Young Hague's love of the lash

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The Independent Online
William Hague, the young pretender to the Tory throne, enjoys flagellation. That can be the only explanation for his atavistic pleasure in being ridiculed by the cartoonists.

Some chap with a double-barrelled name in Hague's office in downtown Victoria claims that "Don't Be Vague" found the portrait of himself as a boy in short trousers in the Guardian "very amusing". Presumably he has to say that. Oh no, says the spokeschild: "He loves the cartoons. He asks for them all." Yes, but does he pay for them?

Welcome back, Boris "Brainbox" Johnson, the partially tamed Telegraph and Spectator scribbler. He has returned to Westminster after a dubious foray into democracy in the Conservative interest. Bozza, who you remember was learning Welsh the better to impress the voters, was hammered in Clwyd South by Martyn Jones, the pistol-packin' Labour incumbent who almost tripled his majority. At least "Brainbox" still has the language. Will he stand again? "Er, I'm not sure," he replies. And so another great political career dematerialises.

Just imagine the level of pomposity required to write to a charity and rage about being reminded that you are soon to cross the great divide of becoming 50. But ex-headhunter Richard Addis (father of the eponymous Express editor) has been on the receiving end of just such scripts.

He works for RSVP - Retired and Senior Volunteer Programme - a charity that enlists the over-fifties for worthwhile community work. He had the bright idea of getting from Debrett's People of Today (a dictionary of the self-important) a list of a thousand men and women who are turning fifty this year. Then he wrote asking if they would like to join in RSVP's good works, or perhaps send a cheque.

One well-known journalist (male, naturally) fired off an incandescent letter demanding to know how he had procured this classified information. Another recipient (a lawyer, naturally) threatened to sue, or at least invoke, the Data Protection Registrar. Of course, the information had been supplied by the individuals themselves - along with their wives' maiden names, details of their children, their schools and whatever else - to a reference book on sale to the public.

What a Saga saga. Addis shakes his head in despair: "It's totally absurd. I'm proud to be fifty. And a bit more, actually." Hear, hear! So is Creevey.

THE internal market has come to Westminster. The Lords Bar, a discreet haunt of the likes of milord Gerry Fitt, has posted later opening times starting next week. A notice promises "Hottest Gossip! Fastest Service! Lowest Prices!". All true. Maybe. But they don't tell you about the perils of drinking under the stern gaze of no-nonsense Nora, the Irish barperson, who has been known to evict customers for, well, let's say being unduly social.

Some people you just can't say nice things to. Viscount Goschen, the amiable ex-Transport Minister wrote to his successor, Glenda Jackson (Hampstead, Oscar-on-the-Mantelshelf Party), congratulating her on getting the job and expressing the hope that she enjoys her period of office. Glenda wrote back in high dudgeon: "I'm not here to enjoy myself!" Well don't, then.

Glenda's son Dan was a bit surprised to read in the Evening Standard that he is now working for Clare Short, Secretary of State for International Development. Considering that Clare and Glenda were scratching each other's eyes out in Shadow Transport days, this is most comradely news.

Except that is isn't true. Glenda's lad is Dan Hodges. Clare's sidekick is Dan Harris. Young Hodges, an able fellow, is out of a job since polling day.

HOWEVER, if you thought the enterprise culture had reached its apogee, think again. Creevey hears that a consortium of trade union officials is moving in to sell the expertise of redundant Blair Babes.

In the region of two hundred spinpersons and allied staff are due to get their cards at Labour's Millbank HQ over the next few weeks, as their short-term "election contracts" expire. Don't believe any of this phonus bolonus about Blair defending the right to work. Now he is safely in Downing Street, he will single-handedly add a small percentage point to the dole queues.

But hope springs eternal in the breast of THIGMOO (This Great Movement of Ours). Some sharp lads in the white-collar unions will this week launch a consultancy to "place" the bright young things of Millbank with new employers - chiefly in the private sector. On a percentage basis, you understand. If this is not a true conversion, tell me a better one.

Paul Routledge

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