Page last updated at 17:22 GMT, Friday, 20 February 2009

Westminster Diary

Welcome to our round-up of snippets from the corridors of power.


'I think everybody is sad about the tragedy that has befallen Jane Goody'

For a man who has never seemed entirely comfortable with the more tabloid-friendly aspects of his job, Gordon Brown has mostly managed to sound the right note this week on the plight of Jade Goody - the reality TV star with terminal cancer who is getting married this weekend. But just how closely is he following the story? "I think everybody is sad about the tragedy that has befallen Jane Goody," said the PM earlier as he toured a factory in his native Fife.


"If I had been chancellor," declared Ken Clarke on Thursday's World at One, as he was quizzed about public spending growth, before hastily correcting himself: "Or if George Osborne had been chancellor..." Could Gordon Brown's jibe about Mr Clarke being the "shadow shadow chancellor" be closer to the mark than the Conservatives would like to admit?


'She was probably there for a third of the time'

Jacqui Smith must be wishing she had made a bit more of an effort with the neighbours. They are practically queuing up to drop her in it over allegations, currently being looked at by the Parliamentary standards commissioner, that she does not spend as much time as she should at her "main home" in London, despite claiming 116,000 in allowances over the past five years on her "second home" in Redditch. The latest neighbour to come out of the woodwork chose the low-profile environs of BBC One's flagship political discussion programme Question Time to share his observations on the home secretary's comings and goings. The man, who works from home, claimed Ms Smith spends about a third of her time at the London address, which belongs to Ms Smith's sister.


It was only a matter of time really. Jack Straw is the latest in an ever growing list of Labour figures to be touted as the next leader. The canny Justice Secretary - who was campaign manager for both Tony Blair and Gordon Brown when they made their leadership bids and could teach the younger generation a thing or two about "positioning" - has topped a poll of potential successors conducted by the Politics Home website. Mr Straw was backed by 19% of the 984 people surveyed, well ahead of nearest rival David Miliband, on 15% and Alan Johnson on 9%. Harriet Harman, whose name has been mentioned more than most in the current round of speculation, scores just 5%.


There is concern over at Lib Dem HQ about leader Nick Clegg's Wikipedia profile, which has been the victim of vandalism in recent weeks. At one point his entire profile was briefly replaced by a one line message far too rude to be repeated on a family website. In other incidents, he was described as a "namby pamby liberal" and wrongly named as a member of hip hop collective the Wu Tang Clan.

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