Pandora: Sally spills the beans on New Labour jobs raffle

Alice-Azania Jarvis
Sunday 23 October 2011 07:22

Kevin's new passion is collecting Insects

Pandora sincerely hopes that Baroness Morgan isn't planning an autobiography any time soon. With the gaudy indiscretions of Cherie Blair and Lord Levy still doing the rounds, the last thing Downing Street needs is another set of unfavourable memoirs.

Unfavourable, however, is what they would be – if, that is, her latest outburst is anything to go by. Speaking before an audience of education officials, she described her days as an adviser to Tony Blair in terms that wouldn't sound out of place in the script of Yes Prime Minister.

Beginning with the words "reshuffles were not always the finest moments," she described how office switchboards would be "backed up" with calls. "There was more than one connection when the wrong person came through," she said. "The Prime Minister would be half way through and then have to say 'I don't think this is the conversation I'm supposed to be having, why don't you come in next Wednesday?' People like me would have to come up with a job for them."

Explains a lot, doesn't it?

Sally Morgan – who, confusingly, shares her name with OK! magazine's "celebrity psychic" – also discussed how the government would promote under-qualified ministers to the Cabinet:

"Sometimes we threw people into senior posts who weren't ready for it. For someone who had been a stunning minister of state, the jump to a senior cabinet job was too soon."

* Kevin Spacey hasn't always been dazzled by the British entertainment industry. Not long ago the Hollywood star handed a vote of no confidence to the Arts Council for their stingy funding policies. Then in March he attacked the BBC talent show I'd Do Anything for promoting musical theatre over other genres.

How nice then to see him lending some support. Speaking to Pandora at a fundraiser, Spacey – recently granted a visiting professorship at Oxford University – gushed about his latest acquisition: a selection of pieces by the controversial English pop artist Paul Insect.

Insect, along with fellow celeb-favourite Banksy, is best known for his anti-establishment messages. One series featured Blair and Bush made up as clowns alongside Pinocchio with a giant missile for a nose.

The sometime graffiti-artist caught public attention last year when Damien Hirst snapped up his entire collection before it reached exhibition. It was reported that the ageing YBA forked out a hefty £50,000 for his prize. I wonder if Spacey got a discount?

Don't use the 'F' word

With her latest work The Edge of Love playing in cinemas, the screenwriter Sharman Macdonald has been praised for creating two of the year's strongest female roles.

The film, which stars MacDonald's daughter Keira Knightley – pictured here with her mother – alongside Sienna Miller, chronicles the life and infidelities of the thirsty Welsh poet Dylan Thomas.

Speaking to Pandora at a recent screening, Macdonald claimed that while she had intended to focus on women, she hadn't sought a feminist agenda: "A lot of people have pointed out that it's mainly a film about female friendship, but I don't think it's feminist with a capital 'F'. I've been re-reading a lot of my Greer and de Beauvoir, and I don't think it fits those paradigms."

Quiet at the back!

If you're a fan of The Who, you may want to pipe down now. Pete Townshend is trying to concentrate. In fact anyone visiting the band's subscription-only website this week will be treated to the following piece of information, posted by site editor and super-fan Rob Lee: "Pete's asked me to request that you don't make any more comments until further notice. He is writing and wishes not to be distracted." Hush!

Come now, why so modest? Iain Dale was positively bashful about his position is yesterday's Independent on Sunday "Pink List", our sister paper's annual study of where power lies among Britain's gay people.

In at number 49 out of 101, the Conservative activist described his ranking as "a bit like West Ham finishing 10th in the Premier League" (which would quite high for the plucky East End team). "If I'm honest," Dale mused, "am I really more influential than Rupert Everett?"

Yes, Iain, we think so.

Off yer bike, Boris

Boris Johnson is not what you would call a model cyclist. What with his repeated helmet-shunning and alleged light-jumping, the Mayor of London has had his fair share of problems.

Time, then, for another: Dr Peter Neumann, the director of the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation and Political Violence at King's College, London, has issued a warning that Johnson's cycling is turning him into a terror target. Writing in the Islington Tribune, Dr Neuman argues that "if someone wanted to do him harm it would be quite easy. It makes him very vulnerable. I would strongly advise him not to ride into work."

Mr Johnson, however, isn't buying it. "I will continue to cycle to work," he responds. "I am told by the Commissioner that there is no security threat to me."

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