Matthew Norman: Ali's sorry tale of unrequited love and the Daily Mail


It is with anguish that we address the psychiatric relapse suffered by Alastair Campbell. On his endlessly entertaining blog, Ali accuses his critics of being motivated by unrequited love. In an entry peppered with understated Nazi references, he explains away the Daily Mail's belief that he enjoys a casual relationship with the literal truth as a classic case of transference.

The disdain of mannerly editor Paul Dacre and two columnists (Peter Oborne and Quentin Letts), is solely due, he posits, to their homosexual passion for him. Those who have identified this posting as a bravely misdirected attempt at wit ignore the form book. This manifestation of narcissistic personality disorder is not the first of its kind. "What struck me most," wrote Cherie Blair of a meeting with Diana, Princess of Wales, early in 1997, "was how completely obsessed he was by the idea that she fancied him ... he kept saying to Tony, 'She really fancies me she's only asked you so that she can see me'. Although he was doing it in a jokey way, such is his ego that part of him probably really wanted to believe it."

Thirteen years on, here we go again. It is not for this column to speculate as to whether that delusion was a case of projecting his feelings for the Princess on to her, and what this might imply about his feelings for Paul now. Nor is it my business, recalling all the Nazi stuff, to reflect on the persistent hold of the Third Reich over homoerotic fantasy. But to those of us whose fears about Ali's wellbeing the years have done little to abate, this relapse is a grievous concern.

Plot spoiler

More cheerily, the publication of Ali's second novel, Maya, is imminent. With apologies for breaking the embargo, "Maya is a dark yet ultimately life-affirming historical romance, telling the tale of how the Mayan civilisation came close to destruction in 4th-century Mexico after the entire male population fell in love with a beaky-nosed, bagpipe-playing Adonis from the distant kingdom of Burnley". Available for pre-order on Amazon, Kingdom, £16.14.

Devil of a time

Ali may not be the only New Labour figure to challenge for the Booker this year. That one time wannabe Labour MP Ross Kemp (Wade as was) has also written a novel. Devil To Pay, out in July, will tell the tale of ex-soldier Nick Kane, and that's as much as we know. Ross, who recently treated Sky viewers to a nuanced examination of the Israeli-Palestinian troubles, becomes a renaissance man to rival Jonathan Miller.

The drawback is how all the other work restricts his stage career. When TV's Hardest Man made Shakespearean drama's most prophetic debut, playing Petruchio in Taming of the Shrew in 2003, two years before summoning police to his aid during a domestic with then wife Rebekah, it seemed a matter of time before he gave us his Lear. Now, perhaps, he never will.

Cameron cutie?

Touch wood the political ambitions of another media type go better. Embarking on the journo-political trail blazed by twin Tory titans Winston Churchill and Michael Gove is Sue Douglas, who vacated the Sunday Express editor's chair after translating John Major's dismissal of Europhobic colleagues as "A Bunch of Shits" into a front page headline. One of the smarter and more engaging hacks of her generation, Sue sailed through the Conservative's fast track selection procedure, and hopes for a safe seat to fight this summer. The odds aren't great, with scores of candidates after very few seats, but if Sue can get herself on to a three-strong shortlist you'd be rash to back against her.

If a leg up is required, Andrew Neil seems the man to supply it. After Sue persuaded him to buy the agency PFD, he rewarded her with the boot. The least the pretty boy could offer by way of apology is a profile-raising slot on This Week.

In the hot seat

As for the show that precedes Andrew's gurn-fest on BBC1, has Question Time ever been more laden with gravitas than on Thursday? I don't believe so. Even Colonel Andrew Roberts, the KFC heir who moonlights as an historian of the empire-besotted far right, was eclipsed by top political commentator Richard Madeley. Britain's best answer to Peggy Noonan interviewed Mr Tony Blair on Iraq, he told us, and using the antennae honed over a 30 year journalistic career was convinced the PM was telling the god's honest. Sir John Chilcot and the gang might just as well shut up shop now.

Missed a trick

Daily Mirror "Exclusive of the Week" goes to Friday's "Brown: I'll face Iraq probe before election". Typically, the reticence was as impressive as the exclusivity. The Mirror buried it on page 14, while both The Sun and the Daily Mail preferred page two.

It's torturous

We began with one of the planet's more unwittingly hilarious blogs, and so shall we end. After carefully analysing the electoral shock in Massachusetts, Melanie Phillips concludes it was all down to Obama's dislike of torture. "As Clarice Feldman notes on American Thinker," writes Mad Mel, "The key issue for Massachusetts voters was not healthcare or spending. It was national security and the treatment of enemy terrorists."

As ever, the depth of her research cannot be doubted simply because it drove her to her preferred destination. As a glance at leading US pollster Rasmussen Reports unearths, exit polling showed that 56 per cent of voters regarded healthcare as the most important issue, while 25 per cent cited the economy. You do the math.

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

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Dublin (based in London)

£20000 - £25000 per annum + commission: SThree: Real Staffing's Pharmaceutical...

Ashdown Group: Web Developer - London - £40K plus benefits - Salary negotiable

£38000 - £40000 per annum + Excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: A leading consu...

Sheridan Maine: Accounts Assistant

£12 - £15 Hourly Rate: Sheridan Maine: Are you an experienced Accounts Assista...

Sheridan Maine: Accounts Payable Clerk

£21,000 - £24,000 Annual: Sheridan Maine: Are you looking for a new opportunit...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: The masterminds behind the scenes

The masterminds behind the election

How do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? By employing these people
Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

Machine Gun America

The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

The ethics of pet food

Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?
How Tansy Davies turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

How a composer turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

Tansy Davies makes her operatic debut with a work about the attack on the Twin Towers. Despite the topic, she says it is a life-affirming piece
11 best bedside tables

11 best bedside tables

It could be the first thing you see in the morning, so make it work for you. We find night stands, tables and cabinets to wake up to
Italy vs England player ratings: Did Andros Townsend's goal see him beat Harry Kane and Wayne Rooney to top marks?

Italy vs England player ratings

Did Townsend's goal see him beat Kane and Rooney to top marks?
Danny Higginbotham: An underdog's tale of making the most of it

An underdog's tale of making the most of it

Danny Higginbotham on being let go by Manchester United, annoying Gordon Strachan, utilising his talents to the full at Stoke and plunging into the world of analysis
Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police

Steve Bunce: Inside Boxing

Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police
No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat