Matthew Norman: Oh Mandy, you gave without taking

Diary

If heaven truly loveth a sinner that repenteth, the celestial choir must be singing endless hosannahs today in adoration of Peter Mandelson. His lordship's declaration of war against Rupert Murdoch is as convincing an act of penitence as any since Jonathan Aitken sheathed the trusty sword of British justice to embrace Christian humility.

In defence of Ofcom, which David Cameron promised to dismantle shortly before the Sun switched allegiance, Mandy has strong words for News Corporation. He accuses Mr Murdoch of endangering the traditions of British broadcasting, and threatening the media impartiality of which there has been no doughtier defender than Mandy himself. How long ago it seems that Mr Tony Blair arrived at a Christmas party at the home of Rupert's daughter Elisabeth, and Mandy was mingling on Corfu with Lis and husband Matthew Freud. It's even longer ago, in 1998, that I asked the then Trade Secretary what specifically petrified the old goat about a more politically integrated Europe. "What you need to understand," said Mandy, "is that on its own no government is strong enough to stand up to Murdoch. But together ..." That was then. Where this conversion on the Road to Opposition will lead is anyone's guess, but two edicts seem inevitable. The first is that, before joining the coming election campaign, Alastair Campbell must end his cosy relationship with The Times. The second is a retroactive windfall tax on News Corp to recover the billions it has avoided paying since 1997. A public mea culpa from Mandy for naively trusting in Mr Murdoch's impartiality is optional. But it would be nice.

A judge's pain

Also enjoying a dramatic deathbed conversion is Jack Straw. The Injustice Secretary suddenly develops the urge to reform our draconian libel laws. It's a lovely thought, but the timing couldn't be worse. Only last week our High Court friend David Eady revealed his distress at media criticism. Unnamed "friends" (we can rule out the Appeal Court judges who so rudely keep reversing him) said that he is "profoundly hurt" by the attacks. Awww, we love you really, Eady J, just as you love us. Now be a brave little soldier, dry those salty tears, and get working on a plan to thwart that beastly Straw's ambition to curtail your power.

Porn free

A friend reports a novelty on visiting BBC TV Centre last Monday lunchtime. Standing in the area known as "stage door", where tour parties congregate, she found herself facing a bank of nine screens showing BBC News Channel, CBeebies, trailers for forthcoming shows, and so on. In the bottom middle box, meanwhile, she was intrigued to note a foreign language film in which a prostitute, possibly Brazilian, was languidly fellating a gentleman caller in a toilet. Then the location moved to the street outside, where a bunch of her colleagues, clad only in silver thongs and merrily waving their breasts, advertised their wares. "Get off my patch, you tart," ran a subtitle. A group of pensioners shuffled past the screens en route to their coach while a group of disabled people wheeled by in the other direction, all in blissful ignorance, and another serene White City afternoon sidled on towards dusk.

Blog jam

I am more concerned than ever about Jon Gaunt. When Gaunty's Sun column was ditched in October, the consolation was that we were promised a daily blog. But after a few early postings, this appears to have ceased. He wants to study Melanie Phillips's work rate. Mad Mel can blog thrice daily when the mood takes, and never fails to raise a chuckle. I haven't got round to the entry headlined "Less Than Qualified Punditry", but it must be that belated apology for promoting the false link between MMR and autism that led to a measles epidemic. After that humiliation, MM wouldn't dream of disguising any private hunches about global warming and leaked emails as informed scientific opinion. She's not daft you know.

Pad power

The Vulcan mind-meld between Andrew Neil and Fraser Nelson sustains. On Friday, Spectator editor Fraser reassured worried Guardian readers that Labour's tactic of banging on about Eton has little impact on voting intentions. Frankly, I was terrified that Andrew, who has long delighted us with his disdain for entrenched privilege, would take deep umbrage. But a trip to his BBC blog revealed his agreement that voters aren't interested in the class warfare of which he's finally tired. He even posited (taxi to Bletchley, taxi to Bletchley) that Gordon Brown "is just as privileged as Mr Cameron". There is no firm indication as to when Fraser means to replace his lustrous head of hair with a scouring pad, but Paddy Power makes early February its 100-30 favourite.

Burning bright

For a rigorously unpretentious take on Tiger Woods, finally, where to turn but the man to whom Roger Federer is as myriad-minded as Shakespeare? "Sport is our modern mythology, and every myth needs a hero," writes Simon Barnes in The Times. "And so we lose track of the truth: that these unfolding tales are played out by real people, who eat and sleep and defecate. The fault is not in sportsmen for failing to be perfect: it is in us, for our profound and foolish need for them to be so." Painful yet true. Just think of all those years we spent confusing sports stars with paradigms of saintliness ... and now, thwack, our moral universe is sliced to oblivion by a randy golfer. It's a dreadful thing to have blind faith ridiculed, but at least it offers insight into Mandy's bewilderment on having his trust in the goodness of Rupert Murdoch betrayed.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Life and Style
Suited and booted in the Lanvin show at the Paris menswear collections
fashionParis Fashion Week
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Kara Tointon and Jeremy Piven star in Mr Selfridge
tvActress Kara Tointon on what to expect from Series 3
Voices
Winston Churchill, then prime minister, outside No 10 in June 1943
voicesA C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
News
i100
News
An asteroid is set to pass so close to Earth it will be visible with binoculars
news
News
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Sauce Recruitment: Programme Sales Executive - Independent Distributor

£25000 - £28000 per annum + circa 28K + 20% bonus opportunity: Sauce Recruitme...

SThree: Talent Acquisition Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £45K: SThree: Are you an ambitious, money mot...

Guru Careers: Investment Writer / Stock Picker

Competitive (DOE): Guru Careers: A freelance Investment Writer / Stock Picker ...

Guru Careers: PPC Account Executive / Paid Search Executive

£20 - 24K + Benefits: Guru Careers: An enthusiastic PPC Account / Paid Search ...

Day In a Page

Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project