Matthew Bell: The IoS diary

Unashamed luxury in a time of austerity

Share

As an enthusiastic Twitterer she gets full marks for being "on trend". So it pains me to reveal Sarah Brown has gone two steps back by joining Facebook, which some readers may recall was once all the rage. The Prime Minister's wife managed to resist the temptation to join when it was fashionable, but now the circus has moved on she has quietly signed up. Although so far she only has 24 friends, they are a carefully selected group, numbering Piers Morgan, Martha Lane Fox, Emma Freud, Claudia Winkleman and the Times columnist Janice Turner. But perhaps the most intriguing friend is Jo Dipple, the former senior adviser to Gordon Brown who caused him some embarrassment by quitting last autumn. Who will befriend her next – Damian McBride?

When Peter Hain once suggested Labour might raise the top level tax rate, Blair and Brown were furious and publicly rebuked him. It's said that Gordon even telephoned various newspaper editors to denounce Peter Hain as a "moron". It was an interesting choice of words, one famously used in a song by Jilted John, "Gordon is a moron". Alas this refrain is often used of the Prime Minister, appropriately enough now that he has raised the higher tax rate to 50p.

Watch out Miss California – Alan Duncan wants to kill you. The shadow Leader of the House of Commons made the astonishing threat in an unguarded moment during the recording of Have I Got News For You, which was broadcast on Friday. In a sequence about Miss California, who believes same sex marriages are wrong, Alan Duncan appeared to have a sense of humour failure, saying "If you read that Miss California had been murdered you'll know it was me, won't you?" The remark drew a sharp intake of breath from the audience, but Alan Duncan now says it was all just a joke. "I haven't seen it yet so I can't really comment, but of course it was in jest – it is a comedy show after all," he told me, "I'm sure she's very beautiful and that if we were to meet we would love each other. I have no plans to kill her. I'll send her a box of chocolates – unpoisoned."

Intriguing to hear Ken Boston, the man responsible for the SATs fiasco, accuse Ed Balls and Jim Knight of "sexing up" evidence against him. The former exams chief says he was wrongly portrayed by the two ministers in evidence they gave to an official inquiry. Boston says they had been plotting to oust him since March, but as it happens he didn't resign until December, when a Sunday newspaper revealed he had lavish perks written into his contract, including membership of a yacht club. It remains unclear how the paper got its story, but in the light of the McBride scandal perhaps it's not so hard to imagine.

The rivalry between David Cameron and Boris Johnson intensifies, as Francis Elliott and my colleague James Hanning reveal in their revised biography of Cameron. Indeed communications between the pair are so strained that an insider admits they only speak "from time to time". When the Evening Standard claimed Boris may only run for one term as mayor, Cameron did not ring Boris, but left it to his right-hand man Andy Coulson, who spoke to Boris's senior aide Guto Harri, a former BBC journalist. Asked by a journalist about Boris's plans he said "Who knows? Do you know where you'll be in five years time?"

She stars in the new Terminator film out next month and has a career many Hollywood starlets can only dream of. But Helena Bonham Carter has little interest in the usual pursuits of A-list actresses. Last week she popped in for the opening night of an exhibition of portraits by society photographer Cecil Beaton at the Chris Beetles Gallery in central London. The gamine actress sensibly arrived early to snap up a portrait of her great grandmother Margot Asquith, priced at £3,500. Red dots were appearing fast, with pictures of Pablo Picasso, Lucian Freud and Audrey Hepburn selling particularly well.

m.bell@independent.co.uk

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Graphic and Motion Designer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: Do you get a buzz from thinking up new ideas a...

Recruitment Genius: Media Telesales Executive - OTE £25,000

£14500 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Recruitment Genius: Female Care Worker

£7 - £8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This expanding, vibrant charity which su...

Recruitment Genius: Parts Supervisor & Advisor - Automotive

£16500 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the South East's leading...

Day In a Page

Read Next
People struggle to board a train at the railway station in Budapest  

Even when refugees do make it to British soil, they are treated appallingly

Maya Goodfellow
 

Daily catch-up: immigration past and present, in Europe and in America

John Rentoul
Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones