From blue fingers to blue allegiances, and the blue faces of Barbon’s Southampton-bound staff, the Insider covers it all

More tales from the Bear Grylls of Lloyd's, Besso's Roddy-Caxton Spencer. He's already conquered the freezing mountains of the Himalayas, yachted across the world's most dangerous oceans and run across the world's hottest deserts. So his next mission, a simple slog through the North Pole, should have been a doddle. But wait. I'm told the project has been shelved. Not for Roddy's lack of enthusiasm, but because of business commitments. Remembering with a certain sadistic pleasure the last time he got frostbite, Roddy whines: “I really wanted to be with them. They were battling -60°C temperatures.” Business before pleasure, I guess.

We’re all off to sunny … Southampton

Madrid. What a lovely place. Imagine a nice little break there. Fancy a trip to the world-famous Prado Museum to gaze at Goya’s amazing paintings? Or how about a little trip to the world-famous Bernabeu to watch ex-Man United star Ronaldo display his dazzling skills. All bathed in glorious sunshine, of course. Staff at Barbon were heading for Madrid on a sales conference when, you guessed it, the Icelandic volcano erupted and the trip was canned. What did they get instead? Southampton. Which to you and me means British weather, a smelly cargo harbour and football under West Ham failure Alan Pardew. Oh well, I suppose it's better than nothing.

General rejection

How insurance-friendly will the House of Commons be after the general election? Most likely to get in after next Thursday’s poll is ex-Halifax General Insurance executive David Rutley, who is fighting the Tory safe seat of Macclesfield for the party. His fellow Conservative, Melanie Hampton, founder of upmarket west London broker Alexander Miller, faces more of an uphill struggle to overturn a nearly 13,000-seat Labour majority to win the south London seat of Mitcham and Morden.

But the insurance industry is unlikely to lose much sleep over a certain Philippa Roberts’ dim chances of becoming Labour MP for Hereford and South Herefordshire. Roberts notes that in her potted biography, she “worked in insurance for a few years before deciding it was not the career for me”. Voters in the constituency, where Labour barely retained its deposit at the last election, look likely to reach a similar verdict about Roberts.

Even brokers get the blues

There was a right commotion down at Leadenhall Market when I strolled through last Friday. “Those RSA boys have started early,” I thought to myself. That was until I turned round and saw the shiny forehead of Conservative party leader David Cameron and scarecrow haircut of London mayor, Boris Johnson, who together had drawn a huge crowd. It was, of course, St George’s Day and the pair of Tories were drumming up some patriotic support in the place where insurers and brokers can usually be found getting tanked up. Who am I to rain on their parade?

Making Provident plans

The Provident rumour-mill continues to cause havoc. With the deadline for bids just weeks away, speculation about a management buyout at the motor insurer continues to gather pace. The latest bit of tittle-tattle sees former Provident managing director Mark Collier returning to the business as a central figure in the MBO. Collier most recently had a stint at BGL, before leaving last January, and is certainly raising a few suspicions. IT