| Blair: 'Babe' blows whistle
London, March 27: Bollywood is not the only place where the casting couch is the alleged route to fame and fortune ' a woman politician in Britain today claimed that a cabinet minister offered her promotion in return for sex.
Fiona Jones, a former Labour MP, said a senior Labour politician, now a cabinet minister, tried to seduce her by making her an age-old offer: 'Do you know what I can do for you'
Jones, 46 and mother of two children, who lost her seat in the last general election in 2001, has written a book in which she is carrying out her threat to 'blow the lid off New Labour's female-friendly image and tell all about the astonishing sex-for-jobs culture in the Commons'.
It is no secret that the Houses of Parliament encourage sexual relationships because male MPs are away for long periods from their families, working late into the night with their secretaries or female researchers.
Over the years, dozens have ended up as second wives ' Robin Cook, the former foreign secretary, is a recent example of someone who married his secretary, Gaynor.
The former Tory MP, Edwina Currie, disclosed in her book that she had an affair with John Major before he went on to become Prime Minister.
Under Tony Blair, 101 women MPs in the Labour party, including Jones, were collectively nicknamed 'Blair's Babes'.
Another 'Blair Babe', Oona King, 37, a black woman who is Labour MP for Bethnal Green and Bow in London, has disclosed that she was offered '10,000 to have sex with a Labour MEP (member of the European parliament). She told the man to 'go to hell'.
In her book, Jones reveals that the 'slimy politician' asked for a kiss in a room full of dignitaries, sparking rumours of an affair; left flirty messages on her answering machine; cold-shouldered her the morning after she spurned his advances; and snubbed her when she was accused of rigging election expenses. She was finally cleared on appeal.
Her accounts suggest that extra-marital affairs are rife in Westminster. It is certainly the case that a former Miss India, Pamelle Bordes (aka Pamela Singh), first attracted notoriety while working as a House of Commons researcher in 1989 ' she was exposed as a '500 a night call girl.
The allegations made by Jones are printed in today's News of the World, which describes how the politician made a pass at her on the second day of the party conference in the Metropole Hotel in Brighton.
Jones recalls: 'I walked into the lift and he followed me. Then suddenly he gave me a kiss and added, 'Shall we have a chat in your room' It was obvious that he wanted sex. He was close enough for me to tell he was aroused.'
She adds: 'I was shocked and turned him down, only to be told, 'Do you know what I can do for you' It was clear what he meant. He had the power to make or break careers.'
Jones remembers another occasion when the man approached her in a room full of dignitaries. 'He wasn't even discreet. He very loudly said, 'Oh, hello Fiona, what a pleasure to see you ' don't I get a kiss' before kissing me on both cheeks. He was acting like a lovesick schoolboy.'
She goes on: 'Before that meeting he'd left a particularly gushing message on my answerphone.'
She feels the man damaged her career.
'It was all right for him,' she comments. 'He just toddled off back to London, but I was the one who had to put up with all the malicious gossip.'
The account given by Jones is backed up by her former election agent, Des Whicher: 'I noticed he was paying too much attention to Fiona. At that time it did seem like she was being schooled for promotion. She was certainly on the way up and it wasn't just because of her work.'
A postcard addressed to her husband arrived at her family home weeks before she was due to defend her seat in the 2001 election. It read: 'Your wife is committing adultery with (name deleted). We feel you ought to know. Newark doesn't want or need her. Do you'
Today Jones says: 'The House is rife with affairs. It's a hotbed of ambitious people who want to get on and will do anything to get on. When Labour came to power with 101 women MPs they had to be given some junior ministerial posts. It wasn't written down, but that's what was going to happen.'
The News of the World has not disclosed the name of the offending politicians but it has published the photographs of a number of cabinet ministers.