Diary: One more resignation to go, Gary
Friday 08 July 2011
This column's sympathy goes out to the many unfortunate journalists losing their jobs at the News of the World – but particularly Gary Lineker. For while many hacks are justifiably upset by events, Lineker will be deprived not only of his column, but also of the chance to submit another principled letter of resignation. The ex-footballer relinquished his role with the Mail on Sunday when its Lord Triesman sting put England's 2018 World Cup bid in jeopardy. "The actions of the Mail on Sunday... have undermined the bid to bring the World Cup to England," he said at the time. And he was said to have been considering his role at NotW before yesterday's announcement, fearing that his reputation might be tarnished by association with the paper. (I am, of course, still awaiting Lineker's principled resignation from his estimated £1.5m-a-year job at Match of the Day, after the BBC broadcast Panorama's FIFA investigation in November: a programme widely credited with, er, undermining the bid to bring the World Cup to England. Ho hum.)
* Alleged babydaddy Boris Johnson managed to summon an approximation of rage for the Today programme yesterday morning, telling John Humphrys of his "burning outrage [at] the horror of what has transpired". The phone-hacking scandal, said the Mayor, "has become deeply, deeply sick". Well golly gosh, what a change of tune. For back in September, Boris dismissed the entire affair as "codswallop", and blamed it on "a politically motivated put-up job by the Labour party". And might I take this opportunity to congratulate certain individuals from that party – Messrs Watson, Prescott and renowned self-portraitist Chris Bryant – for implementing said "put-up job" quite so effectively.
* And so to the results of this column's competition to write an alternative T-shirt slogan marking Boris's mayoral re-election campaign. Highly commended entries came from Denis Hanrahan, with "Boris: Always on the Job" – which, I'm given to understand, may be euphemistic – and from my unofficial Cotswold correspondent, Crispin Mount, who submitted the superbly on-message suggestion, "Anyone But Lembit". However, a panel of judges assembled in the corner of Independent Towers known as "The Armpit", where this column's staff of one resides, has picked a winner: Peter Fonth, whose slogan was both poetic and comprehensive: "Wiff-waffing, champer-quaffing, bun-throwing, piffle-talking: Boris!" Sadly, Mr Fonth is from Keighley in West Yorkshire, and so ineligible for the Mayor's own official T-shirt contest. Happily, this column holds no such geographical prejudice, and a bottle of champagne will be wending its way north forthwith.
* Boris, of course, is not the only person eating his word at this juncture. What a difference two months makes for the Telegraph's Peter Oborne. In May, his column alleged that "David Cameron has the makings of a truly great Prime Minister". "[Dave] has risen to the level of events," Oborne wrote, and "is setting about his mission with grace and charm... the ambition of the Cameron Government is beyond praise... If it achieves half of what it has set out to do, it will come to be seen as one of the great reforming governments of all time." The PM, he contended, had the capacity to "become a heroic figure who mends the economy, while building a social and political framework capable of enduring for a generation". How the mighty fall, for yesterday Dave's erstwhile cheerleader declared his reputation "permanently and irrevocably damaged". The nation's horse-rider in chief, he went on, has made "a long succession of chronic personal misjudgements... Mr Cameron allowed himself to be drawn into a social coterie in which no respectable person, let alone a British Prime Minister, should be seen dead". This, I should explain to readers unfamiliar with journalistic vocab, is known as a "reverse-ferret".
* Leading the condemnation of the police's involvement in this sorry mess was none other than the former Home Secretary, Alan Johnson, who described the Met as "dishonest, evasive or lethargic". Given his unfortunate and well-documented run-in with a "boy in blue", I must say I can hardly blame him if he bears a grudge.
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