Diary: Why Plod will monitor the pews at tabloid star's funeral


It will be interesting to study the crowd when Sue Carroll, the chain-smoking, hard-living tabloid journalist who died from cancer on Christmas Day, is buried today in Richmond. A shop assistant's daughter from Newcastle Upon Tyne, she worked at the Sun, the News of the World, and latterly at the Daily Mirror, so her funeral will inevitably draw a galaxy of famous names from the tabloid press, past and present.

Which will make the seating arrangements a total nightmare, because no fewer than 10 of the expected mourners, including Rebekah Brooks, Andy Coulson, and Neil Wallis, have been arrested at different times by police investigating the phone-hacking saga. Under their strict bail conditions all 10 will have to sit at a distance from one another or risk the wrath of Plod.

The ugly Labourite with great charm

John Humphrys quoted the late Robin Cook yesterday who said that he could not run for the leadership of the Labour Party because he was "too ugly". Cook may have said that, but he was too sharp to have believed it. Though he had one of the best brains in modern politics, and was right about the Iraq War, Cook was too much of a loner to be a credible leadership candidate.

He never topped Labour's annual shadow Cabinet elections, and failed even to get elected to that body one year, because he could not be bothered to build a political base among his fellow MPs.

And if he ever had become leader, a ruthless searchlight would have been shone on his private life, in which notoriously there lurked a lot of extra-marital affairs.

A story that's ripe for exploiting

"I've Been Edam Fool" was the Sun front page headline yesterday, over the story about celebrity chef Antony Worrall Thompson being caught nicking cheese and other goods from Tesco. Alongside it lay an advertisement – "£5 off Tesco shopping including legally obtained cheese." An advertising sales rep with a cheesy sense of humour?

Tebbit not amused by 'The Iron Lady'

Invited guests turned up for a special showing of The Iron Lady, organised by the ConservativeHome website on Monday night. The Thatcher devotees in the room did not like it. The consensus was that the film should not have been made while the Lady is alive.

Norman Tebbit, who was Tory chairman during the 1987 general election, was the most vociferous. He said that he had been to have his car battery replaced that same day, and thought it was more fun than the film. No one made a film like this about Harold Wilson when his memory had gone, he added, a sign that standards have fallen.

He also claimed that Mrs T was never as hectoring in real life as Meryl Streep portrays her, but on that point Virginia Bottomley, who was a middle-ranking minister in the 1980s, disagreed.

Meanwhile, the Tory MP Michael Fabricant has written on Facebook: "I recognised a few colleagues from work who were extras in the movie. They didn't want me. The director said I don't look like an MP!"

It should do wonders for the morale of all the other male MPs that film directors do not think they look like Michael Fabricant.

Miliband brings on the clichés

One thing our political leaders seem to be able to agree on is the use of clichés. Cliché watchers will have spotted two prime examples in Ed Miliband's speech yesterday. Fairness, he said, "should be hard-wired into the economy". That sounded remarkably similar to a phrase from Nick Clegg's Scarman Lecture, delivered in Brixton in November, when he said: "We urgently need to lift a lid on the injustices hard-wired into our economy."

Then there was "bring it on", which seems to be the Miliband cliché of the moment. As well as being the title of a series of comedy films about high- school cheerleaders, that expression was imported into British political dialogue by David Cameron in November 2009, when he was trying to goad Gordon Brown into agreeing to take part in a live TV debate.

"Come on Gordon, get off the fence, agree to the debate, bring it on," said Cameron.

Yesterday, Ed Miliband declared: "I say to the Prime Minister, who are you trying to kid? No one is ever going to believe you're the man to take on crony capitalism... But now that you have accepted that this is the battleground of politics, I say: Bring it on."

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