Pandora: Come and work for Labour ? for nothing

Author: By Henry Deedes

“Did you know that it’s 10 years since Labour passed the National Minimum Wage Act ensuring fair pay for a hard day’s work? Since then, millions of people have benefited,” he writes. “Can you imagine living today on as little as £1.38 an hour? That’s what people were earning while David Cameron and other Tories were campaigning against the National Minimum Wage.”

Heartfelt as Mr McFadden’s words no doubt are, some of his colleagues aren’t exactly afraid of scrimping on the hired help. A glance at the jobs being advertised around Westminster reveals there are two intern positions up for grabs. One is available with Diane Abbott, the MP who has a little sideline as a pundit on the weekly politics show This Week. The other is with Barbara Follett, wife of the author Ken, who earlier this year, we learnt, spent £1,600 of taxpayers’ money having the windows on her London flat cleaned.

For all their efforts, neither of the successful candidates will be paid. “There is a scope within the rules for unpaid work experience people,” says a spokesman for the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform. “But there are rules surrounding the time they can be unpaid, and that can’t be abused.”

Alfie to return to the stage

The last time Lily Allen’s precocious brother Alfie trod the boards ? in Peter Shaffer’s Equus ? it was in his birthday suit. His next performance won’t be quite so revealing.

Last night it was announced that Allen would be making a guest appearance at the Edinburgh Festival today in the Portobello Pantomime’s production, Somewhere Over the Westway. The play, described as “a bling-tastic modern-day urban punk panto version of the Wizard of Oz” is co-written by Allen’s half sister Sarah Owen.

Organisers are also hoping that Allen’s girlfriend Jaime Winstone will be joining the cast next week.

Melly’s monument

A signal honour for George Melly, who residents of Brecon would like to see immortalised in stone. Visitors to the forthcoming Brecon Jazz Festival, which kicks off on Thursday, will be asked to pledge a donation for a statute of the late jazz icon to be built in the town centre.

“George loved the festival and he loved fly fishing in the Usk nearby,” says one local.

“Though sadly he had to put a stop to the latter once his knees packed in.”

Amstell’s bongo jam

Nice to see Simon Amstell getting in the spirit of things up in Edinburgh.

On Sunday evening, Pandora’s questing vole on the ground spotted the gawky comedian chatting with festival goers in the edgy hang-out the Forest Cafe.

“They all broke into a melody of Elton John songs,” I’m told. “Simon was on the bongos. They were pretty crap, but hey ho, I suppose it’s all part of the fun.”

Smith shows support

I hope relations are all fine between the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Yvette Cooper, and her PPS, Angela Smith, which were said to be strained earlier when Smith threatened to resign over the 10p tax band. I only ask because Smith was very vocal in her support for David Miliband over the weekend.

When the time comes for Cooper’s hubby, Ed Balls, to nail his colours to the mast, I trust Smith will be equally supportive.

Lib Dems also tinker with polls

Further to my story last week which revealed that an over-zealous Tory staffer was attempting to influence an online poll on David Cameron, it emerges that the Liberal Democrats have been doing a little tinkering of their own.

To coincide with Cameron’s holiday in Cornwall, the Western Morning News was asking its readers last week whether they thought the Conservative leader would be good for the West Country. Sensing a PR coup, a galley slave from the Cornish constituency office of the Liberal Democrat frontbencher Julia Goldsworthy, pictured, decided to rally his colleagues.

“Please vote NO in this poll,” he wrote in an email. “We want to avoid a headline saying that ’90 per cent say Cameron would be good for West Country’ being printed in the paper.”

They’re all at it!

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