PLATELL’S PEOPLE: Keir Starmer will need to paper over this puerile John Lewis stunt 


Whichever spin doctor came up with the idea that Keir Starmer should appear on the campaign trail in John Lewis holding up a roll of wallpaper should be pasted against the wall and papered over permanently.

Of all the facile and stupid stunts in a week when the Prime Minister had really been on the ropes over Wallpaper-gate and the mysterious payment to redecorate his No 11 flat, this had to be the most puerile.

Awkwardly holding the wallpaper roll aloft with all the gravity of a museum curator clutching the Dead Sea Scrolls, it only made folk wonder if this was the first time the multi-millionaire lawyer had even been into the nation’s beloved store.

I’m guessing, but with a £1.8 million London home and seven acres of land in Surrey, Starmer has never had to sully his hands with wallpaper before — there are tradesmen to do that.

In one silly photo, he let Boris off the ropes, gave him time to breathe when, let’s face it, the PM is facing serious questions of probity and integrity — and four separate inquiries — into whether he lied about who stumped up for his fiancée Carrie’s passion for soft-furnishing excess.

Whichever spin doctor came up with the idea that Keir Starmer should appear on the campaign trail in John Lewis holding up a roll of wallpaper should be pasted against the wall and papered over permanently

While not excusing Boris, most men would probably have just let the missus get on with running the home while he ran the country

While not excusing Boris, most men would probably have just let the missus get on with running the home while he ran the country

And spare me any accusations of sexism or misogyny over laying even a teeny weeny part of the blame at Carrie’s door. I know that as the former head of communications for the Tory Party — a job I also once held — she’d have to be a tough, professional woman, as FoCs (Friends of Carrie) constantly brief the media.

While not excusing Boris, most men would probably have just let the missus get on with running the home while he ran the country. 

Did she, in her desire for divine décor, overreach their combined £300,000 income? It appears she did.

Guto Harri, chief adviser when Boris was London Mayor, says his shambolic former boss was so uninterested in décor he wouldn’t even notice what was on the walls, let alone the floors.

While the charges against Boris are serious, far more important is that next week nine million voters will go to the polls for local elections and a key by-election in Hartlepool.

Will we be swayed by the particular shade of gold of the PM’s wallpaper, or by the triumph of the Government’s vaccination programme, our steady path towards normality and the promise of a return to a real life after an unimaginably terrible year?

And what do Starmer and his motley crew of third-rate frontbenchers have to offer? Not a policy anyone can remember between them — just silly John Lewis stunts.

I’m betting that come next week, our PM will have the last laugh.

Hear no evil, see no evil . . .

The older brother of the London Bridge terrorist Usman Khan, 28, granted anonymity in the inquest, insists his family ‘did not turn a blind eye’ to Khan’s previous form.

Khan senior said he did not know about the police caution after a racist attack on a white pupil aged 13, nor the expulsion from school at 14, nor his extremist views, despite a picture of him waving a jihadist flag in their local newspaper.

And when he visited his brother six days before the atrocity, he said, he was acting ‘absolutely normal’.

Probably wise to have granted the man anonymity after all, for his own safety.

Helena’s worthy of the crown 

Well done Bafta for nominating Helena Bonham Carter for best supporting actress in The Crown, as she sumptuously and convincingly portrayed the complex Princess Margaret. And for not putting up Emma Corrin for best leading actress as Diana.

The only authenticity in Corrin’s one-dimensional impersonation of the Princess was her frocks, proving that clothes don’t make the woman . . . nor, indeed, the actress.

Well done Bafta for nominating Helena Bonham Carter for best supporting actress in The Crown, as she sumptuously and convincingly portrayed the complex Princess Margaret

Well done Bafta for nominating Helena Bonham Carter for best supporting actress in The Crown, as she sumptuously and convincingly portrayed the complex Princess Margaret

After Good Morning Britain’s ratings plummeted with the departure of Piers Morgan, Alastair Campbell is to fill his seat for three days during Mental Health Awareness Week.

