Diary: Be afraid, Sir Cliff, Tony Blair is the kiss of death

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The Independent Online

The CIA has explored many unconventional methods of sabotage, as Jon Ronson explored in The Men Who Stare At Goats. But reflecting on recent events, the mystery is why the agency neglects the one guaranteed method of destroying its enemies. All it need do is hire Mr Tony Blair to befriend them. Look at global villains of the age, and there he is, caught on camera winking, embracing and a-schmoozing. Mubarak, at whose Sharm el-Sheikh palace the Blairs enjoyed all those hols; Gadaffi, Mr Tony's partner in that manly hug; Berlusconi, on whose yacht he reposed when Casa Mubarak was taken ... and now Rupert Murdoch, for whom he vainly tried to fix a satellite deal with the Italian Stallion; and Rebekah Brooks, at whom we saw him waving coquettishly on a state visit to Wapping in footage replayed last week. If Cherie is a creature from Greek myth (half woman, half supermarket trolley), her soulmate is a supernatural hybrid spanning the ages. Mr T is the lovechild of Zelig and the Angel of Death. God knows who's next, but right now you wouldn't want to be Sir Cliff Richard.

* Meanwhile, the questions flow like toxic slush. At what, for instance, was Rebekah hinting when she told NOTW sackees that they'll understand in a year why it had to go? What could be so much worse than Millie Dowler? I examine my mind, to adapt PG Wodehouse, and it boggles.

* And what is the true relationship between Rupe 'n' Rebex? A recent observer of the pair describes her role as less his chief executive, or even surrogate daughter, than care-home nurse. Apparently she never stops clucking, forever plumping his cushions and asking if he needs the commode (I exaggerate minimally). With the maltreatment of the vulnerable old such a hot issue, there's a vignette to do the heart some good.

* Speaking of the enfeebled elderly, sad news on David Cameron's quest for a judge to lead the inquiry. Lord Hutton's chief carer at the James Pickles Shelter Home for Retired Judicial Buffoons, Matron Ratched, tells me he isn't up to all the excitement any more. In which case, here's an alternative. Step forward Mr Justice Eady, the Judge Dredd of privacy. Not only is Eady J acknowledged as the finest legal mind since Lord Denning, or possibly Judge Jules. He is well acquainted with the culture, having served as a libel lawyer on The Sunday Times. Go Eady!

* Among the dogs yet to bark is Jeremy Clarkson. This is odd. As the leader of the libertarian provisional wing of the CNA (Chipping Norton Army), fearlessly outspoken Jeremy must have oodles to share with Sun and Sunday Times readers, yet not a dickie bird so far. But the sage we most want to hear from is Kelvin MacKenzie, who with rodential cunning leapt from the ship into a passing Daily Mail lifeboat moments before the iceberg was struck. Kelvin's last contribution to national debate was a beautifully timed Guardian piece headlined "Thank God For Murdoch". That was 11 days ago, but since then nada. Where have you gone, Kelv MacKenzieo? A lonely nation turns its eyes to you.

* I told him. Dave, I said, you'd be crazy. And I wasn't alone. So far from it, indeed, that there's an all-expenses-paid trip to the NOTW Chamber of Horrors, opening on 12 September, to anyone who didn't warn the PM about Andy Coulson.

* There is consolation if a bunch of folks must swap the Socratic symposium that was a NOTW editorial conference for a spell in jug. If the NOTW and The Sun have taught us anything, it's that a British prison is a holiday camp. Enjoy, enjoy.

* Hats off to erstwhile News of the World staffer Paul McMullan, that delectably seedy holographic recreation from the pages of Martin Amis' Yellow Dog, for relegating Alastair Campbell to Second Most Preposterous Newsnight Fixture. The last public defender of the dark arts, Paul now has his own bespoke camp bed in the studio. We'll miss him when it's over.