Matthew Norman's Diary: Rooting for you, Gaunty
Monday 21 June 2010
Keep that yellow ribbon round the old oak tree, at least for a few more days until we learn whether the High Court will spring my old friend Jon Gaunt from captivity at the hands of the PC brigade. His challenge to Ofcom's censure of his wontedly restrained description of a councillor as a "Nazi", downgraded swiftly to "health Nazi", for defending a ban on smokers fostering children, will be decided this week.
In the meantime, Gaunty's internet radio vehicle SunTalk continues to host a daily World Cup show featuring Ron Atkinson. Big Ron was hired in April, you will recall, to replace Eugene Terre'Blanche, who breached a contractual term by getting himself murdered on his farm near Ventersdorp, South Africa
* For a while now the big boys and girls of political commentary, not least the retiring Times heavyweight Peter Riddell, have driven themselves mad with this question: upon which precise template were those robotic life forms the Milibandroids built? It is therefore my pleasure to resolve the issue today.
Reports last week that the boys have started the infantile leadership bickering no one could have predicted establish beyond dispute that David and Ed were modelled on the brothers Crane in Frasier. The parallels between the nerdy metrosexuals from Seattle and their Labour impersonators couldn't be more obvious.
Frasier, the elder by a few years, royally patronises little Niles, who resentfully challenges the condescension whenever possible. Fans of the sitcom will find "Whine Club", the episode in which the Cranes campaign against each other for the leadership of their wine club, especially instructive. Niles comes from behind to pip Frasier to the coveted post of Corkmaster. In a distressing omen of how farce history may repeat itself as farce, Frasier is too outraged by this challenge to his sense of entitlement to himself to remain in the club under his baby brother's aegis. He resigns and the two disown one another until their dad bullies them into making up.
With the Milibands' father Ralph long gone, the role of parental peacemaker will necessarily fall to their mum. Marion, love, brace yourself. The day approaches.
* As for the man the Miliboys hope to succeed – I much enjoyed Brian Brady's futile hunt for Gordon Brown as described in yesterday's IoS. The elusive former PM is apparently holed up in his Kircaldy house, writing furiously, although Brian could find little concrete evidence of this. All anyone seems to know is that in the month since Parliament reconvened, Gordon has been sighted there just the once.
One hates to kick a man when he's down – although it's generally safer than when he's up – but on what conceivable basis is Gordon entitled to pocket his MP's salary of more than a grand a week if he is doing not a stroke of work either at Westminster or by holding surgeries in Kircaldy?
Somehow, hours away from George Osborne breaking bad news to many on benefits, this seems an odd time for Gordon to be illustrating that, even after expenses, the job of MP remains a sinecure.
* Enough has been already been written about the abysmal quality of World Cup telly punditry, with Mick McCarthy besting even Alan Shearer with his flawless take on a 1957 Leeds grammar school PE teacher in a particularly grumpy mood on his first day back in the gym after a partial lobotomy. So it's a real pleasure to hail the clear highlight across all networks and media. Robbie Savage is simply brilliant on Radio 5 Live. Articulate, mischievous and very funny, Robbie will be red-carded by the Guild of Football Soothsayers soon for speaking his mind without a thought for future friction when he runs into the objects of his scorn at functions.
As for Adrian Chiles, the Atlas of ITV miraculously continues to keep that network's coverage aloft on those broad Brummie shoulders, despite the grievous loss of Robbie "Tout of Africa" (© The Sun) Earle. "Cheer up, we're still unbeaten!" as the final whistle blessedly called time on the Algeria extravaganza was a (Des) Lynamic stroke of laconic wit.
* News Corporation's attempt to buy a majority stake in Sky TV is very bracing. When Rupert Murdoch raises his offer – though why he should have to is beyond me – the deal will doubtless be waved through, establishing Jeremy Hunt as a typically fearless Culture Secretary when it comes to the strict application of competition law in a Murdocratic context. The sooner Rupert and James get to grips with Sky's legendary customer service ethos, and enable us to see a repairs engineer within two weeks without going through the wearying process of threatening to jump ship to Virgin, the happier we'll all be.
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