Diary: Try to see it Piers's way
Friday 29 July 2011
I'm not entirely sad to say that Piers Morgan's problems haven't gone away just yet. And nor, I imagine, have those of the once-married Heather Mills and Paul McCartney. In 2006, Morgan wrote of having heard a touching voicemail left for Mills by McCartney after an argument. So touching was said voicemail, claims the bothersome blogger Guido Fawkes, that Piers played it to the Mirror newsroom so that any Beatles-loving colleagues might share the moment when Macca warbled "We Can Work It Out" to his wife.
It's not so surprising that Morgan would have such privileged access to the inner workings of the Mills-McCartney relationship, since he always claims to have introduced them to one another, at the Daily Mirror "Pride of Britain Awards" in 1999. This claim was, it should be said, disputed by Ms Mills herself, but her complaint was rejected by that famously effective authority, the Press Complaints Commission.
* Ed Balls, subject of my notional joint biopic of the Chancellor and his shadow (working title: A Cock and Balls) may yet be ejected from Parliament on a technicality, thus precluding the possibility of a happy ending. Forthcoming alterations to the electoral map include a reduction in the number of MPs from 650 to 600, and Balls' constituency is under threat; he may have to compete for a newly created seat with his frontbench colleague, Hilary Benn. A word or two of warning for Benn, then: "Bruiser" Balls was last affected by such changes in 2010, when he claimed the new seat of Morley and Outwood by the skin of his teeth (or 1,101 votes). He did so at the expense of Colin Challen, Labour ex-member for Morley and Rothwell, whose limited political achievements included calling for the national speed limit to be lowered to 55mph. When Challen prostrated himself before Balls as his sacrificial lamb, he was subjected to taunts of "Lord Challen" by parliamentary colleagues. Mr Benn ought to note, however, that Challen's predicted knighthood was not forthcoming – and that he's been forced to make do instead with a spot on Scarborough Borough Council. Every political career, etc.
* As the New Statesman's eminently sane Peter Wilby points out in this week's edition, Mail columnist Melanie Phillips is quite right to complain when bloggers seek to associate her with Norwegian mass-murderer Anders Breivik, simply because her work was briefly cited in his tedious "manifesto" (alongside that of Winston Churchill, Jeremy Clarkson and Gandhi). Then again, says Wilby, Phillips "frequently denounces those who do not share her views on Israel as 'fellow-travellers of Islamofascism and genocidal Judaeophobia'". Sure enough, a glance at Mel's Twitter feed yields the following, somewhat contentious conflation: "Breivik, Ahmadinejad and Western left make common cause in flight from reason and wiping out opposition." Which roughly translates into layman's terms as: "I know you are, you said you are. But what am I?"
* Meanwhile, Mel's employer the Mail has opened up a new front in its battle with the BBC. Not only does the Corporation allow its radio presenters to leave offensive messages on the voicemails of helpless elderly gentlemen, spend inordinate amounts of licence fee-payers' cash on moving to Salford, and needlessly send half its staff to cover the Glastonbury Festival – it also wrecks marriages. So claims a study, breathlessly reported in the aforementioned newspaper, which suggests that when your spouse stays up to watch Newsnight instead of coming to bed, you might as well draw up the divorce papers. Next week: how the BBC could cause a slump in house prices, and give you cancer.
* Much comment on the Camerons' £5,800 fortnight in a Tuscan villa. When it comes to holidays, politicians can't win: stay in the UK and be accused of spinning, or pay for the posh holiday we all know you can afford? This column's suggestion: follow the example of George (né Gideon) Osborne, by taking the posh holiday, but saving money by staying with friends. When Gideon and family flew to Klosters for a skiing trip, you'll recall, he was accused of spending a shockingly non-austere £11,000. It turned out, however, that he'd offset any travel costs by staying with his chum, millionaire fund manager Caspar Rock, at Rock's own modest chalet. And, of course, when he visited Corfu in 2008, he was there as a guest of his fellow Buller man and ex-bestie, banking scion Nat Rothschild. The Chancellor: putting the budget back into budget travel.
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