Alastair matches Piers’s sharp wit but not his warmth. I fear he will be a weapon of mass destruction of viewers.

An unnamed actress pal of actor, writer and director Noel Clarke, who had his Bafta membership and award suspended after 20 women accused him of sexual groping and bullying, says he is vilified as ‘no one likes a man of colour to get to the top’.

I wonder whether she would use the same defence for Bill Cosby, Morgan Freeman and O.J. Simpson. 

Surely, any judgment on alleged offences against women, however powerful the man is, should first and foremost be colour-blind.

That sinking feeling 

Ship ahoy as Gwyneth Paltrow embarks on a luxury cruise collaboration offering the ‘ultimate wellness experience at sea’.

Cast away are sugar, carbs, meat and booze. Breakfast’s sunk but you can (whoopee) have vegan lunch and a tofu curry for supper.

Ship ahoy as Gwyneth Paltrow embarks on a luxury cruise collaboration offering the ‘ultimate wellness experience at sea’

Ship ahoy as Gwyneth Paltrow embarks on a luxury cruise collaboration offering the ‘ultimate wellness experience at sea’

Where’s the fun in that? My cruise around the Canaries aboard the P&O Britannia taught me the point of them is the delicious food: fry-ups for breakfast, fill-your-boots buffets and at least three servings of differing cuisines for dinner, followed by puddings washed down with wine.

I fear for Gwynnie’s venture and that after just one day she will be ‘woman overboard’.

The former rugby ace Mike Tindall admirably talks of his father’s difficulties with Parkinson’s and his mother’s stoicism.

Perhaps too candid were his revelations about wife Zara giving birth on the bathroom floor, and how he was unable to comfort his grandmother-in-law, the Queen, after her husband’s funeral as they were all ordered to ‘get in your cars and go home’.

Just guessing, but Mum’s the word regarding the monarch they call Ma’am. Hopefully he won’t find the funeral is the last royal event he is invited to.

John Cleese is condescending about Ian McKellen treading the boards as Hamlet at 81. Funny that. 

The genius behind Fawlty Towers, also 81, has been trundling round on his tedious Alimony Tour while Shakespeare lover McKellen, to paraphrase Polonius, has to his own self been true.

Westminster wars 

  • The PM dismissed Wallpaper-gate and the inquiries into who paid £58,000 for his lustrous refurb as a ‘farrago of nonsense’. Similarly, he batted away reports of his affair with Petronella Wyatt as ‘an inverted pyramid of piffle’, even though they were true. What we have learnt of Boris Johnson is that, the more lurid the language, the more likely he’s been up to no good.
  • Having perused the signature pieces of Carrie Symonds’s interior designer, Lulu Lytle, I see why Boris’s fiancée chose her. Lulu specialises in burgundy sofas, those best designed to conceal red wine spills.
  • Getting his jab from celebrity vaxer Jonathan Van-Tam, Matt Hancock manfully looks away, squeezing his eyes and insisting ‘it didn’t hurt a bit’. It might have hurt his vanity a little when he saw pictures of his man-boobs in that white T-shirt.

Channel 4 News presenter Jon Snow, 73, steps down after 32 glorious years, saying he is now ‘looking forward to new adventures and new challenges’. 

As the father of two grown-up children, and dad to a newborn son, I’m guessing that will include remembering how to change nappies.

Let’s have mischief 

How lovely were the home videos of William, Kate and their frolicking children, released for their tenth anniversary.

Yet as an aficionado of the home video genre, learned from my grandfather who recorded us Platell kids decades ago, to be really endearing, they need to be warts and all. 

Like the moment Pop told us children to line up to kiss an inflatable Santa and I punched him on the nose and was ticked off for bad behaviour, then sent the mince pies flying after wiping my nose on the tablecloth.

We don’t need the Cambridges’ kids to be picture perfect to be adorable.

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