One of the stupidest comments yet made about the disturbing story of Jimmy Savile’s predatory sex life came yesterday from the Democratic Unionist MP, Ian Paisley, who questioned whether “the culture of the BBC” had changed because Andrew Marr was photographed last month carrying on with a fellow journalist on a London street at 3am.
If Paisley Jr. really cannot see a distinction between kissing a colleague during a drunken party and the cold-blooded exploitation of 13-year-old girls, his mental equipment must be limited. And if the “culture of the BBC” is to be defined by Jimmy Savile’s behaviour, should we draw general conclusions about the “culture” of the Democratic Unionist Party from the revelation in 2010 that one of their MPs, Iris Robinson, wife of the party leader, seduced a 19-year-old man when she was 59?
In politics, and in broadcasting, well known figures have been caught cheating on their spouses without seeing their careers finished. Paddy Ashdown was asked if he had any regrets in his life during an interviewed in Mature Times, a freesheet aimed at the not so young. He replied: “Ones I’m too experienced to tell you about.” That was a wise answer, because if he had said any more, he would have given journalists an excuse to reprise The Sun’s immortal headline on the day it became known that he had had an affair with one of his staff. They called him ‘Paddy Pantsdown’.
Conrad Black was once one of the most influential men in the western hemisphere country, whose vast transatlantic business empire included the Daily Telegraph, Sunday Telegraph, and The Spectator, and whose journalist wife Barbara Amiel had a wardrobe for her furs and another for her ball gowns, and owned more than 100 pairs of Manolo Blahnik shoes. Then he was convicted of fraud, and spent 37 months in the US prison system. It is unlikely that he will ever be allowed back into the USA, but here he is still Lord Black of Crossharbour, and is entitled resume his seat in the Lords and claim £300 a day attendance allowance, like that other former jailbird Lord Hanningfield. And anyone who is curious to know whether prison has taught Lord Black humility, should tune in later this month when he makes a guest appearance on the current series of Have I Got News For You.
The House of Commons will begin its session at 11.30 today, three hours earlier than normal for a Tuesday, under a rule change agreed in July. I hope MPs have remembered to set their alarms.
Gillard goes global
Julia Gillard, Australia’s Welsh born Prime Minister, has become a bit of an internet star after letting fly at the leader of the opposition, Tony Abbott, over sexism and misogyny. Her enemies Down Under claim that her British spin doctor, John McTernan, one of Tony Blair’s former advisers, thought up the idea of depicting Abbott as a misogynist, but on this occasion, as 1.7 million visitors to YouTube have seen for themselves, she was speaking from the heart. Burlington Stone, a firm based in Kirkby, Cumbria, has now won a £140,000 order to supply 17,100 tiles made of Westmorland green slate for the roof of Ms Gillard’s official residence in Canberra. Presumably the old roof blew off when Ms Gillard saw that photograph of Abbott in front of a poster saying Ditch the Witch.