Amanda Platell knows who can save the Tories

Watch out, Labour: the man from Oz who turned Howard into a success story is coming

Finally, some good news for the Tories. They have managed to convince the genius behind the Australian prime minister John Howard's re-election to come and work for their very own Howard. Lynton Crosby has just helped John Howard to his impressive fourth electoral victory, as well as masterminding the past three. To secure his help for Michael Howard is a brilliant appointment for a desperate political party.

The Telegraph's Minx media column, named after the talented deputy editor Sarah Sands, has bitten the dust - not because it wasn't any good, but because the Barclay brothers have a pathological hatred of appearing in diaries themselves and, in their naivety, thought canning it might spare them from other newspaper columns. In their dreams. Some say the death of the Minx indicates a waning of Sands's star. I hope not. She is one of the cleverest female executives around and, God knows, there are too few of that breed to start culling them now.

I fear the end is near for Michael Parkinson and his new multimillion-pound move to ITV. His line-up at the weekend culminated in a star turn by Donny Osmond, who I've seen more times on GMTV in the past year than Eamonn Holmes. It's become the ultimate in "cuts" TV - "I read in . . ." says Parky, and "Didn't you say in . . ." he continues. The chances are that, if he's read it, so have we. Anyone who can make

the marvellous, clever and funny Jeremy Clarkson look dull deserves to fail.

Kate Winslet looked gorgeous in that blue Ben de Lisi dress at the premiere of her new film. The 29-year-old has a wonderful face, is fabulously rich (and therefore hardly has to work), and has a famous husband who's not short of a bob either, as well as two healthy children. She is right to count her blessings. What makes me feel nauseous is the way she goes on and on about how comfortable she is about ageing, and how she is against cosmetic surgery. "I'm happy with the way I'm growing older," she says. At 29, you haven't got the first idea about what it's like to get older, Kate - so shut up now while you're still ahead, before anyone starts asking questions about why your forehead never moves.

Other than luck, the one thing that a politician can't do without is the judgement gene. Boris Johnson showed he lacks it with his attack on Liverpool after the murder of the Iraq hostage Kenneth Bigley. The Tory leader, Michael Howard, only made matters worse by forcing a public apology from the darling of the party. It's a shame Howard wasn't so swift to wring an apology from Ann Winterton after her disgusting joke about cockle-pickers in Morecambe Bay. Initially, Winterton steadfastly refused even to apologise, on the grounds that the joke had been made at a private meeting - so it's OK to be a racist in private, then? And so, to every Tory who defended Winterton, saying what a good egg she really was, I would like to point out that she has not held one constituency surgery in 21 years.

We've already had one Tory deselected. Isn't it time for a second?

This article first appeared in the 25 October 2004 issue of the New Statesman, America - God, gays and guns