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.

Voices
On the last day of campaigning before the polling booths open, the SNP leader has written to voters in a final attempt to convince them to vote for independence
voicesIs a huge gamble on oil keeping the First Minister up at night?
Life and Style
techApple has just launched its latest mobile operating software – so what should you do first?
Arts and Entertainment
Pointless host Alexander Armstrong will voice Danger Mouse on CBBC
tv

Much-loved cartoon character returns - without Sir David Jason

Arts and Entertainment
Liam Neeson said he wouldn't
tv

Liam Neeson's Downton dreams

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Actor and director Zach Braff
tv

Arts and Entertainment
Rosalind Buckland, the inspiration for Cider with Rosie died this week
booksBut what is it like to be the person who inspires a classic work of art?
Arts and Entertainment
tv

Arts and Entertainment
The former Doctor Who actor is to play a vicar is search of a wife
film

Matt Smith is set to join cast of the Jane Austen classic - with a twist

Arts and Entertainment
Lionel Messi in action for Barcelona
filmWhat makes the little man tick?
Arts and Entertainment
Meera Syal was a member of the team that created Goodness Gracious Me
tv

Actress to appear in second series of the hugely popular crime drama

Arts and Entertainment
tvReview: An undercooked end (spoiler alert)
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell dismissed the controversy surrounding
musicThe singer said 'the last thing I want to do is degrade'
Sport
Cesc Fabregas celebrates his first Chelsea goal
footballChelsea vs Schalke match report
Arts and Entertainment
Toby Jones (left) and Mackenzie Crook in BBC4’s new comedy The Detectorists
tvMackenzie Crook's 'Detectorists' makes hobby look 'dysfunctional'
Life and Style
fashion

Olympic diver has made his modelling debut for Adidas

News
i100
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

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
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week