Stephen Glover: I'll miss the sage of Essex, now he's gone

Media Studies: There is little doubt that some senior colleagues were not distraught to see him go

Three significant things happened at The Daily Telegraph last week. The Press Complaints Commission upheld a complaint about articles in the paper based on interviews of Vince Cable and colleagues, which were secretly recorded by undercover women reporters with their top buttons undone. The Telegraph's sinuous deputy editor, Ben Brogan, launched a "morning briefing" blog which popped up uninvited on my BlackBerry. And – by far the most sensational development – the right-wing columnist and scourge of David Cameron, Simon Heffer, walked (or was pushed) out of the door.

The PCC's adjudication can be quickly dealt with. Tony Gallagher, the paper's editor, grumbles that it has "alarming implications for the future of investigate journalism". I doubt it. This was a "fishing expedition" in which two pulchritudinous reporters posing as constituents lured silly old Vince into saying what he really thought about Rupert Murdoch's bid for the whole of BSkyB. Let's face it: the Telegraph would have cut a more impressive figure if it had "splashed" with this story rather than apparently suppressing it before someone leaked it to the BBC's Robert Peston.

As for Mr Brogan's blog, I wonder. Early in the week I looked at my BlackBerry and saw Ben's name. Had he at long last invited me to lunch? No. This was his first "morning briefing". Further bulletins arrived on subsequent days. They are, like all Ben's pieces, lucid and well-informed. But it is possible to have too much of a good thing. Even the best columnists should not write too much. If William Shakespeare sent me his unsolicited ruminations every morning I should eventually tire of them. Ben might be wise to ration himself.

And so to the ginger-haired sage of Essex. What a development! And yet it has been universally underplayed. More than anything, it was fear and loathing of Mr Heffer which once took Mr Cameron to the Channel Island fortress owned by the Barclay brothers, proprietors of the Telegraph. Tell him to ease up on me, was the Tory leader's desperate plea. To no avail. Sir David Barclay liked Mr Heffer's effusions. Murdoch MacLennan, the paper's wily chief executive, was his friend and shooting chum. The sage banged on.

Yet in the paper's engine room not everything was love and concord. Mr Heffer's political views were not the only problem. His irrepressible ambition for high editorial office grated with some, his overbearing manner with others. For a while, though, his long-term future at the paper lay in doubt as he took himself off to his old Cambridge college to sort out its various problems. Our friend Ben Brogan, a rising power on the Telegraph, was not his greatest admirer. Was he responsible for the extraordinary act of lèse majesté which I mentioned here several weeks ago? During a rare absence from his column, Mr Heffer's place was taken by his lifelong enemy, Bruce Anderson. It was like asking Trotsky to stand in for Stalin. The omens were not good. Anyone could see trouble was brewing.

At last, Mr Heffer's old college let him go. Gnarled dons wept into the Cam. Chambermaids craned their necks out of windows to witness his departure. The end came quicker than even I had thought. It was brilliantly spun by Tony Gallagher to sound like a national tragedy, as though the sage had walked off entirely of his own volition. He was reported to be writing a compendious history of Victorian Britain. Be that as it may, there is little doubt that some senior colleagues were not distraught to see him go.

And do you know what? I shall miss him – not just because a remarkable character has, at least temporarily, been hauled from the stage, but also because he offered readers a service barely provided by any other right-wing journalist in Britain. It is not every columnist who is feared and loathed by a prime minister. He was feared and loathed because he was good at what he did – criticising Mr Cameron. I am sure he spoke to the hearts of many Telegraph readers.

My only advice to him, in the unlikely event of my being consulted, would have been not to peak so early in his campaign – a few hours into the Tory leader's tenure. Take it more slowly, I would have said – discharge a couple of small battlefield nuclear weapons before graduating judiciously to something more lethal, and then only finally, if you get no clear results, let fly with your largest intercontinental missile. Once he had immediately committed his heaviest weaponry there was no pulling back, and there was always a danger of tedium setting in. That said, no one could deny that under full propulsion he was a wonder to behold.

Now that he has gone I feel, if I may be allowed to change my image, as our human ancestors must have done when the last woolly mammoth stomped off over the horizon to extinction. They would have gazed out almost nostalgically across the bleak Siberian plains, where not long before, this wondrous beast had crashed around, flattening hapless victims under his fearsome feet.



s.glover@independent.co.uk



When I suggested that the royal wedding had stirred atavistic longings in the tabloid press, I did not imagine they would centre on Pippa Middleton's bottom. This doubtless attractive feature is said to have 200,000 followers on Facebook – or is it Twitter? Either way, admirers have been worked up by the sight of Ms Middleton's rear in her tight-fitting bridesmaid's dress. Spotting a growing market, the News of the World and the Mail on Sunday dusted off some five-year- old photographs of her on holiday with Kate and their mother and Prince William. In the News of the World version Pippa was topless. The Middleton family has responded by complaining to the PCC. I fear this may mark only the beginning of hostilities between the Middletons and the tabloids. I shan't be surprised if it all ends up with Pippa's bottom being the subject of a super-injunction.

s.glover@independent.co.uk

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
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

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey / South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Ashdown Group: Junior Business Systems Analyst - High Wycombe - £30,000

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Junior Business Systems Analyst role...

Guru Careers: Talent Manager

£30-35k (P/T - Pro Rata) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienc...

Sauce Recruitment: New Media Marketing Manager - EMEA - Digital Distribution

£35000 - £45000 per annum + up to £45,000: Sauce Recruitment: The Internation...

Day In a Page

Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

Poldark star Heida Reed

'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn