THE INSIDER: A weekly update from the corridors of power

Rail passengers were greeted with free books on Monday night as part of Oxford’s World Book Night celebration.

The tale on offer was Joe Simpson’s celebrated account of survival Touching The Void.

The book recounts the mountaineer’s remarkable descent of Siula Grande in the Peruvian Andes.

After breaking his leg and being left for dead barely conscious at the bottom of a deep ravine during a raging storm, Simpson summoned his inner strength to drag himself down the mountain.

That he completed such an arduous journey, against all odds, is a testament to human endurance.

It is a story beleaguered Oxford commuters will no doubt relate to.

Although many will conclude that if Simpson had had to rely on CrossCountry services, perhaps he’d still be in South America now.

With elections barely a week away, Oxford City Council’s full council meeting was a rumbustious affair on Monday night.

During one heated debate, councillor Altaf Khan stormed out.

The Insider understands the Lib Dem believed Labour’s deputy leader Ed Turner had thrown an expletive at him from across the chamber.

Mr Turner later apologised and revealed that it was not a potty-mouthed remark but a simple slip in chamber etiquette.

He had “rather unwisely” mouthed “have that” in the general direction of the opposition bench, adding: “I have learnt not to mouth things across the chamber and instead direct things through the Lord Mayor. No offence was meant.”

IAN HUDSPETH, the man hoping to beat David Robertson to be new political supremo of Oxfordshire County Council, is no doubt hoping Chelsea’s stunning defeat of Barcelona in the Champions League semi-final holds a portent.

The Chelsea fan tweeted the semi was the start of an “interesting 10 days for me”.

Given the Blues’ standing firm and resisting Barca after John Terry’s sending-off, The Insider wonders if Pete Handley’s withdrawal from the race and backing is therefore a good omen for Mr Hudspeth in tonight’s vote? Or will the wily old campaigner Robertson bag a last-minute winner?

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