Matthew Norman on Monday: Business class flight to Diego Garcia for Mr Straw


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The Independent Online

Could George Galloway's widely ridiculed mistweet about Respect's by-election being in Blackburn prove a self-fulfilling prophecy? I only ask because even Jack Straw would struggle to brazen it out and remain the MP for Blackburn if he is nicked on suspicion of colluding in the torture of Abdelhakim Belhaj.

Jack's claims to ignorance of Mr Belhaj's kidnap in Bangkok and rendition to Tripoli in 2004 have suffered another setback. The Mail on Sunday quotes one diplomat saying he "was shown certain papers and accepted that he had known about it" ("bullied into owning up", in English, "by those desperate to cover their backs"); and another describing Jack's repeated denials of any knowledge as "an unexpected loss of memory" (to translate once again, "giant whoppers"). There would be a certain symmetrical charm if the Met rendered the adorable scamp to Tripoli, where interrogators may have ways of jogging a sluggish memory. Yet we bleeding hearts cannot condone torture even for him. What we may do is expect him to resign his seat were he to become the subject of a criminal investigation. If so, with Blackburn having the country's third-highest proportion of Muslim voters, George's mistweet may soon look uncannily prescient.


A new outlet for Lembit's cheek

How long before before a TV film does for a more recent Liberal deity what The Gathering Storm did for Churchill, and immortalises the wilderness years of Lembit Opik?

Since his weird rejection by the voters of Montgomeryshire, Lembit has rebuilt his reputation with stints in Ant'n'Dec's jungle and on Celebrity Come Dine with Me. Now he shines the light of his uniqueness on wrestling. On Friday, he emerged from the crowd at Welshpool Town Hall to berate grappler Kade Callous like a deranged old woman waving her handbag at Mick McManus. Taunted for cowardice, he then entered the ring, allowing Mr Callous to caress his throat in an armlock and consenting to a 2 June rematch. The late Kent Walton firmly expects him to model himself on Jackie Pallo, the proto-cheeky boy of grappling whose signature moves included sneaking up on opponents and touching their bums.


One uxorious male outdoes himself

With the debate about Daily Mail goddess of beauty Samantha Brick trundling on, the editor Paul Dacre responds to all the "Why does the Daily Mail hate women?" articles with the humility evident from his Leveson turns. Paul takes Headline of the Week for "Do girls only want a career because they can't attract a man?" The saucy self-satirist.


Talent show bard addresses his muse

The unlucky runner-up adorned The Sun on Sunday's serialisation of Tom Bower's biography of Simon Cowell, whose "you're the queenier hetero" badinage with David Walliams is so enlivening Britain's Got Talent.

Bower reveals Simon not only tried to seduce Cheryl Cole on his yacht (all very Tony Curtis and Marilyn Monroe in Some Like It Hot), but had a thing with Dannii Minogue. The sabbath Sun headline captures the depth of that love exquisitely. "I had a crush on her, Dannii's hair, sexy clothes and the tits. It was genuine love." Who could doubt it? And dimwits rave about Shakespeare sonnets.


Silent recipients of Mr Tony's largesse

One aspect of the plan to limit tax breaks for charitable donations is curiously overlooked. How would this affect that saintly philanthropist Mr Tony Blair?

Mr T's tax affairs are staggeringly opaque, and, unless he agrees to make them public, we can't know how much of his colossal income he funnels through the Tony Blair Africa Governance Initiative. Even so, imagine the damage done to all those mineral-rich African nations to which Mr T selflessly devotes his energies ... Have a heart, Chancellor. Think of all the starving bauxite and aluminium.


Ricky Gervais couldn't make it up

Tremendous to note Alan Davies, the Kelvin MacKenzie of mirth, sticking to his guns after ridiculing Liverpool FC's solemn observance of the Hillsborough anniversary.

None would be indelicate enough to speculate about the mental capacity of a man so well beloved for QI, Jonathan Creek and biting a tramp's ear outside the Groucho Club. But if Alan carries on like this, it's 4-6 on Ricky Gervais playing him in a sitcom by next year.