Richard Ingrams: Blair could save us a lot of money by moving to the US


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Anyone who writes at all critically about the state of Israel, as I myself have been known to do from time to time, will be familiar with the Board of Deputies of British Jews.

A body of self-appointed worthies who make it their business to defend the interests of their country against its critics – this despite the fact that large numbers of British Jews feel no special loyalty to Israel while a great many are actually hostile, what with the illegal settlements and the continuing siege of Gaza.

Such facts have not deterred our one-time prime minister Mr Blair from addressing a dinner next month to celebrate the 250th anniversary of the Board of Deputies. Five hundred guests are expected to attend for £150 a seat but Blair, for once, has generously waived his speaker's fee.

One presumes that the deputies and their guest of honour are aware of the fact that once the date and venue for this dinner are announced it will be the cue for protesters to organise a massive demonstration, probably even bigger than that planned for Blair's book signing in Piccadilly last month which had to be called off.

This in turn will demand a massive police presence which will have to be paid for by the taxpayer who already pays for Blair to have armed police protection night and day. He could save us all a lot of money by going to live in America.

Some dons need to up their game

The Oxford philosopher Philippa Foot, who has died at the age of 90, was responsible for bringing to an end an interesting experiment which started when her namesake (but no relation) Paul Foot was editor of the Oxford student magazine Isis. The idea was to print reviews of the dons' lectures, treating them as if they were just another branch of showbusiness.

It was a popular feature until there were complaints that Mrs Foot had been so upset by an unfavourable review of her lecture on "explanation of behaviour" that she had suffered a nervous breakdown, where upon the proctors – the university's private police force – imposed a ban on further reviews.

It strikes me that though people are rightly incensed by the Government's plan to charge students to go to university, there is no demand that dons and lecturers should be charged much larger sums for the same privilege. At the best universities these dons have free board and lodging, including dinners of a high quality with fine wines. And they have plenty of time to write books or even, if they are lucky, to make large sums by going on television. In exchange they might be required to deliver occasional lectures. But, as the Mrs Foot incident proves, none of them is going to suffer if the lectures are pretty dull.

And everyone shall remain nameless

We have by now become used to seeing pictures in the paper of people whose faces have been deliberately blurred or pixellated to make them unidentifiable for legal reasons or whatever. A new trend is for stories in which everything is told to us except the names of the people involved.

For example, this week there was an intriguing, not to say ludicrous, story about a man described in the Daily Mail as a "journalist and household name" who two years ago was granted an injunction by the High Court to prevent publication to the fact that he had fathered a love child some time previously by a woman described as "a successful writer". But now, it is reported, this unnamed man has discovered following a DNA test that the child is not his after all. It is suspected that the father may well be "a former Labour minister" (also unnamed).

The journalist and household name must be relieved, perhaps aggrieved that he has wasted a lot of money going to court when there was no need, but will we now be allowed to know who he is? And will the Labour minister try to get an injunction? Whatever happens, you can be sure that someone somewhere is already turning this story into a comic farce for TV.

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