Matthew Norman's Media Diary

Mel and Josh: let battle commence

IT IS with a faint but noticeable air of self-doubt that we begin today with a glimpse into the home-life of my old friend Melanie Phillips of the Daily Mail, and her husband Joshua Rozenberg. The last time I mentioned the pair, after they'd been surveyed silently reading newspapers while dining in a north London pizzeria, Melanie publicly cited the reference as a grave intrusion on her privacy, and I have spent years being tortured by the complaint.

However, since Mel works for a paper with a record of investigating the contents of people's bins, when it feels the need arises, I hope she'll understand if we examine an explosive conflict of opinion that may, or may not, threaten the harmony. Last week, in a typically original tour de force, Mad Mel unleashed a savage assault upon the Human Rights Act which so upsets her by suggesting, as it does, that sending wrongdoers home to torture and death isn't necessarily the signature of a civilised nation. Mr Blair's human rights law "has quite simply altered the entire legal and moral culture of this country, and taken an axe to common sense", she said. Further, it has "created a culture of legalised lunacy ... The usual suspects scream that it would be unthinkable to abolish 'human rights'. How absurd." Not much doubt there then. Over in The Daily Telegraph on the very same day, however, Joshua approached the issue from another angle. "Contrary to the impression given by the Government and my old lady Mad Mel Phillips," he began his article (I may have invented the second half of that clause; I'm not quite sure), "amendments to the Human Rights Act 1998 are both unlikely and unnecessary." Josh went on to explain to Telegraph readers, with great clarity, why newspapers distort a piece of legislation which is perfectly adequate for the task as it stands, and why repealing it would be an absurdity. Whether he can explain it in language the missus can understand is another matter, but things cannot go on as they are. Something has to give in Muswell Hill.

SHOULD THIS dispute spiral out of control, perhaps the Rozenberg-Phillipses would consider professional help. If so, and if they're prepared to wait until he qualifies, I commend them to Michael Kallenbach, formerly a columnist on The Sun, who has bravely foregone the joys of Wapping to train as a relationship therapist. Last week Michael married his long-standing boyfriend, and we send them congrats. Whether Mel would approve of such a ceremony is debatable, but a colleague wrote a very sweet paragraph on the matter. What is going on when the Mail takes such a warm stance on gay wedlock? "Political correctness gone mad," would seem the term.

* SPEAKING OF which, Son of PC Gone Mad, Simon Heffer's wistfully haunting rites-of-passage memoir about growing up in Southend as the son of a beat bobby, is poised to return. The next extract will come from Simon's university days, when he is framed for nicking, of all things, a policeman's helmet on Boat Race night. In the meantime, hats off for a spirited Telegraph piece about the horror for the English of being governed by Scots. I will scour the archive for an old article by Simon railing about the iniquity of the Scots being ruled by the English and, specifically, being treated like pit-canaries, and exposed to some of Mrs Thatcher's less elegant policies before they were unleashed elsewhere, and may report back soon.

* A FORTNIGHT since Steve McClaren was appointed as Sven Goran Eriksson's successor, and still no public apology from Jonathan Pearce for informing Grandstand viewers that Alan Curbishley would get the job. But it could be a race against a certain Steve Stammers. Mr Stammers, now with the Sunday Mirror, assured readers of the London Evening Standard in February that Gerry Francis, the sporter of the last mullet in the West, was on the verge of a "shock appointment" to the England set up. "Sorry" doesn't have to be the hardest word, boys. You'll feel a million times better when it's done.

* I KNOW I'll feel better in a moment, when on behalf of the entire British media I've apologised for ruining the Mills-McCartney marriage. The persecution of Heather, whose distaste for cameras and feature-articles borders on a full-blown phobia, was despicable, and we wish her a long period of the privacy she so transparently craves.

