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: Start a Career as a Financial Markets Trader

£40000 - £100000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Become a professional Trader a...

Recruitment Genius: Software Implementation Consultant

£45000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This software company specialis...

Recruitment Genius: Service Desk Co-ordinator / Client Services Administrator

£22000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The successful applicant will s...

Recruitment Genius: Sales & Warehouse Assistant

£14807 - £15470 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This manufacturer and supplier ...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

The era of graduates from the university conveyor belt is over

Hamish McRae
The UCAS clearing house call centre in Cheltenham, England  

Ucas should share its data on students from poor backgrounds so we can get a clearer picture of social mobility

Conor Ryan
Giants Club: After wholesale butchery of Idi Amin's regime, Uganda’s giants flourish once again

Uganda's giants are flourishing once again

After the wholesale butchery of Idi Amin's regime, elephant populations are finally recovering
The London: After 350 years, the riddle of Britain's exploding fleet is finally solved

After 350 years, the riddle of Britain's exploding fleet is finally solved

Archaeologists will recover a crucial item from the wreck of the London which could help shed more light on what happened in the vessel's final seconds
Airbus has patented a jet that could fly from London to New York in one hour

Airbus has patented a jet that could fly from London to New York in one hour

The invention involves turbojets and ramjets - a type of jet engine - and a rocket motor
10 best sun creams for kids

10 best sun creams for kids

Protect delicate and sensitive skin with products specially formulated for little ones
Tate Sensorium: New exhibition at Tate Britain invites art lovers to taste, smell and hear art

Tate Sensorium

New exhibition at Tate Britain invites art lovers to taste, smell and hear art
Ashes 2015: Nice guy Steven Finn is making up for lost time – and quickly

Nice guy Finn is making up for lost time – and quickly

He was man-of-the-match in the third Test following his recall to the England side
Ashes 2015: Remember Ashton Agar? The No 11 that nearly toppled England

Remember Ashton Agar?

The No 11 that nearly toppled England
Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

'A gift from Egypt to the rest of the world'

VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, applauds a man who clearly has more important things on his mind
The male menopause and intimations of mortality

Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
Man Booker Prize 2015: Anna Smaill - How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?

'How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?'

Man Booker Prize nominee Anna Smaill on the rise of Kiwi lit
Bettany Hughes interview: The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems

Bettany Hughes interview

The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems
Art of the state: Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China

Art of the state

Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China
Mildreds and Vanilla Black have given vegetarian food a makeover in new cookbooks

Vegetarian food gets a makeover

Long-time vegetarian Holly Williams tries to recreate some of the inventive recipes in Mildreds and Vanilla Black's new cookbooks