Matthew Bell: The IoS diary

Share

Nick Davies' book 'Flat Earth News' alleges that 'The Observer' enjoys an unhealthily close relationship with the Government. He resurrects the claims, previously denied, that stories undermining the war in Iraq were suppressed and that the paper's ex-political editor, Kamal Ahmed, helped Alastair Campbell write the sexed-up dossier. So it's interesting to learn that Michael Levy, aka "Lord Cashpoint", has appointed an 'Observer' staffer to ghost-write his memoirs. Ned Temko was editor of 'The Jewish Chronicle' for 15 years before joining 'The Obs' as transport correspondent in 2005. Some thought it an odd move for a double Pulitzer Prize nominee and Israeli historian. But Temko is well placed to write transport stories. The chair of the House of Commons Transport Committee is Gwyneth Dunwoody, who is also president of the Labour Friends of Israel. When the donations scandal erupted last year, in which the LFI was implicated, Temko wrote a defence of the lobby group in 'The Observer', dismissing conspiracy theories about the extent of its influence. Who better to set the record straight on cash-for-honours?

Tory MPs no longer have personal assistants. According to sources inside the palace they are now referred to as executive assistants, or EAs. How grand. The measure is thought to be a way of boosting morale among staff following the Derek Conway affair. And perhaps it's just as well. The seedy rumour going round is that some MPs are wife-swapping to get round the clampdown on employing family members.

The novels of Sebastian Faulks explore conflict. As a husband and father of three it's doubtless something he knows plenty about. So news of a row with his teenage son, William, currently a pupil at Winchester College, is perhaps not surprising. I'm told Faulks Jnr recently came up with an ingenious way to punish his father from the distance of his boarding house. He would hit him where it hurts any author – on Amazon. I'm told he wrote a string of negative reviews of Dad's novels on the bookselling site, and gave them a one-star rating (out of a possible five), thus lowering their overall average. Of course, the plot would work only if his father was checking his Amazon ratings regularly, as most authors do. But it seems Faulks Snr has been too busy writing the new James Bond novel to have noticed. Asked if there is any truth in the story, he says, "Not that I know."

Oh no. Is there a cooling in the friendship between Charles Clarke and 'Evening Standard' executive editor Anne McElvoy? Clarke has hotly denied McElvoy's scoop that he intends to run for Labour leader if Gordon Brown loses the election. "Anne McElvoy's piece does not accurately reflect the interview which I gave her [Radio 4] programme," he writes. "I gave no 'signals' of any kind about challenging for the leadership of the party, either now or in the future." But McElvoy is sticking by her story. "The quotes do rather speak for themselves," she says. Until recently Clarke and McElvoy were thick as thieves, even offering themselves as a joint dinner date for the 'Standard' Christmas charity auction. But there is hope for the future. "We are not at loggerheads and will continue to wine and dine," McElvoy reassures me. "Emphasis on the dine, obviously."

It was the shortest-lived blog in history. No sooner had 19-year-old Max Gogarty posted his first bulletin from his gap year in India on the 'Guardian' website, then sneering comments from readers forced the blog to be closed. "It hasn't been axed," says travel editor Andy Pietrasik. "He just doesn't want to continue doing it, following the response." Pietrasik felt moved to write a defence of the little chap's musings, but barred any further comments after nearly 500 piss-taking messages appeared. Sadly he failed to answer the charges of nepotism – Max's father is a 'Guardian' travel writer, Paul Gogarty – or explain why the blog was promoting the Channel 4 series 'Skins' (it was called skins_blog in the URL), for which Gogarty Jnr is a scriptwriter.

Is it time for a Tory Granita pact? When David Cameron and George Osborne return from their half-term holidays this week, all eyes will be on them to see whether they can patch up their alleged rift. The source of the tension is tax cuts – Osborne sees them as a potential vote-winner, while Cameron remembers the disastrous effects the mere mention of them had for the Tories in the past two elections. One party spin-doctor, Steve Hilton, is said to be backing Cameron while another, Andy Coulson, a Cameron appointment, is with Osborne. Could this week mark the start of a new Blair–Brown-style divide?

m.bell@independent.co.uk

React Now

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

SSRS Report Developer - Urgent Contract - London - £300pd

£300 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: SSRS Report Developer – 3 Mon...

KS1 Teacher

£95 - £150 per day: Randstad Education Birmingham: Key Stage 1 teacher require...

HR Business Partner - Essex - £39,000 plus benefits

£32000 - £39000 per annum + benefits + bonus: Ashdown Group: Generalist HR Man...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £30000 per annum + uncapped: SThree: Do you feel like your sales role...

Day In a Page

Read Next
The influx of hundreds of thousands of eastern European workers has significantly altered the composition of some parts of Britain  

Immigration is the issue many in Labour fear most

Nigel Morris
The Lord Mayor of London Fiona Woolf heads the inquiry  

Why should Fiona Woolf be expected to remember every dinner date?

Mark Steel
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker
Renée Zellweger's real crime has been to age in an industry that prizes women's youth over humanity

'Renée Zellweger's real crime was to age'

The actress's altered appearance raised eyebrows at Elle's Women in Hollywood awards on Monday
From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Patrick Grafton-Green wonders if they can ever recapture the old magic
Thousands of teenagers to visit battlefields of the First World War in new Government scheme

Pupils to visit First World War battlefields

A new Government scheme aims to bring the the horrors of the conflict to life over the next five years
The 10 best smartphone accessories

Make the most of your mobile: 10 best smartphone accessories

Try these add-ons for everything from secret charging to making sure you never lose your keys again
Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time against Real Madrid: Was this shirt swapping the real reason?

Liverpool v Real Madrid

Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time. Was shirt swapping the real reason?
West Indies tour of India: Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Decision to pull out of India tour leaves the WICB fighting for its existence with an off-field storm building
Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?