Richard Ingrams' Week: No wonder there is little pride and patriotism left

Related Topics

The former attorney general Lord Goldsmith is famous for one thing. In December 2002 he was asked by Tony Blair to adjudicate on whether the imminent invasion of Iraq would be legal under international law. Goldsmith's response was that it would be legal only in the event of a second UN resolution. But a few weeks later in March 2003 Goldsmith changed his mind and gave his approval to the imminent invasion. The reasons for the change have never been officially explained. But people are entitled to assume, despite his many protestations to the contrary, that he was leant on by Blair and meekly gave way.

That, you might have thought, would be the last we would hear of Goldsmith. Discredited and humiliated, he would retire to his barristers' chambers and spend the rest of his life dealing with boring but lucrative briefs involving human rights legislation. But no. We live in a world in which nothing succeeds like failure. Goldsmith's superior, Tony Blair, a discredited figure if ever there was, is showered with money and job offers and hopes even to be appointed the first-ever president of Europe.

Goldsmith's rehabilitation has been less colourful. He has been given the job of encouraging us all, but in particular the young, to celebrate our British citizenship and feel a new sense of "national pride". With this aim, he called this week for new ceremonies in schools where children would swear their allegiance to the Queen. He also proposed a new holiday to celebrate what he called "the bond of shared citizenship".

It does not begin to occur to him that the major reason for the decline in national pride is the shameful and disastrous alliance of this country with George Bush and all the misery and death that have ensued, not to mention all the accompanying lies and deceit which were used to justify the attack in which Goldsmith himself played a prominent part. When men like Goldsmith start to talk of national pride we should just remember Dr Johnson's view that "patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel".

Revenge from beyond the grave

The authorised biography of Bill Deedes, who died last year aged 94, has been splashed all over the pages of his old newspaper The Daily Telegraph, which is not to be wondered at. Even when he was alive, the paper was delighted to have Bill as a still-working journalist, as it helped to reassure older readers that some things hadn't changed despite all the innovations introduced by Conrad Black (now in prison) and his successors the reclusive Barclay brothers. Lengthy extracts from the biography will help to keep the legend alive.

In public Bill Deedes remained loyal to the new owners. Yet all the time, as Stephen Robinson's admirable biography makes clear, his last days on earth were being made miserable by what was happening to the paper he had faithfully served for so many years. Aware of his disquiet, the Barclay brothers invited Bill to lunch at the Ritz, but rather spoiled the point of the exercise by not offering the distinguished guest a single drop of alcoholic refreshment.

Bill has had his revenge from beyond the grave by leaving behind a caustic memo berating the Barclays for what he considered to be their pursuit of profit to the exclusion of all else and the consequent sacking of long-serving journalists abruptly shown the door and scarcely given time to clear their desks. "The depressing feature of this exercise," he wrote, "was its impersonal character. Existing staff felt like pawns moved by an invisible hand." In conversation with his biographer, Bill described the new owners as "a stinking mob". It goes without saying that the stinking mob in question has not included the relevant passages in its serialisation of Robinson's book.

* A new approach to crime is apparently being pioneered by the Serious Fraud Office. If there appears to have been a serious fraud, don't bother about it if it looks as if it's an open and shut case.

This has been the response to the scandal of GMTV exposed last year for cheating viewers of £35m by encouraging them to enter competitions in which the winners had already been decided.

But the SFO refused to investigate the case on the grounds it is not sufficiently complex and is unworthy of its "expertise". Expertise is not a word that many people would associate with the SFO, which has been involved in any number of lengthy and expensive investigations which have fizzled out or ended in a courtroom stalemate.

In the circumstances you might think that they would welcome a case involving £35m where, I feel, they would be almost certain to secure a conviction and hopefully a heap of favourable publicity.

But the news will be welcomed by Britain's fraudsters, the apparent message being that so long as your fraud consists of ripping people off in an open and straightforward manner, you have a good chance of avoiding prosecution.

It will also be welcomed by Michael Grade, the flamboyant head of ITV, as his company, too, has been shown to have operated a similar scam on its Ant & Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway programme, pictured above, again involving millions of pounds. The case looks open and shut and Grade can therefore be fairly certain that the police will not come knocking at his door.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Multi Skilled Engineer - Electrical / Mechanical / Maintenance

£20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A multi-skilled engineer with a...

Recruitment Genius: Electronic Service Engineer - Television & HI-FI

£17000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Engineers for field & bench ser...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Designer - Award Winning Agency

£30000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity for a t...

Recruitment Genius: Project Manager

£35000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This global provider of call ce...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Punks show off the Doctor Marten boots as they gather in Blackpool for the annual Rebellion Punk Rock Festival  

Recalling my act of punk rebellion at school shows how different attitudes are today

Rosie Millard
A hormone released when someone is under stress or pressure has been found in breast milk  

Shaming women for being unable to breastfeed is wrong, and it needs to stop

Siobhan Freegard
Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

Fifa corruption arrests

All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US
Stephen Mangan interview: From posh buffoon to pregnant dad, the actor has quite a range

How Stephen Mangan got his range

Posh buffoon, hapless writer, pregnant dad - Mangan is certainly a versatile actor
The ZX Spectrum has been crowd-funded back into play - with some 21st-century tweaks

The ZX Spectrum is back

The ZX Spectrum was the original - and for some players, still the best. David Crookes meets the fans who've kept the games' flames lit
Grace of Monaco film panned: even the screenwriter pours scorn on biopic starring Nicole Kidman

Even the screenwriter pours scorn on Grace of Monaco biopic

The critics had a field day after last year's premiere, but the savaging goes on
Menstrual Hygiene Day: The strange ideas people used to believe about periods

Menstrual Hygiene Day: The strange ideas people once had about periods

If one was missed, vomiting blood was seen as a viable alternative
The best work perks: From free travel cards to making dreams come true (really)

The quirks of work perks

From free travel cards to making dreams come true (really)
Is bridge the latest twee pastime to get hip?

Is bridge becoming hip?

The number of young players has trebled in the past year. Gillian Orr discovers if this old game has new tricks
Long author-lists on research papers are threatening the academic work system

The rise of 'hyperauthorship'

Now that academic papers are written by thousands (yes, thousands) of contributors, it's getting hard to tell workers from shirkers
The rise of Lego Clubs: How toys are helping children struggling with social interaction to build better relationships

The rise of Lego Clubs

How toys are helping children struggling with social interaction to build better relationships
5 best running glasses

On your marks: 5 best running glasses

Whether you’re pounding pavements, parks or hill passes, keep your eyes protected in all weathers
Joe Root: 'Ben Stokes gives everything – he’s rubbing off on us all'

'Ben Stokes gives everything – he’s rubbing off on us all'

Joe Root says the England dressing room is a happy place again – and Stokes is the catalyst
Raif Badawi: Wife pleads for fresh EU help as Saudi blogger's health worsens

Please save my husband

As the health of blogger Raif Badawi worsens in prison, his wife urges EU governments to put pressure on the Saudi Arabian royal family to allow her husband to join his family in Canada