Diary – June 9, 1994


While talk of a Cabinet reshuffle fills the hours of senior Tories nervously awaiting the Euro-election results, the juniors are planning their own manoeuvres. The group of Tory special advisers – commonly referred to as ‘the brat pack’ on account of their inexperience outside politics – has been seen plotting.
First David Cameron, the whippersnapper who made it to numero uno in the Treasury as Norman Lamont’s special adviser, but now plays second fiddle to Patrick Rock in the Home Office, was seen drinking with Douglas Hurd and Maurice Fraser, Hurd’s special adviser for many years.

It is quite conceivable that Cameron, who is on the list of would-be parliamentary candidates, feels the need to broaden his Whitehall horizons and involve himself in foreign affairs. After his drink with Hurd and Fraser, he took himself off to Hong Kong, where he met up with his old pal Edward Llewellyn, another Tory Central Office protege – and now a special adviser to Chris Patten.

Perhaps they negotiated a swap, should Fraser not want to move. . .or in case Hurd loses the office of Foreign Secretary. Of course, should Michael Howard be moved to that post, then Cameron might well go with him, and all these efforts will be in vain – but that, after all, is politics.

It is most strange but Jonathan Dimbleby, scheduled, unsurprisingly you might think, to introduce this year’s Richard Dimbleby Lecture on BBC Television on Sunday night, was about the 14th choice of the selectors.

While Stella Rimington, head of M15, was appointed to deliver the lecture early this year, the most bizarre kerfuffle went on in the search for a presenter.

First choice David Dimbleby was too busy with the Euro-elections; next in line were all sorts of BBC bigwigs, including Marmaduke Hussey, who all declined for one reason or another. Eventually, after much head-scratching, the powers that be turned to Jonathan. . .’ah, of course, he’s related. . .’

At least Dimbleby Jnr appears fairly relaxed about their approach: ‘Well, David, Duke and myself have all done it before,’ he said yesterday.

Belated D-Day comemmorations are planned for September by the Ancient Order of Druids – not, as expected, in a natural temple such as Stonehenge, but in the distinctly tree-less surroundings of Earls Court. Ceremonials will include a ritual and sacred fire-burning session and white robes are de rigueur. . .horrified residents need not evacuate their premises. I’m assured all will be safe, if not discreet: the Druids are inviting the Press, murmuring something about ‘improving our image’.

SOS: Angela Rippon, broadcaster and mistress extraordinaire of the tango and quickstep, has lost her dancing partner for London City Ballet’s summer gala at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, on Sunday. Ms Rippon, 49, who will compere the event, was due to dance with Wayne Sleep. Sadly, Sleep’s mother died earlier this week and he has had to pull out, leaving Ms Rippon partnerless. Those wishing to step in should know that the tune for the jaunt was Just A Couple of Swells, but I am ignorant as to the finer points of the choreography. I guess there will be a sudden opening: she will stand seriously at the microphone. . .then off comes the long skirt, and away she twirls, not a whisker of hair moving.

(Photograph omitted)