Diary: So what did Tony see in the multi-billionaire Muammar Gaddafi?

 

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The Independent Online

Will the feral beasts never cease? Straight up, I'm sick of the sneering that attends Mr Tony Blair's efforts to spread religious understanding.

The latest malevolence comes via newspaper revelations about his two trips to Tripoli, in 2008 and 2009, to see the Colonel, whom Blair's staff greasily referred to as "The Leader" – a title once reserved for Gary Glitter – when snaffling free flights. The peace-bringer may have been desperate to be in Gaddafi's gang, but it defeats me how anyone could discern a motive other than debating comparative theology when Mr T has consistently denied business dealings in Libya. For all that, Blair Haters will be intrigued by the presence on one trip of US billionaire Tim Collins, a director of the US branch of the Blair Faith Foundation (who knew there were franchises? It's the KFC of godliness). Above all, they will obsess over Tony's refusal to mention these trips. Recalling that this is not the only eye-popping initiative he preferred not to be associated with – he dodged the Hello! snapper at god-daughter Grace Murdoch's baptism – haters may see the pattern of a guilty conscience. Let these heathen do their worst. We who read our Scriptures understand the taste for secrecy. "He who is trustworthy in spirit," as Proverbs (11:13) refers to a pretty straight kinda guy, "keeps a thing covered."







* Still with commendable love of secrecy, bully for the Met for its unconventional use of the Official Secrets Act to force The Guardian to reveal a phone-hacking source. It may seem draconian. But the key to effective policing, as new Commissioner Bernard Hogan-Howe will agree, is the sensible use of limited time. If officers spend all day ratting out News International, they won't have five minutes to search the national computer for celebrity snippets they can flog to the tabs.



* You wait a lifetime for gossip about a neocon politico with a taste for cocaine and sex with black people, and then two pop along in a week. I would suggest that George Osborne and Sarah Palin consider a tie-up, but we've had enough cheap George gags to sate the appetite. Not that Sarah Teather agrees, the Lib Dem Joan Rivers reducing a conference crowd to such mirthful paralysis that it could barely slow-handclap appreciation. George wants to go on Strictly, joshed Tiny Teather to the sound of the wind whistling in the churchyard, "to do a line dance". Oh my bursting ribs.



* When last year Boris Johnson's sister, Rachel, lobbied for Roger Lewis to get Oxford's chair in poetry, Boris refused to help due to umbrage over a Lewis review of a Boris biography. Shocking. Roger is our leading analyst of contemporary poetry, as confirmed by his altruistic heralding of an even stronger candidate for that chair than himself. "When I say that Pam Ayres ought to be the Oxford Professor of Poetry, even the Poet Laureate," began his critique of her memoir in Friday's Daily Mail, "I am not being facetious." Yes you are, Roger. Now zip it.

* Moggy, Moggy, Moggy, Oi, Oi, Oi... The old chant resounds to honour journalism's seer of seers. "We have now reached the point at which," writes William Rees-Mogg in The Times, "the banks have become a major risk factor." Now, Mystic Mogg? What the bejesus were Northern Rock and Lehmans? One hates to break a butterfly upon a wheel. But really, Moggy.

* I am sad to find Mayor Boris Johnson suffering at the hands of biographer Sonia Purnell, whose Just Boris is serialised in the Sunday Times. She does linger over extra-maritals. This is no place for prurience, so we'll restrict ourselves with one high cultural reference from his dalliance with Petronella Wyatt. "The pair liked to circle St John's Wood (where Petronella lived) in taxis, asking the driver to play a tape of her singing Puccini as they snogged away furiously on the back seat." Their favourite aria is unspecified. My tenner's on Petsy paying homage to Pavarotti with her "Nessun Dorma", which of course translates to "None shall sleep".

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