I'm not at liberty to divulge a word, of course, but...

The Agreeable World of Wallace Arnold

There are a great many things that those of you on the outside will never know. The famous Arnold lips must remain sealed, for instance, on the true story behind Miss Bernadette Devlin. I am not one to brag about my inside knowledge to the casual readers of Sunday newspapers.

Oh, very well then! The true story behind Miss (Mssss!) Bernadette Devlin - vouchsafed to me over a most agreeable luncheon with Lord Rees-Mogg and the late Lord Goodman at The Beefsteak Club in the April of 1971 - is, of course, that she was not only actively encouraged but sponsored to stand as the MP for Mid-Ulster in that year by the British government, as a means of diverting media attention from the potentially disastrous launch of the Anglo-French supersonic airliner Concorde.

And there are quite a few stories I could tell you about Concorde but won't! A man in my position, with dear friends in the highest reaches of the British government, has learnt to keep his mouth shut on secrets concerning the national interest. But I can tell you this, and no more: Concorde was developed with the full knowledge of MI5 to divert the attention of the world's media away from - how shall I put it? - uncertainties surrounding the marriage of Princess Margaret and Lord Snowdon.

And therein lies a tale in itself, I need hardly say! Whenever I see newspaper "exclusives" on the love-life of Princess Margaret-Rose, I do my level best to suppress a knowing smile. For I am one of those - and we are only a handful - fully acquainted with the "inside story" of that extraordinary marriage. But I would never tell a soul. One does not arrive at my position in life without having earned one's spurs in the war against indiscretion.

Nevertheless, I am quite prepared to take my readers to one side - on a purely personal basis, you understand and "tip them the wink" as to the reasons behind the marriage of Princess Margaret. Between these two walls, I have it on the very best authority that this strange union, including all its ups and downs, was orchestrated at the very highest level by an inner committee composed of Generals, politicians and senior editors, in order to divert public attention from their secret plans for Britain's entry into what was then the Common Market.

Quite how successful that strategy was can be judged by our present subservience to the iron boot of Maastricht. But then, of course, it is now widely known to a narrow circle that our entry into the Common Market was far from being "the whole story". Over breakfast at the Savoy Grill in the mid-Eighties, I recall being told that it was no more than a diversionary tactic, a brilliant smokescreen to cover up the immense dangers posed by the emergence of Mr Arthur Scargill as President of the National Union of Mineworkers.

Have I said too much? I do hope not. It is not for a newspaper columnist of my distinction to divulge to his reader or readers anything of importance he has been told over the course of a busy life. But the brighter among you will already have twigged as to the reasons behind the extraordinary success of Mr Scargill as a left-wing firebrand in the Britain of the 1980s.

One need only ask oneself what happened in 1983, the year leading up to that most successful of all smokescreens, the 1984 Miners' Strike, led by - guess who? - none other than the very same Mr Arthur Scargill. The answer is, of course, that 1983 saw the election of the new young Member of Parliament for Tatton, the impetuous Mr Neil Hamilton. But the growing discontent among Mr Scargill and his merry men meant that Mr Neil Hamilton's entry into the citadel of power passed virtually unnoticed. Fascinating stuff, I think you will agree.

Yet just one further thread remains to be unravelled. You will have guessed it by now. Why Neil Hamilton? Why al Fayed? And why Mr Martin Bell? Over a sumptuous dinner-dance with good friends in the Admiralty last night, I was informed - strictly on a top-secret basis - that Messrs Hamilton, al Fayed and Bell were, despite all appearances, close colleagues fully supported in their actions by what one might loosely term the British Establishment.

Why? Ask yourselves what other event of significance occurred this week. The answer, of course, is the marriage of Mr Liam Gallagher to Miss Patsy Kensit. I can now reveal that The Hamilton Affair has been no more than a brilliant diversionary tactic to distract the world's attention from this potentially catastrophic union, with its disastrous repercussions for the nation's youth. But please, I beg you, keep this information to yourselves. If ever it got out, my reputation for discretion would be in smithereens. Mum's the word!

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