Breathe easy Palestine, Joey Barton’s on the case. Plus: good press for the Lib Dems - at last!

Our Diarist congratulates the footballer on his intervention in the Middle East and weights up Hugh Grant's political prospects
  • @andymcsmith

Joey Barton, the Queens Park Rangers footballer on loan to Marseille, has applied his specialist knowledge of conflict to advising the Israelis and Palestinians on how to resolve theirs. Writing in The Big Issue, he has judged that Israel does not have the right to defend itself simply “because a book said so”.

He went on: “So there are a group of Jews out there, with extreme beliefs, that think the Old Testament is all fact – which means Israel belongs to the Jews and the Palestinians must give all of the land back to them, as this book is, of course, the law. Now, come on – if someone turned up at my house and said they had found a book saying my house belonged to them, I would have my lawyers rip them a new a***hole.”

Mr Barton’s experience of conflict includes a prison sentence for an affray in Liverpool,  a suspended prison sentence for an assault on a former team-mate, plus a 12-match ban  and £75,000 fine from the FA for violent conduct during a match between QPR and Manchester City.

A euphemism for our age

These are grim days for newspapers. The Guardian, which used to be able to guarantee its writers jobs for life, is looking to shed another 68 jobs, and cannot rule out compulsory redundancies. However, to soften the blow, they have given the chief sacker, Sheila Fitzsimons, the title “executive editor of transformation”.

Good press for the Lib Dems at last

Just when you thought the Liberal Democrats were incapable of getting anything right, their press office has pulled off a double triumph. They have produced a new magazine for party members, Ad Lib, and to judge from Twitter, the customers are mostly satisfied. And last night their team came a triumphant second in the Press Gallery quiz, beaten only by a hybrid from Bloomberg and The Sunday Telegraph. Sky News came last, but had half an excuse in that Adam Boulton was not there. As for the Conservatives, they came last two years ago, failing even to identify some of their own ministers, and have not fielded a team since.

Time for Hugh to go into politics?

Hugh Grant describes himself as the “cover girl” for the current issue of Parliament’s trade mag, The House, and says that their photograph has him looking “grey and cross”. Politics has been defined as “showbusiness for ugly people” but, having immersed himself in the politics of the media, and being something of a looker, Grant denies this is so. He says he thinks all three party leaders are “charming”. The politicians will love this guy, even if his popularity among tabloid journalists is not all it could be.