In seeking to understand the great figures of the age, few areas offer more potential for insight as the primary paternal influence. With Mrs Thatcher it was that austere Grantham grocer Alderman Roberts, while Messrs Blair and Bush would cite the Creator to whom each was linked by earthly-celestial red phone line. With Alastair Campbell, meanwhile, all finally becomes clear.
Ali's spiritual father wasn't Robert Maxwell after all. It was Shaggy, the Jamaican- born reggae-rapper who served as a US Marine in the first Iraq war of 1991. Ali's latest repudiation of sexing up the intelligence that led us into the second, in defiance of Major General Michael Laurie's recent letter to Chilcot, is lifted directly from "It Wasn't Me", the No 1 single in which Shaggy counsels a man whose girlfriend found him in flagrante with another to cleave to the categorical denial, however preposterously.
"But she caught me on the counter (It wasn't me)
Saw me bangin' on the sofa (It wasn't me)
She even caught me on camera (It wasn't me)."
So far, so good. The problem was that, the second he realised the melody wouldn't work on the bagpipes, Ali stopped listening. He never heard the bit where Rik Rok repudiates Shaggy's advice with: "Gonna tell her that I'm sorry/ For the pain that I've caused/ I've been listening to your reasoning/ It makes no sense at all."
Say you're sorry, Ali, to the Kelly family, Andrew Gilligan, this country and Iraq. The catharsis can only do you good.
Incidentally, in the light of the evidence from this very model of a Major General – in my day, senior spooks kept schtum – might it be time for the BBC to cease hiring Ali as a guest and serialising his diaries? It is illegal for criminals to profit from their crimes. Surely the spirit of that law applies to suspected war criminals?
* Well done also to the CIA for the obvious fiction about Osama bin Laden's computer porn stash. As Alastair will confirm, sexual smearing is a traditional part of the propaganda process (see Hitler's gonadic shortfall and Saddam's tiny winkle), posthumous or otherwise. Besides, Ossie is in no position to say: "It wasn't mine".
* Hats of to have-a-go hero Nicky Campbell. On Friday, brave Nicky told 5 Live listeners how at 5.30am he saw a man trying to nick his bike from the garden, and scared him off by banging on the window. "Adrenalin completely took over. I would have gone into that garden and jumped on top of him stark naked." A captivating image (if only Jean Genet were around to make the film), and some explanation as to why that chap became so obsessed with 5 Live that his wife left him. It wasn't solely the warmth and wit of Victoria Derbyshire after all.
* Also following Shaggy's advice is Chris Huhne, who was taped urging silence on the person he allegedly cajoled into taking the three points for his speeding offence. For all the denials, the question seems less whether he can survive than which Lib Dem will replace him in Cabinet. With David Laws in disgrace, Nick Clegg may be tempted to hug a likely challenger to his bosom, and bring in Tim Farron or Simon Hughes. But I hope he plumps for Sarah Teather. Politics be damned, she's just so unbearably sweet.
* In better news for Chris, his love of driving fast offers hopes of a new career presenting Top Gear. Jeremy Clarkson is yet another in denial mode, in his case regarding claims that he has split from his missus. The bison-headed know-all has taken a flat in London's louche Bayswater, he insists, because he can't face commuting to the BBC studio from the marital home in Chipping Norton. This is about 65 miles, and even if he dawdled down the M40 at a stately 100mph, rather than the 240mph at which he once crossed Europe in a Bugatti, it would take 40 mins. Having lost the taste for speed, Jeremy should stand aside for Chris, whose former wife says that he "drives like a maniac".Reuse content