Matthew Norman: Time to stop these tantrums, Boris

The Dispatches hatchet job on Boris indelicately reminded us of the London Mayor's passive part in his schoolfriend Darius Guppy's aborted plan to give the NoW's Stuart Collier a sound thrashing (via hired help) for investigating his affairs. Myself, I feel Boris emerged well from the tape of their chat. His determination that Mr Collier avoid a trip to intensive care – he'd be "fucking furious", he told Guppy, if the hack suffered more than a cracked rib –does him only credit. Even so, there was a dismissively patrician tone to the conversation that is thankfully passé today.

David Cameron's hiring of former NoW editor Andy Coulson to head his spin operation may or may not be a time bomb primed to explode in his face. Mr Coulson's abrupt departure from the title, following his royal reporter's conviction for bugging princely mobiles, remains cloaked in mystery. Given his reticence on the matter, we'll probably never learn exactly what Mr Coulson knew in advance of a criminal offence, for which a payment of more than £100,000 to a freelance operative was authorised. I'm convinced he resigned purely on the honourable, Lord Carringtonesque grounds that one takes the rap for an underling's misdemeanour, regardless of personal involvement.

In a sense, however, this is a red herring. The important point is that where Etonian Tories used to collude towards doling out punishment to NoW figures, they now place the Conservative Party's immediate future largely in their hands. If there's been a more significant expression of Tory democratisation than this since the election of a Lincolnshire grocer's daughter as their leader, I'd love to know what it is, and would advise Mr Coulson to put this anti-elitist message at the heart of the electoral campaign.

Ali G in da House

But we mustn't dwell on the Guppy affair. Boris's error, after all, was merely one of omission, much like Clive Tyldesley's failure to interrupt Ron Atkinson during his racist rant about Marcel Desailly. A greater threat to Boris's ambition – and well-informed people believe he will be the de facto leader of the opposition should Mr Cameron form a government – is the shortness of temper illustrated by his storming out of last week's select committee grilling about transport failures in the snow. Here he could learn from Mr Cameron himself, who also has a short fuse, but heroically kept it from igniting during Wednesday's interview on Radio 5 Live with Victoria Derbyshire. Victoria continually pressed him for precise spending plans he couldn't conceivably yet have made, affecting the obtuse incomprehension of her dimmest phone-in caller. Exaggerated slowness of mind designed to goad a subject into blowing up is a cunning interviewing technique, as fans of Ali G will agree. Yet Mr Cameron resisted losing his rag. Now there's a tape Boris could study if he's serious about becoming the second successive Bullingdonian to lead his party.

Stay off the bench

I am disturbed to read that Fiona Bruce contemplates becoming a magistrate. Playing a part in the justice system is a noble aim, of course, but the modern history of media figures and the bench isn't pretty. Two words suffice. Jonathan; and Myerson.

Out of the blue

Of all the pieces about Jacqui Smith's expenses, the champion came from the gilded keyboard of The Times's David Aaronovitch, who struck his bespoke only-grown-up-in-town tone with imperious splendour. Admittedly the point he concentrated on swatting – that there's something innately wicked about watching blue movies – was the one almost nobody bothered to make. Even Anila Baig's main objection was that Jacqui wasn't at home to share the viewing, and it isn't very long since Anila wore the hijab in her picture byline in The Sun.

Be charitable, please

However, David's gleeful prediction that the police will investigate this disgraceful breach of Ms Smith's privacy was moving, while who can disagree that the real scandal (apart from our "stinking prurience") is the scandalous underpayment that forces our elected representatives to rely on their expenses? With their two salaries and all the allowances, in fact, it's hard to see how Jacqui and Richard's joint income can be worth more than £300,000 per annum.

Express fizz

As for the newspaper that revealed this tale of impoverished public servants, an imaginary bottle of champagne to anyone who can cite the last time the Sunday Express broke a cracking story. A fictitious magnum if it postdated the conference at Yalta.

Queen of folk

Still with post-war British history, I enjoyed Clive Aslet's rousing paean to the Queen in The Daily Telegraph. Following that adorable mutual back-rubbing with Michelle Obama. The Queen "doesn't just embody an institution but has eaten meals with every world leader since the Second World War", observed Clive. A jeroboam, also phantasmal, for the first person to provide a photo of Her Maj singing Georgian folk songs over the port with Joseph Stalin.

A sense of perspective

In these troublesome times, finally, what a relief to find a major newspaper figure skilled in resisting the lure of apocalyptic hyperbole. "Saving The New York Times now ranks," said that title's executive editor Bill Keller last week, "with saving Darfur as a high-minded cause." We wish Bill the swiftest of recoveries.

News
peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
Sport
Lewis Hamilton will start the Singapore Grand Prix from pole, with Nico Rosberg second and Daniel Ricciardo third
F1... for floodlit Singapore Grand Prix
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvHe is only remaining member of original cast
Arts and Entertainment
tvHighs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Sport
Fans hold up a scarf at West Ham vs Liverpool
footballAfter Arsenal's clear victory, focus turns to West Ham vs Liverpool
New Articles
i100... she's just started school
News
news
New Articles
i100
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
life
Arts and Entertainment
musicBiographer Hunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original manuscripts
Sport
football
New Articles
i100... despite rising prices
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

Head of Marketing - London

£60000 - £85000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Interim Head of Marketing / Marketin...

IT Application Support Engineer - Immediate Start

£28000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Software Application Support Analyst - Imm...

Digital Project Manager

£25 - 30k: Guru Careers: A Digital Project Manager is needed to join an exciti...

Paid Search Analyst / PPC Analyst

£24 - 28k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Paid Search Analyst / PPC...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam