Matthew Norman: Time for Jack Straw's renditionto Libya?


Click to follow

Could George Galloway's widely ridiculed mis-tweet about Respect's by-election being in Blackburn prove a self-fulfilling prophecy? I only ask because even Jack Straw, below, would struggle to brazen it out and remain the MP for Blackburn if he was nicked on suspicion of colluding in the torture of Abdelhakim Belhaj.

Jack's claims to ignorance of Mr Belhaj's kidnap in Bangkok and rendition to Tripoli in 2004 have suffered another setback. The Mail on Sunday quotes one diplomat saying he "was shown certain papers and accepted that he had known about it" ("bullied into owning up", in English, "by those desperate to cover their backs"); and another describing Jack's repeated denials of any knowledge as "an unexpected loss of memory" (to translate once again, "giant whoppers"). There would be a certain symmetrical charm if the Met rendered the adorable scamp to Tripoli, where interrogators may have ways of jogging a sluggish memory.

Yet we bleeding hearts cannot condone torture even for him. What we may do is expect him to resign his seat were he to become the subject of a criminal investigation. If so, with Blackburn having the country's third-highest proportion of Muslim voters, George's mis-tweet may soon look uncannily prescient.


A new outlet for Lembit's cheek

How long before a TV film does for a more recent Liberal deity what The Gathering Storm did for Churchill, immortalising the wilderness years of Lembit Opik?

Since his weird rejection by the voters of Montgomeryshire, Lembit has rebuilt his reputation with stints in Ant 'n' Dec's jungle and on Celebrity Come Dine with Me.

Now he shines the light of his uniqueness on wrestling. On Friday, he emerged from the crowd at Welshpool Town Hall to berate the 20 stone Black Country grappler Kade Callous like a deranged old woman waving her handbag at Mick McManus.

Taunted for cowardice, he then entered the ring, allowing Mr Callous to caress his throat in an armlock and consenting to a rematch on 2 June. The late Kent Walton firmly expects him to model himself on Jackie Pallo, the proto-cheeky boy of grappling whose signature moves included sneaking up on opponents and touching their bums.