For those whose fondest dream is of Mr Tony Blair’s elevation to the ranks of Catholic saints, happy news of his first authenticated miracle. His latest Labour leadership musings came this weekend, when he dismissed support for Jeremy Corbyn as an “Alice in Wonderland fantasy”, but it is to his first intervention that we return today.
“People who say their heart is with Corbyn: get a transplant,” Mr T advised Corbyn voters a few weeks ago. The latest high-profile figure denied a vote is Mark Serwotka, general secretary of the PCS (civil servants) trade union – who is, in fact, waiting for a transplant, five years after contracting the virus which destroyed his heart. His missus, Ruth, seems mystified by her old man’s exclusion, tweeting: “I’m very interested to hear the reasons.” You can understand her confusion.
Serwotka is an emblem of the social mobility now so sadly absent from these parts. Born in a Cardiff orphanage, he rose to become the age’s most articulate union leader. As such, even if dissatisfaction with Labour led him to flirt with voting Green and to criticise Gordon Brown for maltreating his members, he is surely the embodiment of Labour values. In which case, the one possible reason for Serwotka’s exclusion could be Mr Tony’s godlike power to transform a witless metaphorical reflection into stark reality. For verily did he say unto them that anyone who supports the false prophet Corbyn needs a heart transplant – and lo, a man who needeth a heart transplant is banned from supporting Corbyn.
A miracle indeed, and just the two to go before he is sanctified. Sadly for anyone hoping one of them will be Mr T staying silent in deference to the esteem in which his opinions are held, that seems a miracle too far.
When you’ve reached the top, the only way is down
A frantic weekend for the future patron saint of central Asian kleptocrats found Blair enjoying a cameo in Anthony Seldon’s new opus. A Mail on Sunday serialisation of Cameron at 10 revealed that, during the 2011 Libyan uprising, Blair rang Downing Street on behalf of his “dear friend” Colonel Gaddafi, trying in vain to broker a deal whereby the Colonel might flee Tripoli.
Other vignettes include the PM texting a grandstanding Boris Johnson that “the next PM will be Miliband if you don’t fucking shut up”, and the tearjerking resignation statement he prepared before May’s election. Yet the only thing that will vex Cameron is Seldon’s revelation that Barack Obama often refuses to take his calls; and that when he does, the President – apparently known in the Foreign Office as “Spock” – tends towards the icy. Ah well, I’m sure he’s much warmer towards that nice Mrs Merkel and other important allies. This process of learning our reduced place in the world order is slow and painful. Snippets like this, as a former public school headmaster like Seldon understands, are invaluable educational tools.
Jowell wisely sticks to what (and who) she knows
Tessa Jowell’s campaign to be a Labour mayor of London goes swimmingly. Asked if she thinks she would get on with the man expected to become her party’s next leader, the ever-fearless Tessa replies: “I don’t know Jeremy Corbyn. I know London very well.” Are the two mutually exclusive, do you think, or is it technically possible to know both a city and a person?
I wouldn’t ask except that Tessa and Jeremy have been MPs in the same party, representing that same city, for more than two decades. Still, Tessa is hardly a New Labour parody riven by paranoia about offending someone or other (Corbynistas or Blairite colleagues) by giving a straight answer. If she says all she recalls of Jeremy after 22 years as colleagues is saying “hello” to him occasionally, that’s good enough for me.
Who’s better qualified than the unsinkable Rebekah?
I am distressed by the snarky reaction to Rebekah Brooks’ imminent return to Rupert Murdoch’s News UK (News International as was, until her faultless stewardship necessitated an emergency rebranding). Chris Bryant, Labour’s media spokesman, captures the mood by describing her second coming as “a massive two fingers to the British public”, and seems to doubt Rupert’s sincerity in describing his 2010 media Select Committee appearance as the humblest day of his life. All nonsense, of course. No one is better placed to deal with any corporate prosecution than the chief executive who said she hadn’t a clue what was going on during her first stint, from which she was dismissed with a measly payoff of a reported £14m.
We wish her well with what corporate scholars cite as the most inspired attempt at rehiring since Cunard contacted the late captain of the RMS Titanic, Edward Smith, via a seance, about his availability to skipper its next unsinkable liner on its maiden voyage through the Bermuda Triangle.
Digital manipulation to spare your blushes
Mail Online’s dedication to sparing visitors from unpleasantness continues to gratify. In pictures attached to a story about girthular feminists giving Photoshop the finger, the digits of all four women are pixelated so that they resemble rectangular fingers. This may be the most winsome indulgence of refined sensibilities since The Sun last used the styling “t*ts” 0.27 inches from a page 3 nipple. Meanwhile, Mail Online offers uncensored video footage of last week’s live TV murders in Virginia. Must have run out of pixels.
Labour leadership: The Contenders
Labour leadership: The Contenders
1/2 Jeremy Corbyn
Jeremy Corbyn started off as the rank outsider in the race to replace Ed Miliband and admitted he was only standing to ensure the left of the party was given a voice in the contest. But the Islington North MP, who first entered Parliament in 1983, is now the firm favourite to be elected Labour leader on September 12 after a surge in left-wing supporters signing up for a vote.
2/2 Andy Burnham
Andy Burnham started out as the front-runner in the leadership election, seen as the candidate of the left until Jeremy Corbyn entered the race. The former Cabinet minister has found himself squeezed between the growing populism of Corbyn’s radical agenda and the moderate, centre-left Yvette Cooper, not knowing which way to turn. It has attracted damaging labels such as ‘flip-flop Andy’, most notably over his response to the Government’s Welfare Bill. He remains hopeful he can win enough second preference votes to take him over the 50 per cent threshold ahead of Corbyn.