Diary: Time for that Facebook cull, Mr Gove
Given that he (allegedly) recommended Andy Coulson as Tory comms director, and (allegedly) invited James Murdoch and Rebekah Brooks to his 40th birthday party, you may be surprised to learn that George (né Gideon) Osborne is said to be intensely relaxed about the imminent publication of ministers' meetings with media execs.
Less laid-back, say sources, is erstwhile trade unionist Michael Gove, who is married to a Times columnist, having formerly been a Times columnist himself. In fact, his "£60,001-£65,000" annual contract with News International remained in the register of members' interests some months into his cabinet career. He's also due to write a biography of Viscount Bolingbroke for Murdoch's HarperCollins.
Then there's Gove's friendship with Joel Klein, the Murdoch confidante in charge of News Corp's new "management and standards committee". As Political Scrapbook points out, in his previous role as chancellor of the New York school system, Klein inspired Gove's free schools. If Gove really wants to be squeaky clean, this column advises him to conduct a serious Facebook cull, give a year or so's salary to charity, and possibly begin divorce proceedings. I'm afraid it's what the public will demand.
* Last year, this column reprimanded the PM for tormenting the vulnerable, after he made a "dwarf" joke at the expense of John Bercow, the Cuban-heeled Speaker. Such behaviour was (presumably) entrenched when, as a chortling Etonian, Dave first "de-bagged" some poor, nerdy classmate and thrust him pant-less into a bramble thicket. As the Conservative class bully, Dave has also made jokes about Eric "Extra" Pickles's weight, ginger Danny Alexander's kilt, and the notable heft of Ken Clarke's backside.
This lowest-common-denominator humour is unbecoming, I'm sure you'll agree, but it seems Dave has yet to learn his lesson. At a meeting of the 1922 Committee last week, he mimicked the speech impediment of the seasoned Tory MP Sir Peter Tapsell, a disrespectful gesture that I reproduce here only reluctantly. "I have never known a man so good at getting out of scwapes," Tapsell (who has trouble with his Rs) supposedly said of Dave, his impersonator. "But then I have never known a chap get into so many scwapes."
The embattled Chipping Norton set, of which Dave is a founder member, may have another danger to contend with, quite apart from the attentions of Lord Justice Leveson. West Oxfordshire residents are being targeted by a Health Protection Agency campaign to cut their exposure to radioactive radon gas, which can cause lung cancer and occurs naturally in high volumes in the Cotswolds. (It's something to do with the limestone.) About 9,000 householders in the Chipping Norton area are due to receive letters to that effect, including (probably) Rebekah, Matthew, Dave and Jeremy.
* More from the music collection of Tom Watson MP, last week spotted dancing to Phil Collins and consorting (digitally, that is) with George Michael. Yesterday, the hero of #phonehackgate informed his Twitter followers that he was "heading up the tracks to my constituency. Burt Bacharach on the iPhone. I once gave Burt a tour of 10 Downing St. Love the guy." Get this man a slot on Desert Island Discs.
'I want more people to die...'
Former Sex Pistol, butter advertiser and ''antichrist" John Lydon can be, it emerges, a surprisingly sensitive soul when the mood takes him. "I cry on stage every night," he insisted when we spoke at last week's Mojo Awards. "The songs I sing are about the death of my mum, my dad... It seems that when you start paying attention to your inner soul and what really matters, it really, really hurts. The death of any human being disturbs me. I've never had a real enemy. I mean, to this day I miss even poor old Malcolm [McLaren]. Not much, but I miss him." Wow, I said, as I fumbled for a handkerchief, I never knew you had it in you, John. "But now," he replied, "I'm looking for more people to die. It's great inspiration for me."
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