Matthew Norman: Gloria puts herself on the line for Gordon


If tomorrow’s historians rouse the interest to analyse media-government relations in the New Labour age, a chapter will be reserved for GMTV. The favoured conduit of both Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, who offered Fiona Phillips a peerage and a ministerial post, the breakfast station has long been an outpost for sofa government at its most literal.

So it seems reciprocal justice to find one Gloria de Piero poised to be parachuted into a safe Labour seat (Geoff Hoon’s in Notts) a month after resigning as its political editor. In that capacity, former Labour party official Gloria not only introduced presenter Kate Garraway to her husband Derek ‘Dolly’ Draper, the Mandelson aide turned New Age crystal salesman/psychotherapist. When news broke of Damian McBride and Dolly’s plan to smear the Tories almost a year ago, she also provided the News of the World with a story (about Barack Obama’s half brother being cautioned here for a public order offence and almost being refused entry for an overnight stay en route from Kenya to the inauguration in Washington) that relegated Smeargate from the front page.

How Gloria came by a story Downing Street and the Home Office must have been sitting on for three months is no less a mystery than why she reported it not for her employer but a newspaper that would otherwise have splashed with Damian and Dolly’s naughtiness. It is not for us to risk letting daylight in on the magic of GMTV’s proximity to the heart of government.

Instead, we wish Gloria luck as she attempts the most vertical rise from backroom apparatchik to elected representative since my friend Gerald Kaufman left Wilson’s kitchen cabinet for the back benches long ago.

If you can’t remember, it didn’t happen

Thanks to those of you who reported back on Mr Justice Eady’s speech launching the City University’s centre for Law, Justice and Journalism. Despite referring to his annus horribilis, Eady J seemed in buoyant spirits. The less good news is that no one raised the possibility, floated here last week, that he plans to retire this year. The closest to that came from the university’s chancellor, who referred to not wishing to write his obituary yet. Sadly, his Lordship’s privacy has been invaded by the four clips posted on YouTube, a highlight being this gem about the super-injunction. “I am not conscious that I’ve ever granted one,” he said, “but it’s conceivable that I might have done.” Well, we can’t all be Leslie Welsh the Memory Man, can we?

An attack of hysteria

On her Spectator-hosted blog, Melanie Phillips disabuses readers of the suspicion that she can be vulnerable to the lure of hysteria. Responding to Joe Biden’s criticism of Israel for building more homes in east Jerusalem, she disputes his assertion that the Palestinians deserve a state of their own.

“To put it another way,” she writes, nimbly twisting the VP’s point in vintage Mad Mel style, “why does Joe Biden think that Israel “deserves” to surrender? And why, once again, is a final solution being imposed by America on democratic and besieged Israel … ?” Is it me being fanciful here, or might MM be using that “final solution” subtly to compare Barack Obama with Hitler … a tactic previously reserved for the more ostentatiously in-bred extremity of the Tea Party spectrum?

If social services continue to ignore these cries for help, it can’t be long before five people line up on a news conference platform to announce their resignations.

Mouth where his money is

Showing no signs of enfeeblement is Rupert Murdoch. The digital media whizz, who recently asked an interviewer to confirm that “online” is the same as “the internet”, has been to Abu Dhabi, where he is keen to expand his interests, for a “Media Summit”.

In a wide ranging keynote speech, he was as uncloyingly complimentary to his Arab hosts as he has been on visits to China. “The West rediscovered Aristotle through Arab translations” was one gem (Rupert refuses help with his speeches, by the way, ever relying on his own reservoir of esoteric knowledge); warmly congratulating the locals on the oil without which the world’s leading economies “would grind to a halt” another; and, linking himself and that emirate as equal victims of an envious global press yet a third.

The delicacy of Rupert’s seduction technique with a potential cash cow never fails to enchant.

Cruel intentions

I was startled on Friday to turn on the radio just before 7am and hear Jim Naughtie being tested by Sarah Montague on words he was supposed to have memorised.

As a follow up diagnostic exercise for those who have failed correctly to answer the nice doctor’s question about the identity of the Prime Minister, that’s fine. Making a Today presenter do it live on air do it seemed cruel and unnecessary.

Heart of gold?

Self-effacing Sun man Gordon Smart seems a real sweetheart. The Bizarre editor, best known for greatly exaggerating the death of Chris Moyles’s career as Radio 1’s breakfast DJ, had quite a scoop with Mark Owen’s drunken infidelities – one of those red top elegances in which someone grassed up to a tabloid is offered the easy way or the hard one.

Mr Owen took the easy way, inevitably, confessing all in return for slightly softer coverage. Yet just as with the cane-swishing housemaster delivering six of the best, it seemed to hurt the punisher more than the punished. “He’s had the strength to admit his weaknesses,” wrote a saddened Gordon in a box on the side of the page, “unlike other heartless, cheating stars. He showed genuine remorse when we met yesterday.” Lovely fella, as I said.