Saturday 22 January 2011
Richard Ingrams: Resigning can be the prelude to glittering success
David Cameron has suffered a telling blow with the loss of his much cherished press adviser.
But in a world where nothing succeeds like failure, Andy Coulson has no reason to fear for his future. He should take heart from the example of his labour predecessor Alastair Campbell, who ended up resigning but who is now riding high, publishing books and even appearing regularly on the BBC, an institution which during his career at Downing Street he did more to damage than anyone else in our time.
Or let Coulson reflect on the career of his fellow former tabloid editor Piers Morgan, also forced to resign, in his case after publishing fake photographs of British army atrocities in the Daily Mirror. Morgan, just like Coulson, had seen two of his reporters put on trial and one of them sent to prison, not for phone hacking but for profiting from the buying and selling of shares which they themselves were tipping in the Mirror's City pages. And, like Coulson, Morgan insisted that he hadn't known what was going on even though he had bought the shares himself. And in any case, he insisted, the authorities had cleared him of any wrongdoing.
Today Piers Morgan is also riding high, publishing books and diaries (just like Campbell) and appearing on TV on both sides of the Atlantic to the acclaim of all the critics. Coulson maybe downhearted right now but all the signs suggest that he could have a shining future ahead of him.
Be prepared for the cyber war
While generals and politicians argue about the future role of our armed services, a few clever men have been quietly suggesting that the wars of the future will not be fought on the battleground but in cyberspace.
Not too much attention is currently given to these prophets of doom. But when one also reads that whole areas of our life, like the supply of energy, are nowadays entirely controlled by computers, it isn't hard, even for those of us ignorant of the science involved, to see how vulnerable we are to hostile interference.
Not much attention, either, has been given to the news that the cyber war has in fact already started. It has been reported, if not officially confirmed for obvious reasons, that American and Israeli scientists working side by side have managed to introduce a computer worm known as Stuxnet into the computers being used to create Iran's nuclear enrichment facility, thus causing it to malfunction. If the Iranians can produce a nuclear bomb, as is claimed, they can presumably knock out a few computers without too much difficulty. And the UK, which has very publicly allied itself with America, and also with Israel, could well become a prime target. And it won't wash to complain about the war, seeing that it was our side that started it in the first place.
Still refuse to believe all the hype
I have made it a rule in life to assume that when everyone is agreed that such and such a play, a film or a book is an undoubted masterpiece, it won't be any good and should therefore be ignored.
I have seldom come across such general unanimity as there is at present about the film The King's Speech. Not only have all my friends and colleagues already been to see it, they all of them have nothing but praise for the story, the stars and especially the Bafta nominee Mr Colin Firth.
How is it that a film about the late and distinctly uncharismatic King George VI, and his struggle to overcome his stammer, can be of any special significance compared with all the other stories you could make a film about? Is there perhaps an element of snobbery that explains the appeal of this film? Such considerations are irrelevant considering that my main objection to the film is just that everyone thinks it is brilliant.
And you haven't even seen it, my critics will say. I have to agree but I will only remind them how right I was last year about Toy Story 3. Because here again was a film about which everybody, the critics especially, raved. But because I had so enjoyed Toy Story 1 and 2 I broke my rule and saw it. And it was all a terrible disappointment. I should have known better.
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