Matthew Norman on Monday: Charging in, Black Night is unhorsed by three little letters

 

In honour of his latest brave foray into the treacherous arena of droll badinage, a new analogy for Alastair Campbell is needed. Where his refusal to vanish from public life has been likened to a stubbornly recurrent fungal infection, Ali's exchange of tweets with Armando Iannucci over the latter's OBE casts him as Monty Python's Black Knight – the one who insists on continuing to fight Arthur after losing all four limbs. For those who missed the Twitter spat, Ali, attacked Iannucci for joining "the Establishment he claims to deride", while Armando counterstruck: "It's probably more Establishment to order your army to march into countries for no reason."

It was at this point that anyone free from "unchecked overconfidence and a staunch refusal ever to give up", as the Black Knight's Wikipedia entry puts it, would have withdrawn. Back came Ali to accuse the Iannucci wit of being "tired and blunt already. Three little letters can have more impact than you realise. Tut tut." At which, our sharpest satirical blade lopped off the poor chump's head with a succinct "WMD", wandering off to leave the blood-gushing stump tweeting into a void. If some will see this inability to accept being hopelessly outmatched on the field of wit as a psychological flaw, we choose to celebrate his heroic intransigence with Général Bosquet's judgment on the Light Brigade. C'est magnifique, Ali, you doughty old scrapper, mais ce n'est pas la guerre.

 

Covert operations, red-top style

 

As for Ali's new diaries, the stand-out revelation so far concerns Rupert Murdoch warning Mr Tony Blair, on George W Bush's behalf, not to delay the anti-Establishment invasion of Iraq. Whether or not Lord Leveson will recall Murdoch over his on-oath evidence about never pressuring PMs, what intrigues me is the light this casts on another entry. Ali also relates how George W promised Mr T that he'd get rid of Iain Duncan Smith if he caused him grief. How a US President could remove a British Opposition leader has perplexed some people. But it seems obvious that a Murdoch operating as Bush's enforcer could have happily offered The Sun's services to destroy IDS at the quarter-witted President's request.

 

The honourable thing to do

 

Incidentally, I can find no record of Ali rebuking Alex Ferguson for joining the Establishment in 1999 after Man United won the treble. You'd have thought the man who on Saturday tweeted "Malcom Tucker and I do not approve of the honours system" must have savaged the one-time Marxist shipyard worker for becoming Sir Alex, right. Perhaps the reticence had something to do with Ali arranging the knighthood himself. Still early doors, mind, and if the Black Knight of Tufnell Park can reattach his typing arm, he might care to tweet his revulsion in time for next week's column.

Hard days, knight? It doesn't show

 

The happiest of 70th birthdays to another anti-Establishment knight, Paul McCartney. Sir Paul is expected to celebrate reaching his biblical span at Madame Tussauds, where he now lives thanks to a clerical error.

After a recent modelling session, paperwork confusion caused the real life version to be mounted on a plinth, while the animatronic waxwork seen at the Jubilee concert (the Ugly Sister pinched mouth; the insanely chestnut hair; a shocker even for Tussaud's) was released into the wild.

 

More gems from the Tory back benches

 

For once the search for an intellectual giant on the Tory back benches takes us past Nadine Dorries and Peter Bone. Today's genius is Andrew Rosindell, the Union Jack-clad MP for Romford, who has expressed his "huge admiration" for General Pinochet.

The brilliance needs no highlighting by reference to the torture and mass murder that ensued when the CIA replaced Chile's elected leader, Salvador Allende, with Pinochet in 1973. Those who worry that Andrew's political career hasn't matched his cerebral powers overlook his chairmanship of the All Party Parliamentary Committee on Flags & Heraldry.

 

Republican goes on the offensive

 

It isn't only our far right that produces unsung cerebral titans, of course. Mike Callton, a Republican congressman from Michigan, was outraged last week by Democrat Lisa Brown.

"What she said was so offensive," thundered Mr Callton, who is hereby twinned with Andrew Rosindell, as the Special Relationship demands, "I don't even want to say it in front of women."

Mr Callton was quite right. It wasn't so much the word "vagina" that offended. It was Brown's gratuitous use of it during a debate about abortion.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Ashdown Group: HR Assistant (Events business) - Central Manchester - £20K

£18000 - £20000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: HR Assistant (Events busi...

Recruitment Genius: Project Engineer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This privately-owned company designs and manuf...

Recruitment Genius: Human Resources Officer

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity has arisen at th...

Ashdown Group: HR Manager - London - £40,000 + Bonus

£36000 - £40000 per annum + Bonus: Ashdown Group: HR Manager (Generalist) -Old...

Day In a Page

NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

Beige to the future

Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own