fact, if Mr Cameron can get half a dozen women on his front bench, he might be starting to enter the real world, instead of the desiccated boys' club he has to offer us at present.
The omens are not good. At the Tories' annual ball it was business as usual, in spite of Mr Cameron's promises that we were in for something more relaxed and casual.
Although Dave sported a Tom Ford-type black velvet suit and an open-necked white shirt (topped off with his pasty face, double chin and slicked-back hair - Mr Cameron is about as attractive as podgy, pallid Pete Doherty, but maybe I'm too choosy), you only had to turn around to see William Hague, Iain Duncan Smith and all the old guard in bow ties. As for showbiz, the American actor Michael Brandon was pontificating about British politics. Can he even vote? His wife, Glynis Barber - not exactly box office these day - sported a transparent dress that did nothing for her serious acting credentials.
Then there were all the people who have rich dads like Charlotte Wheeler (dad Stuart is a major donor), Tamara Mellon (who started Jimmy Choo with cash from millionaire dad Tommy Yeardye) and environmentalist Zac (son of billionaire Sir James Goldsmith), complete with wife Sheherazade - now that's a name I'd like to hear over drinks at the Nuneaton Conservative Club one day.
There were the rich businessmen with names like Cadbury, and, of course, the inevitable ageing pop star with a career that could do with a bit of a lift - Bryan Ferry. Although he comes from a working-class Newcastle background, Mr Ferry is only attracted to the county set, and women young enough to be his daughter.
Apparently Ruby Wax was there. I have to be charitable and assume she was carrying out some form of investigative journalism for a new show. Mind you she does live in a multimillion-pound house around the corner from Mr Cameron.
Again I am not sure whether Ruby is legally entitled to vote. But, hey, who cares? Mr Cameron's bid to persuade us that the Tories can be new, exciting and relevant hasn't exactly left the station yet has it?
The power to build not divide
I've always believed in the power of architecture to enrich people's lives. So it was extraordinarily brave of Charles Jencks and Sir Richard Rogers to stand up and be counted the other night at the inaugural meeting of Architects and Planners for Justice in Palestine. The building of illegal settlements and the construction of the obscene separation barrier through the West Bank and Jerusalem demeans all those who are involved in their construction. The International Court of Justice has declared them illegal, and now this new pressure group is calling for a boycott of Israel's construction industry. George Ferguson, the former president of the Riba, is quite correct when he says that architects should not play a part in building anything that drives people apart. Israel's security problems should be dealt with differently.
The new Ken: It takes more than this to be a man among dolls
The new tough Ken unveiled by Mattel toys last week has been created by a Hollywood stylist who has dressed Johnny Depp and comes with ripped jeans and a motorbike jacket. Quite honestly, he looked just as ludicrously camp as all the old Kens did. He's got Princess Diana blond hair and the vapid, expressionless face of a European catwalk model. Even David Beckham would have made a better starting point. At least then Ken could have had a kilt, a sarong, a Roberto Cavalli blouse, a poncho and a load of bling.
Spare us, Tom: If these are your credentials, keep them to yourself
Actually, I can't really tell the difference between the new Ken and the former dress designer Tom Ford, who has guest-edited the new edition of 'Vanity Fair' and put himself on the cover, flanked by two naked actresses, Keira Knightley and Scarlett Johansson, who should have known better. Mr Ford is a rum character, who has designed some perfectly horrible sunglasses with big plastic crosses on the bridge of your nose, and is desperate to get a job directing a Hollywood movie. The sight of a middle-aged gay man with his shirt undone to his waist to reveal a mat of body hair seems a weird way of flaunting your credentials to direct a box office winner. Perhaps he hasn't noticed that Mr Clooney wisely keeps all his kit on and delivers the goods.Reuse content