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

Selby Jennings: VP/SVP Credit Quant- NY- Investment Bank

Not specified: Selby Jennings: VP/SVP Credit Quant Top tier investment bank i...

Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executive- City of London, Old Street

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executiv...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: An international organisa...

Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwickshire

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwicksh...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Christmas Day cinema-goers seem to have mistaken the complexities of the right to free speech  

There's a time to speak and a time to keep quiet

Paul Vallely
Peter Mandelson first resigned from the cabinet on 23 December 1998  

2015's dim-sum index has too many courses

John Rentoul
War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

The West needs more than a White Knight

Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

The stories that defined 2014

From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?
Finally, a diet that works: Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced

Finally, a diet that works

Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced
Say it with... lyrics: The power of song was never greater, according to our internet searches

Say it with... lyrics

The power of song was never greater, according to our internet searches
Professor Danielle George: On a mission to bring back the art of 'thinkering'

The joys of 'thinkering'

Professor Danielle George on why we have to nurture tomorrow's scientists today
Monique Roffey: The author on father figures, the nation's narcissism and New Year reflections

Monique Roffey interview

The author on father figures, the nation's narcissism and New Year reflections
Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

Their outrageousness and originality makes the world a bit more interesting, says Ellen E Jones
DJ Taylor: Good taste? It's all a matter of timing...

Good taste? It's all a matter of timing...

It has been hard to form generally accepted cultural standards since the middle of the 19th century – and the disintegration is only going to accelerate, says DJ Taylor
Olivia Jacobs & Ben Caplan: 'Ben thought the play was called 'Christian Love'. It was 'Christie in Love' - about a necrophiliac serial killer'

How we met

Olivia Jacobs and Ben Caplan
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's breakfasts will revitalise you in time for the New Year

Bill Granger's healthy breakfasts

Our chef's healthy recipes are perfect if you've overindulged during the festive season
Transfer guide: From Arsenal to West Ham - what does your club need in the January transfer window?

Who does your club need in the transfer window?

Most Premier League sides are after a striker, but here's a full run down of the ins and outs that could happen over the next month
The Last Word: From aliens at FA to yak’s milk in the Tour, here’s to 2015

Michael Calvin's Last Word

From aliens at FA to yak’s milk in the Tour, here’s to 2015