Matthew Norman's Media Diary

With friends like Alastair Campbell...

In a shock bid to give Boris Johnson's mayoral campaign a fuel-injected boost, Alastair Campbell appears in the Daily Mirror affecting to support Ken Livingstone. It's an absolute meisterwork of subliminal messaging. Almost every point he overtly makes against Boris covertly reinforces doubts about Ken. By ridiculing Boris for being funny on Have I Got News For You, for example, he subtly contrasts this with Ken's appearances on the abysmal political panel-show A Kick In The Ballots, broadcast in London in the mid-1990s. When he berates Boris for understating the cost of reviving Routemaster buses by almost £100m, the subtext is that Ken's Olympics budget missed the boat by some £15bn. Yet the most effective propaganda relies on Ali's self-sacrificial lampooning of his own judgment. When he dwells on Boris's background and schooling, and on that reference to "piccaninnies", how can we help but remember that Ali was a great friend and admirer of that old Etonian ubersnob Alan "Bongo Bongo Land" Clark? "He would be a disaster for London," concludes Ali of Boris. "And a disaster for London is a disaster for Britain." By trotting out the identical line he pushed eight years ago about the incumbent he now pretends to eulogise, Ali is of course saying "Look, my judgment is so laughable that your only safe bet is to reverse every word I've written." Sheer genius.

* The one journalist who has arguably done more than Alastair to damage Ken, by the way, is Andrew Gilligan, whose brilliant, sustained reporting of mayoral dodginess rightly won him Journalist of the Year at the recent Oscars of Our Industry. Isn't it lovely to see the pair moving in the same direction after all that passed between them?

* Speaking of Ali's alma mater, I've been disappointed with its work since the regular feature, Most Credible Anti-Cameron Daily Mirror Story of the Week, was inaugurated last month. Things did pick up on Thursday, however, with a story about a gaggle of Conservative councillors in Yorkshire and the West Midlands complaining about a shadow transport minister's failure to heed their fears that the party's deregulation policy would damage local bus networks. "The attack is humiliating for Mr Cameron ahead of next week's local elections..." It certainly is. It's the Rev Jeremiah Wright on wheels. Not bad, especially the "Official Tory Verdict" strapline at the top of the page, but they can still do better than that.

* Well done to Channel 4 chief executive Andy Duncan for his stoical response to news of his latest salary package. Andy's avoidance of public moaning at seeing his income barely doubled to £1.2 million after orchestrating such a triumphant year for the channel does him much credit. In 2007, to recap briefly, he oversaw that controversy-free Celeb BB featuring Jade Goody and Shilpa Shetty, the Richard & Judy phone fiddle (Ofcom fine: £1m), and the channel's highly principled refusal to yield to Princes William and Harry's request not to broadcast a high minded documentary entitled Diana; The Witnesses In The Tunnel. It is true that, unlike Mark Thompson at the BBC, Andy was gracious enough to accept his bonus, but this was entirely a matter of courtesy since it came to only £98,000. One sort of understands this penny pinching in troubled economic times when state-sponsored employers are loathe to antagonise the public by palpably over-rewarding key staff, but C4 chairman Luke Johnson goes too far to assuage the pathologically envious. We know that as Pizza Express owner Luke shrunk the pizzas and imposed a strict limit of three black olives per pie, but surely it's time to move on.

* He can't say he wasn't warned. Time and again this column has expressed its deep concern about Bloomsbury boss Nigel Newton and the idiosyncratic management style that has done such wonders for the turnover of London bars catering for the leaving-do market. Now he's losing big-name authors as well. The Daily Telegraph devoted Friday's page three to an appreciation of his work, centring on the defection of Joanna Trollope, who's bleedin' had it with the exodus of talented staff; and quoting another, unnamed, novelist's remark that Nigel's Harry Potter fixation has led to anyone not called JK Rowling being treated "with complete disregard". Nigel, an Anglophile American closely modelled on Dan Aykroyd's preppy character in Trading Places, with a dash of Niles Crane from Frasier for luck, must reassert a grip before others follow Ms Trollope.

* The best of British to Kelvin MacKenzie in his attempt to be elected a local councillor in Elmbridge on Thursday. This underrated single-issue politician is standing on the populist "How-dare-they-raise-the-parking-fee-at-my-local-railway-station-to-£5-a-day-when-I'm-down-to-my-last-£10-million-from-the-sale-of-TalkSport?" ticket. Leading historians, including Andrew KFC Roberts, are citing Kelvin's campaign against the iniquitous 43 per cent hike as "potentially the most significant transport-related fight for social justice since Rosa Parks". How all this will play in gin'n'Jag Surrey is anyone's guess, but we have our hopes.

* A lively first week as Radio 5 Live controller for Adrian van Klaveren, finally, whose tenure began with the announcement of Steve McClaren's hiring as a Euro 2008 pundit. Adrian is also thought to have commissioned a six-part financial series, Keeping The Lid On Inflation, although obviously this depends on how the political career of its presenter, Robert Mugabe, pans out.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
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

Recruitment Genius: Professional Sales Trainee - B2B

£15000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: First things first - for the av...

Recruitment Genius: Account Executive - Graduate / Entry Level

£22000 - £27500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This digital advertising infras...

Guru Careers: PR Account Director / SAM

£50 - 60k (DOE) + Benefits & Bonus: Guru Careers: A PR Account Director / SAM ...

Guru Careers: Research Analyst / Business Insight Analyst

£32 - £37K + extensive benefits: Guru Careers: Research Analyst / Business Ins...

Day In a Page

Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at long last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

Wiggins worried

Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific