`Sun' takes a shine to the top legal toff
Thursday 03 December 1998
The Sun gushed over the man who "aims to bring justice back to the people". There were soft-soap references to his affair with Donald Dewar's ex-wife Alison (now Lady Irvine).
Lord Irvine declared: "If a marriage breaks down with someone who is not at fault, you would be a very unthinking person if you didn't feel a strong sense of guilt. Time is a great healer and Alison and I have had a very happy marriage." He explained the absence of his first wife from his Who's Who entry: "My Who's Who entry was six years after my divorce ... " The interview is the latest example of a strategy to rehabilitate what The Sun itself called "one of the most reviled men in government ... seen as a blunt, arrogant toff".
He seems likely to remain best known for sneering at DIY wallpaper when defending the fact that his own cost pounds 60,000, or pounds 300 a roll. The overall cost of refurbishing his apartments was pounds 600,000, including pounds 3,000 for a lavatory. For Lord Irvine this was "a noble cause".
He has an uncomfortable habit of seeming to insist he is right even when everybody else differs. Certainly Downing Street has sometimes been less than enthusiastic about his views, including his call for the press to be muzzled on the relationship between Robin Cook, the Foreign Secretary, and Gaynor Regan, now the new Mrs Cook. Lord Irvine was accused by officials of "stepping out of line" and was himself muzzled by the minders.
But now we are seeing a new Lord Irvine. Last month he got rid of his traditional tights, breeches, buckled shoes and wig. "The wig weighs an absolute ton," he complained. "It is very uncomfortable."
With yesterday's White Paper he hopes to re-emerge as Lord Statesman and Mr Accessible rolled into one. Judging by yesterday's interview, he might succeed. "Face to face, he lacks malice and appears more like a stern, prickly professor than a cold, callous, ruthless man," The Sun argued. "The problem is that he says what he thinks and he says it straight. And in these days of po-faced political correctness the bald truth is often unacceptable."
Lord Irvine and the spin-doctors hope he will be remembered not just as Lord Wallpaper but also for his reforms.
It still seems a daunting challenge, but stranger things have happened.
Perhaps he even deserves it. As an acquaintance said yesterday: "He has little democratic sensibility. But he really is a liberal, as regards the law - and he is a force for good."
- 1 Exodus Gods and Kings: Ridley Scott never considered casting 'Mohammad so-and-so from such-and-such' in lead role
- 2 This letter from a reader explains why women can’t play football
- 3 'You should come to my house and eat cheeses with me': 4-year-old sends adorable love letter to girl at school
- 4 Scientists predict green energy revolution after incredible new graphene discoveries
- 5 Obama: The only people with the right to object to immigration are Native Americans
Black Friday 2014: Opening times for Asda, John Lewis, GAME, PC World and Argos
Miss Honduras Maria Jose Alvarado's stylist Luis Alfredo Garcia is found stabbed to death
Sean Abbott: Messages of support flood in for bowler following death of batsman Phil Hughes
Kim Jong-un proves 'in dire need of allies' within his own government as younger sister appointed to senior role
Dr Lam Hoe Yeoh: Voyeur doctor jailed for eight years after using network of hidden cameras to film patients, colleagues and friends on the toilet
Ukip says babies born to immigrants in the UK should be classed as migrants – which would include Nigel Farage’s own children
Rochester by-election: Ukip gains second MP as Tory defector Mark Reckless holds seat
'Beast of Bolsover' Dennis Skinner takes Ukip MP Mark Reckless to task moments after he is sworn in
The young are the new poor: Sharp increase in number of under-25s living in poverty, while over-65s are better off than ever
Tamir Rice: 12-year-old boy playing with fake gun dies after being shot by Ohio police
Rochester aftermath: Sacking of Emily Thornberry will make work of Labour MPs '10 times harder'
Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: SURREY MARKET TOWN - SENIOR PROPERTY SOLICITOR...
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: What do you want to do with your career? Do yo...
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This company is a leading expert in immunoassa...
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Development Scientist is required to join a ...