THE diplomatic pitfalls of gift-giving have been well trodden, but now David Cameron has stumbled into one of his own. What could the PM give Barack Obama, along with an artwork, when he went to Washington last week?

Having seen the Obamas proudly showing off their new vegetable garden at the White House, Cameron hit upon the idea of a pair of Hunter Wellies. Oops.

The Hunter Wellington boot company was not long ago bought by Conservative party treasurer Baron Jonathan Marland, who provoked fury in Dumfries, where the company was based, by promptly moving production to China, leading to substantial job losses.

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Local Labour MP Russell Brown fulminated: "I have written to the prime minister to ask him to come to Dumfries and apologise for this insensitive blunder." This time, take some chocolates.


IT FALLS to rotund Communities Secretary Eric Pickles to finally show that the new compassionate Conservatives are just as hard line as any of their predecessors.

At his new office in Victoria, northern England's most famous (only, take your pick) Tory reveals that he has hung a portrait of Che Guevara. Why? To remind him that "the cigar-chomping commies are not going to take over on my watch."


THE decision by the Scottish Government to turn down the offer of free flights to Washington and an afternoon at the Senate to give evidence to their hearing on Lockerbie will come as a great disappointment to all those who were hoping of a reprise of George Galloway's performance there.

Georgeous provided one of the highlights of the political decade when he testified over his alleged role in an oil-for-aid deal with Iraq, emerging victorious from the joust. Galloway, right, was on the air waves yesterday, accusing MacAskill and Salmond of not being "man enough" to go. This begs the question: if Kenny MacAskill won't go, can't Galloway go in his stead? It would liven up a quiet Thursday.


TALK is that Ed and David Miliband are falling out on the hustings trail. But the younger brother is not backing down. In an interview in lefty-bible the New Statesman this weekend, he declares that talk of him being the "heart" candidate and David being the "head" candidate are wrong. "I'm the head and heart candidate. I have a story of how to win," he declares.

So what does that leave David as? The bum candidate? Still, at least in the same interview, it emerges that the brothers have agreed on one thing: they are to give their second preference votes to one another. Ahhhhh.

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