* SETTLING ADROITLY into his new post as Leader of the House, Jack Straw enjoyed a high-powered Commons exchange with the Charles-Hawtrey-lookalike Chris Mullin over the style and salaries of newsreaders. "On the issue of whether newscasters should prance around the studios or sit at a desk and read the news," said this much-underrated political thinker, "which is what they are paid for - and too much - personally I prefer the latter to the former." One can see how a colleague of the workaholic John Prescott would be irked by people earning vast chunks for doing next to nothing, but I must warn Mr Straw that if he has Huw Edwards in mind he should watch his step. Huw not only reads the news, as he likes to make clear, but also writes it, edits it, produces it, directs it, operates the cameras and cleans the studio when he's done. One more snide word from Mr Straw, and off come the gloves.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Ashdown Group: Marketing Executive - Urgent Requirement - Central Manchester

£20000 - £23000 per annum + 20 days holidays & pension: Ashdown Group: Marketi...

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey/ South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey / South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Guru Careers: Social Media Executive / SEO Executive

£20 - 25K + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Social Media...

Day In a Page

Major medical journal Lancet under attack for 'extremist hate propaganda' over its coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict

Lancet accused of 'anti-Israel hate propaganda' over coverage of Gaza conflict

Threat to free speech as publishers of renowned medical journal are accused of inciting hatred and violence
General Election 2015: Tories and Lib Dems throw their star names west to grab votes

All noisy on the Lib Dems' western front

The party has deployed its big guns in Cornwall to save its seats there. Simon Usborne heads to the heart of the battle
How Etsy became a crafty little earner: The online market has been floated for £1.2bn, but can craft and capitalism coexist?

How Etsy became a crafty little earner

The online market has been floated for £1.2bn, but can craft and capitalism coexist?
Guy Ritchie is the latest filmmaker to tackle King Arthur - one of our most versatile heroes

King Arthur is inspiring Guy Ritchie

Raluca Radulescu explains why his many permutations - from folk hero to chick-lit hunk - never cease to fascinate
Apple Watch: Will it live up to expectations for the man or woman on the street?

Apple Watch: Will it live up to expectations?

The Apple Watch has apparently sold millions even before its launch tomorrow
Don't fear the artichoke: it's a good cook's staple, with more choice than you'd think

Don't fear the artichoke

Artichokes are scary - they've got spikes and hairy bits, and British cooks tend to give them a wide berth. But they're an essential and delicious part of Italian cuisine
11 best men's socks

11 best men's socks

Make a statement with your accessories, starting from the bottom up
Paul Scholes column: Eden Hazard would be my Player of the Year – but I wonder if he has that appetite for goals of Messi or Ronaldo

Paul Scholes column

Hazard would be my Player of the Year – but I wonder if he has that appetite for goals of Messi or Ronaldo
Frank Warren: Tyson Fury will be closely watching Wladimir Klitschko... when he wins it'll be time to do a deal

Frank Warren's Ringside

Tyson Fury will be closely watching Wladimir Klitschko... when he wins it'll be time to do a deal
London Marathon 2015: Kenya's brothers in arms Wilson Kipsang and Dennis Kimetto ready to take on world

Kenya's brothers in arms take on world

Last year Wilson Kipsang had his marathon record taken off him by training partner and friend Dennis Kimetto. They talk about facing off in the London Marathon
Natalie Bennett interview: I've lost track of the last time I saw my Dad but it's not because I refuse to fly

Natalie Bennett interview: I've lost track of the last time I saw my Dad

Green leader prefers to stay clear of her 'painful' family memories but is more open about 'utterly unreasonable' personal attacks
Syria conflict: Khorasan return with a fresh influx of fighters awaiting the order to start 'shooting the birds'

Khorasan is back in Syria

America said these al-Qaeda militants were bombed out of the country last year - but Kim Sengupta hears a different story
General Election 2015: Is William Cash the man to woo Warwickshire North for Ukip?

On the campaign trail with Ukip

Is William Cash the man to woo Warwickshire North?
Four rival Robin Hood movies get Hollywood go-head - and Friar Tuck will become a superhero

Expect a rush on men's tights

Studios line up four Robin Hoods productions
Peter Kay's Car Share: BBC show is the comedian's first TV sitcom in a decade

In the driving seat: Peter Kay

Car Share is the comedian's first TV sitcom in a decade. The programme's co-creator Paul Coleman reveals the challenges of getting the show on the road