Diary: Photogenic MP short of issues
Wednesday 20 July 2011
One post-Murdochalyptic beneficiary will be the comely Conservative MP Nicola Blackwood, whose accomplished performance on the Home Affairs Select Committee yesterday had many an irregular BBC Parliament viewer hurrying to Google her name. Obligingly, Ms Blackwood's personal website yields an array of images – and she is indeed a photogenic gal, as you can see. Unfortunately, her political passions remain something of a mystery. "Nicola is currently updating the information on the local and national issues which matter most to her constituency," is the solitary message on the 'Issues' page of her site. "Watch this space." Nicola, I surely will.
* Proof, as if proof were needed, that the media enjoy no story more than a story about themselves. While the Murdochalyptic mushroom cloud casts its shadow across the press and the news channels, coating even BBC Parliament in a layer of phone-hack fallout dust, beyond the blast zone an entire continent is in danger of financial meltdown. (Europe, FYI.) Still, economic issues are neither the remit nor the expertise of this column, which instead promised yesterday to look for looters in the deserted streets of News International's reputation.
Among said looters is hip-hop fan and Downing Street spin chief Craig Oliver, who profited from the fall of Andy Coulson by taking his job, and the £140,000 salary that went with it (see page 19). If, as rumours suggest, Oliver is keeping a diary of his time in No 10 (on his iPad?), then this month's events will provide a meaty chapter or more – perhaps as much as half the inevitable book version, should Boris Johnson succeed in unseating the PM prematurely, of which more later. I expect HarperCollins, News Corp's imprint, would pay Oliver a very handsome advance to secure his journal's contents.
* As touched on above, it seems alleged babydaddy Boris Johnson is engaged in an elaborate attempt to topple Dave Cameron, his one-time fellow Buller man. Not long ago, Lib Dem London long shot Lembit Opik was known to afflict those he backed with the "Curse of Lembit" (to wit: Kennedy, Hughes, Oaten, Laws). Now it is the incumbent Mayor whose support spells doom.
In 2010, Johnson described the phone-hacking allegations as "a load of codswallop". Then, last week, he stood four-square behind Scotland Yard Assistant Commissioner John Yates, calling him "a robust and independent officer... doing a very important and effective job". Yates duly resigned, five days later. So I suspect Johnson's insistence yesterday that his old rival is doing "a first-rate job as PM" is nothing but a reverse psychological bluff, tempting fate to finish Dave off.
* Robert Peston's star rises ever further, thanks to a steady stream of scoops from inside NI. Now, I'm told, Peston has acquired semi-governmental powers, at least in the vicinity of Portcullis House, where this week he was spotted ordering a roadworks crew to cease their noisy drilling so that he might complete another of his gripping pieces to camera without interruption. They humbly obliged.
* As I reported yesterday, my attempts to commit the phone-hacking saga to celluloid have come to nought So I sympathise with the French screenwriters competing for the "Strauss-Kahn Story". According to Le Point, 17 film treatments of DSK's recent travails have been deposited with the Society of Dramatic Authors and Composers in Paris. However, the magazine quips, it's unclear whether the movie will have a "happy ending".
* Last week, I noted that PR guru and ex-NOTW deputy editor Neil Wallis had mysteriously slipped from second billing on the website of the Outside Organisation – just below chief exec Alan Edwards – to the foot of the list, despite the fact that (according to his bio), "What [Neil] doesn't know about journalism and media isn't worth knowing." Now, even more bizarrely, Wallis's name has vanished from the site altogether. The man who knew too much?
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