Diary: I've got just the man to help you, Mr Blair ... Prince Andrew
Monday 07 March 2011
It breaks the heart to observe, but the more happiness he spreads throughout the globe, the more suspicion surrounds the motives of Mr Tony Blair. The latest African centre of special Blairite interest to draw critical attention is Rwanda, where that singular philanthropist has been so busy of late.
Saturday's Daily Mail dwelt on private jet flights on the dime of best buddy President Paul Kagame, on whom he lavishes the sort of praise once reserved for Gaddafi. Whether or not Mr Kagame ordered the genocidal slaughter of Hutu civilians when leading the Tutsi army during the civil war, a disturbing number of journalists (all feral beasts no doubt) have been killed and jailed while he has been in power.
What so appeals to Mr Tony about Rwanda remains a mystery. The country's natural wealth is negligible, although one way or t'other it seems to come by a startling amount of valuable minerals mined across the Congolese border. Whatever explains his fascination – and to others, as always, we leave the cynicism and sneering – the Kagame administration is said to be "absolutely stuffed" with former Blair advisers working for his Africa Governance Initiative.
Time may reveal more about this curious friendship. Until then, we trust Mr Tony will continue his good works in Africa; and that if ever he feels his altruistic energies flagging, he won't be too proud to invite Prince Andrew on board to relieve some of the weight from his shoulders.
* What a joy, meanwhile, to see another great mate of Mr T's getting on. Sir John Scarlett (he's indestructible!) is unveiled as a director of Times Newspaper Ltd, and, fingers crossed, this is only the start of the former MI6 supremo's career within the empire. Soon Rupert will need some independent souls to oversee the "spun-off" Sky News, in compliance with his entirely credible guarantee to the Government. Who better than the man who established a fearsome ability to resist pressure in dealing with Alastair Campbell over how to present that WMD intelligence?
Another new director of Times Newspapers is Prudence, the forgotten Murdoch, and Rupert's first-born. With second daughter Elisabeth poised to join brothers James and Lachlan on the News Corporation board once the latter's £415m purchase of her production company Shine is complete, the old boy's hatred of dynastic family structures may be waning a little. Thankfully, however, his anti-monarchy instincts are as strong as ever. Where some quality titles would have overplayed the scoop, yesterday's Sunday Times restricted coverage of Kate Middleton's wedding dress to a chunk of the front page, and all of pages 2-3. Insouciantly thrown away, and all the more captivating for that.
* Making a rare public outing, David Miliband sidled on to the telly yesterday to chat with Andrew Marr. Asked if he intends to remain in politics, the senior Milbandroid said that he does – and with such quiet meaning that the subtitles, had there been any, would have borrowed from hide-and-seek days in the Hampstead nursery to read: "Coming to get you Ed, ready or nooooot!" And how David's alternative career in football with Sunderland FC is rubbing off on him. Speaking of any long-term ambitions, he will, he insisted, "take it one parliament at a time".
* Pringle caps off to the golf commentator Peter Alliss on reaching 80 last week. By the weirdest happenstance, somebody laying claim to the identical name as Peter (who features at No 1, piling coincidence upon coincidence, in my book of the leading 101 sporting irritants) wrote a while ago wishing me a happy Christmas, and "a good New Year, when I ... won't be a bit surprised to see articles in the Jewish Chronicle alongside, who knows, The Beano?" I haven't replied to this namesake from Surrey yet because I can't penetrate the oblique meaning, if any, of that JC reference. But I do think the Socrates of the 19th hole ought to know that someone is writing attemptedly mordant letters in his name, which might, in this present climate, be misinterpreted.
* A contender emerges for Road Sign of the Year. Nothing unusual about "Please Drive Carefully", but on the edges of the north Yorkshire village of Bedlam, it does look foolishly optimistic.
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