CAPTAIN MOONLIGHT : Flatworms . . . flying faxes . . . and funny Yorksh iremen

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The Independent Online
I DON'T know about you, but I do find that things move at a bewildering pace these days. Take Tony Blair and Rupert Murdoch, for example. First off, you learn that Tony and Rupert are great chums whose minds meet over long lunches; then, blow me, the next thing you discover is that articles in the Times now have to be submitted to the Labour Party for approval before publication. I refer you to Hansard for 10 January, 47-48, and an exchange between those two employment bruisers, Michael Portillo and Harriet Harman, concerning an article written by Philip Bassett in the Times predicting that Mr Portillo was about to introduce a more massaging way of measuring unemployment. Mr Portillo, in his dramatic way, reveals that a fax of the article, sent to Ms Harman's office pre-publication, has come into his possession, and alleges that this is Mr Bassett's habit, quoting a note from him on the fax: "I'd be grateful if you could of course keep it under your hat." Ms Harman, indignant, retorts that the articlewas an exclusive sent so that she could make a comment for publication. Mr Portillo regrets he does not receive the same service. How did he get hold of it? Serendipity, apparently: Mr Bassett inadvertently sent it to Philip Oppenheim, the emplo

yment minister. All very odd. Captain's advice: keep reading the Independent.

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