Red Tony's past comes back to haunt him (again)

Click to follow
The Independent Online

* Last month, Tony Blair suffered the embarrassment of being "outed" as a student fan of Michael Foot, Karl Marx, and Isaac Deutscher's biography of Trotsky.

Today, a fresh blast from the past. New evidence suggests that our PM's youthful flirtation with the far left was in fact a full-blown love affair.

Blair was hitherto thought to have been politically docile during his time at St John's College, Oxford. But he now turns out to have put two tub-thumping motions before the Junior Common Room.

One was for the JCR to subscribe to the Sinn Fein newspaper An Phoblacht; the other was for it to get Chile Monitor, a watchdog journal criticising the Pinochet regime.

Details of the motions were made public this week by David Renton, a writer and socialist historian.

"Back in 1994, I was also a student at Blair's old college," he reveals. "Seeing that he was likely to be elected leader of the Labour Party, I went to the trouble of consulting the archives, which I understand are now closed.

"There were two political motions that Blair put to the JCR during his 'red period'. From memory, he was teased mercilessly for the (An Phoblacht) one."

As if that isn't enough - and what will Ulster's nationalist community make of the news? - Renton adds: "He'd also just changed his name from Anthony to Tony."

* Not for the first time, Mohamed Fayed is at the centre of an intriguing conspiracy theory.

The film Stormbreaker - based on a novel by Anthony Horowitz - features a baddie called Darrius Sayle.

Strangely, though, in the original book this Lebanese terrorist had a different first name: Herod. Guests at the film's premiere last night were told that the film-makers decided to change the character's moniker so as not to upset Fayed.

"It was thought that Herod Sayle sounded a bit too much like 'Harrods Sale'," I'm told.

"The last thing you need, in the precarious British film industry, is to provoke a lawyer's letter from Fuggie."

The film's director, Geoffrey Sax, confirmed that he'd been told to change the original name. As to whether this had anything to do with Fayed, he told me: "I couldn't possibly answer that."

* I hope it isn't impertinent to say that Lee Hurst would do anything for a free holiday.

The comedian recently asked Combined Services Entertainment to send him to entertain troops in Iraq.

"Lee called out of the blue," reports CSE. "He said 'I want to go to Iraq, I want to go in the next couple of weeks, and I don't want any money. The lads are having a hard time, and I want to do my bit to cheer them up'."

The internet site Chortle notes (with only mild disapproval) that "comedians are normally approached by CSE."

* George Bush's preferred greeting- "Yo, Blair! How you doin'?" - is the catchphrase du jour in Westminster, after Tory MPs greeted our PM's arrival in the Commons with Ali G-style whoops.

Behind the scenes, Labour ministers were at it too. "John Reid had a breakfast for selected journalists," I'm told. "Over the black puddings, he shouted 'Yo, Riddell!', when the latecomer Peter Riddell appeared."

History does not relate if these two political titans proceeded to perform a high five.

There will, I hazard, be precious few more dirty weekends for the publishing industry's "Mr and Mrs Smith".

On Saturday, James Lohan and Tamara Heber-Percy, authors of the Mr and Mrs Smith guidebooks, got married in Mallorca.

They are now "rebranding," and will appear under a (subtly altered) moniker in a forthcoming TV series, The Smiths' Hotels for Two.

* Seconds out! There is (yet another) round of fisticuffs between Gordon Ramsay and Gary Rhodes.

In a break from tradition, Rhodes - and not his Glaswegian rival - reignited their ongoing dispute, at the launch of a "Marmite menu" at his London restaurant.

"My advice to Gordon is very simple," he said. "The best thing he could do with Marmite would be to rub it into his face, to help that complexion of his - you never know; it might work."

Ramsay has yet to return fire, but the straight-talking Scot won't be happy. This isn't just a personal insult: it amounts to a racial slur against any pasty-faced countrymen.

pandora@independent.co.uk

Comments