Diary: Is Kelvin MacKenzie getting less cynical with age?
Monday 04 July 2011
Unshakeable loyalty being the rarity it is, thank God for Kelvin MacKenzie. Kelvin marks his defection from The Sun to the Daily Mail with a paean to the boss he has forsaken, in an article headlined "Thank God for Murdoch" (and who knew he saw any distinction between the two deities?). Kelvin is overjoyed at Jeremy *unt's shock decision to permit Rupert full ownership of BSkyB, the Hulture Secretary wisely trusting his guarantees about the editorial independence of Sky News.
"Cynical eyebrows were raised" by this pledge, writes Kelvin. "Why? In the two decades he has owned the channel, not one journalist or editor has suggested he has interfered..." A brilliant point, and searingly original. In 2008, then Sun editor Rebekah Wade (as was) told a House of Lords committee that editorial interference "just doesn't happen". If Andrew Neil gave a markedly contradictory account, it is not for us pygmies to pick sides when titans clash.
Kelvin's crucial point is that "Sky is not Fox News, and I have my doubts that in left-wing, Socialist, clapped-out Britain [that] would work..." There was a time when Kelvin would have instructed anyone who dissed his homeland to leave for somewhere more seemly... in this case the US where, as Kelvin reminds us, unfettered capitalism has been such a success of late. Instead, this great stoic is sticking around, possibly awaiting the day when his loyalty is rewarded with the Glenn Beck Memorial Chalk Board and a lucrative berth on a reinvented Sky News.
* If Kelvin's memory deceives him over Rupert's editorial involvement, it isn't the first time. Readers with more elephantine memories will recall his confusion from one hour to the next over whether he wishes to apologise for his Hillsborough coverage... a problem tentatively ascribed to early- onset Alzheimer's induced by his monstrous snoring. Could it be that sleep apnoea victim Ed Miliband is similarly afflicted? If you haven't seen Ed's legendary public sector strikes interview, in which he robotically clanked out the identical answer like a talking Action Man with a jammed piece of string, YouTube it and judge for yourself.
The traditional first diagnostic question in such cases is, of course, "Now, dear, do you know who the Prime Minister is?" With Ed, it should be amended to "Can you tell me who the next PM will be?" If he answers "Ed Miliband", page the psychogeriatric registrar without delay.
* Thankfully there is a good chance that forthcoming surgery for the "apnoea" will reverse the damage to the Younger Milibandroid's positronic circuitry. But would it be too late? The Daily Mirror is moving against him, judging by its synthesised outrage at him being seen to smile on the day of strikes. Mirror political supremo, Kevin Maguire, famously present at Damian McBride's smearmeisters pow-wow in "a purely private capacity", remains close to Ed Balls. Henceforth, the paper will be studied intently for hints of an imminent putsch, as will Mr Balls when Little Ed goes under the knife. If he does an Alexander Hague when Reagan was shot, and tries to pull imaginary rank on Harriet Harman, all will be clearer.
* Belated congrats to the lawyer Mark Stephens on his CBE. Despite the gong, Mark will be an absentee tomorrow week when the High Court hears Sweden's request to extradite his former client Julian Assange. Why Mr Assange replaced him with Gareth Peirce is a mystery. Perhaps relevant emails will be Wikileaked one of these days.
* With less than 12 months to go, I am pleased to spare colleagues the bother of asking Boris Becker and the rest the ritual question next June. They are all convinced, most sincerely folks, that 2012 will be Andy Murray's year.
* I am distressed by the BBC's maltreatment of Mark Byford, who left the deputy D-G's post last month with a £950,000 pay-off – a derisory sum regardless of budgetary pressures. Before anyone taps up Bob Geldof about a charity gig, things are less bleak than they seem.
Mark is in advanced negotiations about the position of assistant head of digital strategy with the state broadcaster of Camberwick Green.
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