Matthew Norman: So much that the Bible can teach us about Tony Blair

After a hiatus of what feels like several weeks, the anguished wait for the latest tranche of Alastair Campbell's Downing Street memoirs is over. Power And The People, 1997-99 is out this week, and from the serialised snippets it looks a belter. My favourite bit concerns Tony Blair reading his Bible the December 1998 night before the bombing of Iraq, although the reference to it concerning Herod and the John the Baptist makes no sense in the context of that training session for the big match to come.

Did Ali misinterpret why the PM studied Herod lopping off John's head for criticising another man's choice of wife? After all, a previous entry has Ali disdainfully mentioning Cherie's "madder stuff" (wearing a pendant to ward off "evil spirits and harmful rays"; so different, in sanity terms, from a Catholic fingering the rosary beads for luck).

So was Mr Blair thinking even then of metaphorically decapitating Ali for dissing the missus? Or was the relevant passage the one from Mr T's beloved Apocrypha, which reads: "And verily, Herod did say, 'Speak to me not, pious Baptist, of the Commandments brought down from Sinai by Moses. For lo, where upon that holy tablet did the Lord of Lords vouchsafe, 'Thou shalt not do collateral damage, nor rob the Mesopotamians of their water and electricity til' kingdom come'? Eh?"



Less opaque is an account of how, during a G8 summit earlier that year, Mr T dwelt yearningly on his wish to become a "major player", adding ruefully but with no apparent ironic intent: "It's just a shame Britain is so small, physically." Those who regard Mr T as a victim of narcissistic personality disorder to whom the premiership was primarily a conduit to swanking over the global stage will feel chastened by that little remark.



A lively edition of the Mail on Sunday has two thrilling exclusives. David Miliband tells readers that "football is about ... scrubland and parks with coats, bags and jumpers ... for goalposts." No mention from Labour's Ron Manager that it's also about taking £50,000 a year from Sunderland for doing sod all. As for Andy Coulson, apparently he was prepared to quit his No 10 job over the phone bugging scandal (see below), making him the first person in history to offer to resign twice for something of which he knew nothing. Once more, and this recidivist martyr will be liable for beatification by the Holy See (No Evil) of Rome.



As for Susannah York, the most moving eulogy to her so far came from Andrew Marr on his BBC1 show yesterday morn. During the newspaper review, Andrew told Armchair Field Marshal the Lord Aaronovitch that she was "the first actress who made me feel a little strange". However percipient the self-commentary (I've long felt Andrew is a little strange), the reference was in shocking taste for a show many of us dip into while dressing for the Sabbath service. A winter's day by no means made glorious summer, in other words, by this fan of York.

Rupert Murdoch's largesse continues to astound. Speculation mounts that News International is picking up the massive legal bills of Glenn Mulcaire, the phone hacker whom so many slebs are suing on privacy grounds. If Rupert is bankrolling a freelance investigator who worked solely to a rogue News of the World reporter, and whose crimes have visited such grief on himself and Andy Coulson who knew not a dickie bird about it, this may be the most glorious act of altruism since Jeffrey Archer sent an acolyte to Victoria Station to pay off a hooker with whom he'd had no physical contact.



Among the latest to launch a legal action, meanwhile, is Paul Gascoigne. Without Gazza's Torinese tears in 1990, there would have been no revival in football's popularity, and no Premier League to turn BSkyB into the cash cow that fuelled Rupert's ascent to arguably the most powerful person on earth. So if Gazza snaffles a million to keep it out of court, it will be yet another example of Rupert's tear-jerking commitment to giving something back.

News
The Banksy image in Folkestone before it was vandalised
people
Life and Style
tech

Sales of the tablet are set to fall again, say analysts

Sport
football West Brom vs Man Utd match report: Blind grabs point, but away form a problem for Van Gaal
Arts and Entertainment
Gotham is coming to UK shores this autumn
tvGotham, episode 2, review
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Bloom Time: Mira Sorvino
tvMira Sorvino on leaving movie roles for 'The Intruders'
News
First woman: Valentina Tereshkova
peopleNASA guinea pig Kate Greene thinks it might fly
News
Brian Harvey turned up at Downing Street today demanding to speak to the Prime Minister
news

Met Police confirm there was a 'minor disturbance' and that no-one was arrested

Arts and Entertainment
George Lucas poses with a group of Star Wars-inspired Disney characters at Disney's Hollywood Studios in 2010
films

George Lucas criticises the major Hollywood film studios

Voices
Chris Grayling, Justice Secretary: 'There are pressures which we are facing but there is not a crisis'
voices

Does Chris Grayling realise what a vague concept he is dealing with?

Life and Style
A street vendor in Mexico City sells Dorilocos, which are topped with carrot, jimaca, cucumber, peanuts, pork rinds, spices and hot sauce
food + drink

Trend which requires crisps, a fork and a strong stomach is sweeping Mexico's streets

Life and Style
The charity Sands reports that 11 babies are stillborn everyday in the UK
lifeEleven babies are stillborn every day in the UK, yet no one speaks about this silent tragedy
News
Blackpool is expected to become one of the first places to introduce the Government’s controversial new Public Space Protection Orders (PSPOs)
news

Parties threaten resort's image as a family destination

Life and Style
Northern soul mecca the Wigan Casino
fashionGone are the punks, casuals, new romantics, ravers, skaters, crusties. Now all kids look the same
Life and Style
gaming

I Am Bread could actually be a challenging and nuanced title

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

Programmatic Business Development Manager

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Sauce Recruitment: As the Programmatic Business Dev...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + Uncapped Commission: SThree: Trainee Recruitment C...

European Retail Sales Manager, Consumer Products

competitive + bonus + benefits: Sauce Recruitment: My client is looking for an...

Sales Director, Media Sponsorship

£60000 - £65000 per annum: Sauce Recruitment: A globally successful media and ...

Day In a Page

Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

Salisbury ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities

The city is home to one of the four surviving copies of the Magna Carta, along with the world’s oldest mechanical clock
Let's talk about loss

We need to talk about loss

Secrecy and silence surround stillbirth
Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Women may be better suited to space travel than men are
Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

How to dress with authority

Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

Tim Minchin interview

For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album