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Baronesses in a catfight

The Diary raises a glass to Baroness Blatch, crowned "Peer of the Year" at the BBC and House Magazine Parliamentary Awards.

The Tory education spokeswoman in the Lords is currently grilling education minister Baroness Ashton but she made her reputation bombarding Ashton's predecessor Tessa Blackstone. The bitter exchanges between the tweedy Blatch and glacial Blackstone are a fond memory for those who saw them.

Such hostility is usually all for the camera but did things in this case get personal?

Lady Blatch told an intriguing tale at the awards ceremony about "one of my opposite numbers" refusing to follow the usual Parliamentary practice of sending a Christmas card to their shadow. The aide who suggested the gesture was reportedly told: "I will not send that bloody woman a Christmas card." Could the "opposite number" have been the forbidding Blackstone (known in the Lords as "Morticia")? Baroness Blatch said she couldn't possibly comment.

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