Diary: The Lady in Liam's life

 

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The Independent Online

As with the Eye's snap of the be-vested Andrew Neil, who could ever tire of the photo marking Liam Fox's 50th birthday? So here once again is Liam Fox posing with Lady Thatch but a few poignant weeks ago. Look at his face, as Barry Davies said of Franny Lee, just look at his face. Look particularly at the triumphalist joy in his eyes at landing such a big if bemused fish. Look, and weep at the lethal alliance between ecstasy and hubris.

* With his career as a defence analyst enjoying a well-earned rest, is it time for Adam Werritty to return to healthcare – a previous area of interest – to resolve the scandal of NHS maltreatment of the elderly? I think it is, and the suggestion is this. Adam must broker a deal between the Health Secretary, Andrew Lansley, and Michael O'Leary, the gobshite's gobshite, whereby all geriatric care is outsourced to Ryanair.

Kept at 36,000 feet at all times other than during refuelling, the unwell elderly will be patronised or ignored by those paid to look after them. They will be poorly fed and watered, if at all, and at heightened risk of deep-vein thrombosis. And they will, of course, have limited access to toileting facilities whenever possible. Their lives, in other words, will be precisely as they are in hospital. However, by perpetually block-booking the cheapest tickets, and with no luggage to check in, I calculate that keeping them airborne will save the NHS £3.6bn per annum and free up thousands of hospital beds. I am organising a private conference in Bahrain in late November to introduce Adam to some friends – a Finnish billionaire, a Mossad-ish Israeli, a couple of US neo-cons, an erstwhile director of a chain of nursing homes – minded to fund his expenses as CEO of Airway2Heaven (senior medical adviser: Dr L Fox).

Adam will be pleased to learn that Ryanair doesn't fly to that desert kingdom, so his usual seat in Emirates' first class will be reserved.

One benefit of any political scandal is that it unearths characters we might not otherwise meet, such as Tory backbencher Peter Bone. This Foxy friend and ally was wheeled on to Friday's Newsnight to explain why it was all got up by the press and there was no cause to resign. Every parliament has its gorgeous rent-a-quotes, and Peter – lauded as "Britain's meanest boss" by the Daily Mirror in 1995, for paying a trainee 87p an hour – may yet challenge Nadine Dorries in the Anthony Beaumont-Dark Memorial Stakes.



* Pundits (you know who you are) who spent last week reassuring readers that Liam would survive, be not disheartened. Take courage from the example of Armchair Field Marshal the Lord (David) Aaronovitch, who was so gung-ho for invading Iraq. Follow the AFM's lead, and come back twice as sure of yourselves as ever you were.



* Still with the fruitless search for WMDs, the Comic Strip returned to Channel 4 on sparkling form on Friday with The Hunt for Tony Blair. There were many highlights, but along with Jennifer Saunders' hilarious Thatcher, I particularly loved the naming of the theatre into which Stephen Mangan's brilliantly observed Mr Tony dashed for refuge as The Chilcot. By way of cute symmetry, it was claimed yesterday that Sir John Chilcot had postponed finishing his report after a theatre dash of his own. Sir John was struck by the scene in Loyalty by Sarah Helm, wife of Blair's chief-of-staff Jonathan Powell, in which Dubya rang the PM on the eve the invasion; so struck that he wishes to review contradictory evidence given to his committee. Art and life, life and art ... the relationship becomes more complex by the month.

* How heartwarming to find Ed Miliband lavishly praising Private Eye on its 50th birthday for savaging chaps like himself. It's terrific when a political titan takes criticism on the chin rather than get all peevishly vengeful.

Meanwhile, Dan Hodges reveals that he left the New Statesman (to blog for the Telegraph) after a certain party leader's office reportedly complained so vigorously about his critiques that its editor spiked his copy and marked his card. Silly Little Ed, sillier NS.

m.norman@independent.co.uk

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