Diary: How Anne Diamond drew a new boundary on privacy

 

Anne Diamond, scourge of the tabloids, was in fighting form on the Today programme yesterday as she spoke of "35 to 40 years of misbehaviour" by an industry that – unlike the broadcast media – knows no rules or self-restraint, and which thinks that anyone who enters public life has "sold their private life".

The issues on which Ms Diamond spoke so eloquently are never straightforward, because the boundary between what is public and what is private in a prominent person's life is a matter of judgement. An interesting case study is a spat that occurred live on television during the heat of a general election, in 1987.

Denis Healey, then Labour's shadow foreign secretary, was invited to the studio of TV-am, the predecessor of GMTV, to be interviewed – he assumed – about his party's defence and foreign policies. But he was up before an ambitious young interviewer who had spotted a story in The Sun that Healey's wife, Edna, had gone into a private clinic for a hip operation when Margaret Thatcher was taking flak from the Labour Party for using private health insurance.

Healey considered this to be an invasion of his wife's privacy since she was not a candidate for office. His TV-am interviewer did not agree. A lively confrontation gathered heat, making such good television that Healey was prevailed upon to stay on after a commercial break so that the same relentless interviewer could carry on prodding the same sensitive spot, until Healey stormed out of the studio, live on air. In his fury, he collided at the studio exit with TV-am's Political Editor, Adam Boulton.

Right-wing tabloids feasted on the story for days, leaving no room for any news about the Labour Party as they went down to election defeat. A new boundary had been drawn. Henceforth, no wife or husband of a politician could claim an ordinary citizen's right to privacy.

The young interviewer who accomplished all this was Anne Diamond.

Santa truth hurts before babes head to bed

There were calls for Wales's First Minister, Carwyn Jones, to be sacked yesterday after he had said on television, before the 9pm watershed, that Santa Claus does not exist. He's not the first politician to get into trouble by blurting out the truth instead of telling people the lies they want to hear.

Right man for the Miliband job

Ed Miliband is showing signs of being better at running an organisation than he is at communicating with the public. Yesterday, he announced the shrewd choice of 52-year-old Tim Livesey as his chief of staff.

Livesey is an experienced diplomat who has also worked as a Downing Street press officer, and for the head of the Catholic Church in Britain and the Archbishop of Canterbury. When you have dealt with clerics of both coats, journalists, diplomats and prime ministers, running a politician's private office should be a doddle. The Labour Party machine is to be overhauled in the new year.

Best choice for Lady Thatcher

An e-petition mischievously posted on the Downing Street website has attracted hundreds of signatures already. It says: "In keeping with the great lady's legacy, Margaret Thatcher's state funeral should be funded and managed by the private sector to offer the best value and choice for end users and other stakeholders.

"The former PM deserves nothing less and offering this unique opportunity is an ideal way to cut government expense and further prove the merits of liberalised economics Baroness Thatcher spearheaded."

Who could argue with that?

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
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 People

Recruitment Genius: Multiple Apprentices Required

£6240 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Apprentices are required to join a privat...

Sauce Recruitment: HR Manager

£40000 per annum: Sauce Recruitment: This is an exciting opportunity for a HR...

Ashdown Group: Interim HR Manager - 3 Month FTC - Henley-on-Thames

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A well-established organisation oper...

Recruitment Genius: HR Advisor

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Our Client has been the leader ...

Day In a Page

Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project
Diana Krall: The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai

Diana Krall interview

The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai
Pinstriped for action: A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter

Pinstriped for action

A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter
Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: 'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'

Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: How we met

'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef serves up his favourite Japanese dishes

Bill Granger's Japanese recipes

Stock up on mirin, soy and miso and you have the makings of everyday Japanese cuisine
Michael Calvin: How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us

Michael Calvin's Last Word

How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us