Diary – June 1, 1994


WHILST everyone’s attention is focussed on the Labour leadership, and the subsequent party reshuffle it will entail, I can reveal that the Lib-Dems are quietly planning their own, scheduled to take place after next month’s Euro-elections.
My tips – from impeccable sources, needless to say – are as follows: former Liberal leader, and current holder of the foreign affairs post, Sir David Steel, will bow out, but remain an MP, when he takes over the Presidency of Liberal International in September. The post will then be combined with that of defence, currently occupied by Menzies Campbell, MP for North East Fife, who is likely to take over the amalgamated position.

Campbell, however, is also a favourite for the economics post, currently occupied by Alan Beith, MP for Berwick-upon-Tweed, (and Ashdown’s competitor for the leadership in 1988), who may move – reluctantly- to another senior position.

Meanwhile, in an ironic twist, a fierce battle for the presidency could tear apart two of the party’s oldest allies. Former SDP founder Shirley Williams is tipped to fight the former SDP leader, Robert Maclennan, currently responsible for home affairs.

D-DAY celebrations could be wrecked in Hythe, Kent following the theft of half the town’s war memorial this week. The three foot bronze statue of victory with her wings outstretched is worht pounds 30,000 and was prized from the top the memorial the other night. The act has made some veterans so despondent that they are planning to go to Folkestone for the celebrations instead. The police, however, reckon that the thief could be someone involved with the proceedings. ‘I can’t understand who would want to steal such a thing,’ said PC Harvey-Hendley, investigating: ‘but I doubt it was yobs or hooligans.’

SO ANXIOUS were the crowd at Monday night’s Summer exhibition opening at the old Bond Street furniture dealer’s W R Harvey, for a glimpse of Alan Clark, that, amidst all the jostling one of the more expensive paintings was knocked off the wall. Of course Mr Clark, who had been due to open the proceedings never showed, but his replacement, Matthew Carrington, MP for Fulham stressed: ‘I’m not his friend.’

RELATIONS between two leading exponents of British football may be permanently soured, I fear. Manchester City chairman, Francis Lee, has good reason to be upset with England manager, Terry Venables, on account of the-less-than-adult sense of humour of Venable’s wife, Yvette (or ‘Toots’ as I believe she likes to be called by friends).

Recently Mrs Venables played a practical joke which misfired badly on Mr Lee. During an evening in Scribes West, Mr Venable’s Kensington nightclub, she removed the Havana cigars from the inside pocket of a jacket belonging to sports agent Eric Hall, and replaced them with cigars which explode upon lighting.

However Hall, the intended target, and close friend of the Venables refrained from smoking that evening. Instead he offered one to Lee with whom he was negotiating a deal. Lee took it home with him and waited until his children were in bed, his wife had cleared away supper and he was quietly watching a videe, to smoke.

Suffice it to say that the household was woken immediately. Thankfully Mr Lee was not permanently damaged but he did have soot all over his face. . . . .and to quote Eric Hall, who got a furious midnight phone call from him: ‘I don’t think he was very pleased.’

TO THE Roy Miles Gallery in Bruton street for the opening of ‘Return to Beauty.’ Aided by a red carpet, a string quartet, pink champagne and a 1927 Bentley, Education Secretary John Patten opened the proceedings accompanied, incongruously, by Mona Bauwens. ‘Are you glad to have a breather from education?’ queried one of the crowd, looking at a lithogram of Balmoral by the Prince of Wales. Taking another pink sip, Mr Patten responded confidently: ‘But. .this is education.’

(Photographs omitted.)