Diary: Paul Hewson for PM
Thursday 02 September 2010
While Blair was long convinced that Brown would be a poor prime minister, he seems to have no such compunction about recommending Bono for a similar role. The U2 frontman, Blair writes (on page 555), "could have been a president or prime minister standing on his head. He had an absolutely natural gift for politicking, was great with people, very smart and an inspirational speaker... motivated by an abundant desire to keep on improving, never really content or relaxed. I knew he would work with George [W Bush] well, and with none of the prissy disdain of most of his ilk". Bono's nationality (not to say his tax arrangements) would preclude him from leading a British political party. One assumes he would also have to revert to his real name, Paul Hewson, to be taken seriously in high office. But familiarity with the world of finance would surely qualify him for leadership in Ireland: his investment fund, Elevation Partners, has been described as "arguably the worst run institutional fund of any size in the United States".
* A Prime Minister's musical taste can be a controversial business. Remember the uproar when David Cameron professed his love for the songwriting of such leftish heroes as Paul Weller and Billy Bragg? And what about this, from page 91 of Tony Blair's memoir: "Back in the late 1980s," the great man writes, "there was a group of musicians called Red Wedge, fronted by people like Paul Weller and Billy Bragg [them again], who came out and campaigned for us. It was great. But I remember saying after one of their gigs... 'We need to reach the people listening to Duran Duran and Madonna.'" The comment, he admits, "went down like a cup of sick." Still, it certainly explains a lot.
* Blair might have made himself eternally popular in the North-east, had one particular coup come off. At an IOC drinks party during the Olympic bid in Singapore in 2005, the then-PM met Real Madrid's all-time top goalscorer, Raul, and "tried, unsuccessfully, to persuade him of the merits of moving to Newcastle over Real" (page 550.) A somewhat bigger name than Ricky Van Wolfswinkel – and easier to pronounce.
* To David Miliband, the man Blair not-so-secretly supports for the Labour leadership. Yesterday, Miliband (D) received the backing of the Mirror and, crucially, of Sir Patrick Stewart OBE. The actor says he was first taken with the former Foreign Sec when he saw him give a speech not about policy, but about poetry: working-class wordsmith John Clare, to be precise. It was a short speech, which Stewart appreciated. "I'm never sure of the effect the celebrity thing has," Blair writes (page 333). "They add some glamour and excitement to what can often be a dreary business. What they can't do, of course, is substitute for the politics." Too true.
* On the subject of unpopular ex-bosses making comebacks, the Edinburgh architectural firm that gave Sir Fred "the Shred" Goodwin a top job with a six-figure salary last year has, reports The Scotsman , "been hit by a series of high-profile departures among its senior staff". RMJM, the world's fifth-largest architectural business, has lost four key employees since Goodwin's appointment by his old chum Sir Fraser Morrison, the company's former chairman. RMJM, however, insists the exodus has nothing to do with Goodwin, who was presumably hired for his Bono-like financial expertise: the firm has debts of more than £50m.
* From Crispin Mount, my erstwhile Cotswold correspondent, recycling cynic and amateur Tory-baiter: "We've all been receiving missives from Cotswold District Council about our great recycling rate (60 per cent) and how it's all down to us sifting everything into a Kafka-inspired fortnightly bin game," Crispin informs me. "The truth is rather less impressive... The high recycling rate is down to the [Conservative] CDC council leader, who owns Vale Press Ltd, which just happens to be responsible for producing more than 1,250,000 election leaflets for the Tory party in recent months – most of which [allegedly, Crispin, allegedly!] ended up in the recycling bin!"
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