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Londoner’s Diary: Labour united in disarray over frontbencher’s resignation

·4-min read
Andy McDonald, Shadow secretary of State for Transport, addresses the Labour Conference (PA)
Andy McDonald, Shadow secretary of State for Transport, addresses the Labour Conference (PA)

Welcome to today’s Londoner’s Diary. Today we report from Brighton’s Labour conference on the fall out from Andy McDonald’s resignation from the shadow cabinet, and other party shenanigans. And: how Jed Mercurio tried to come back and help with the pandemic, and how Nadiya Hussain is taking pride in who she is. Also, we were at the Golden Chopstick Awards with a friendly Gok Wan.

McDonald quit fallout

12:00 , Robbie Smith

LABOURITE Andy McDonald’s resignation set off Labour’s briefing wars again at the party’s conference.

“I’d forgotten he was even in the shadow cabinet,” one shadow frontbencher sighed to us at last night’s champagne-fuelled Sky party. McDonald resigned citing Sir Keir Starmer’s lack of support for a £15 minimum wage.

Not every frontbencher got the memo in time. David Lammy told an event yesterday that after “airing our dirty linen in public” for decades he hoped Labour would now stop. When we told him McDonald had just quit he said: “I’m obviously very sad to see Andy go.” Not quite the line to take for the frontbench.

Another MP despaired to us: “Queues for petrol. No meat in the shops. Margaret Thatcher used to call that the Soviet Union. Forty years later we’ve got a Tory government delivering it. Labour march under the banner of ‘unity is strength’ but seem more interested in stabbing each other in the back.”

And on Sunday night we spotted key Corbynite Seumas Milne talking to McDonald. Surely it was just a coincidence that McDonald’s resignation was so well timed?

SW1A

12:12 , Robbie Smith

SADIQ Khan took aim at one of Labour’s new favourite punch bags last night: the hapless former education secretary Gavin Williamson. The London Mayor joked at a climate change rally held by SERA: “I saw Gavin Williamson in Brighton as I was coming here and he said ‘hullo Rishi’.” Williamson may never live down confusing footballer and campaigner Marcus Rashford with rugby’s Maro Itoje.

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LISA Nandy will miss one thing about Dominic Raab — his bronzed look. “He was kind of orange by the end,” the shadow foreign secretary told a conference event yesterday. Raab refused to cut short a holdiay to Crete and lost his job as foreign secretary this month. “I guess the glow was quite pleasant.”

Golden chopsticks awards returns

13:01 , Robbie Smith

 (Nick Harvey/Rex)
(Nick Harvey/Rex)

HOST Gok Wan said he was worried he would miss the Golden Chopsticks awards celebrating East and South East Asian food in Mayfair last night. “Not because of Covid, but because I don’t fit into any of my formal suits.” The fashion expert told us he didn’t mind lockdown causing a drop in sartorial standards as people can now focus on “stuff that means more”. But Wan isn’t a fan of the return of the croc, saying: “My dad wears crocs. I hate anything that my dad wears.” Also at the Marriott Hotel Grosvenor Square were singer Tallia Storm, her mum Tessa Hartmann, and aptly named cook Juliet Sear, eating a menu designed by Ken Hom.

Dr Jed’s too long out of practice

14:05 , Robbie Smith

 (PA)
(PA)

Jed Mercurio has his hands full making BBC hits Line of Duty and Bodyguard. But the former doctor also hoped to volunteer for the NHS during the pandemic, before realising they wouldn’t let him. “I got a dropdown list that didn’t have how long out I had been… the number of years since you practised kind of ended at about five years,” Mercurio told the Evening Standard stories festival. Mercurio trained as a doctor before changing careers to scriptwriting. We’re quite glad he did.

OK to have her cake and eat it

16:01 , Robbie Smith

 (Dave Benett/Getty Images for Fortnum & Mason)
(Dave Benett/Getty Images for Fortnum & Mason)

NADIYA Hussain is letting the confidence flow through her. “I’m grateful for every opportunity, but I’m also very good at my job,” she says. “It’s taken a long time for me to say that. A woman saying that out loud is often misconstrued as ‘She’s cocky’ or ‘She’s not humble’ — but for a man, it’s ‘He’s so confident’.” The Bake Off star, right, adds: “I work in a very male, Caucasian-heavy industry, but I’ve learnt to be OK with that.” Backing yourself.

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