Little has delighted the habitual media-watcher of late as much as Kelvin MacKenzie’s return to The Sun. The Bonnie Prince Charlie of red-top thuggery had suffered various humiliations, the latest in 2013 when a marathon stint as a Telegraph blogger was terminated after a day due to lingering worries about his legendary Hillsborough coverage.
So Kelvin superfans like myself rejoiced at his recent return as a columnist to the scene of his journalistic triumph in April 1989, when as editor he accused Liverpool supporters of drunkenly attacking rescue workers, abusing a dead girl, and urinating on corpses.
Anyone who turned to his page last Thursday expecting contrition, after South Yorkshire Police match commander David Duckenfield’s admission that the carnage was entirely his fault, was disappointed. “Astonished” by Duckenfield’s confession, the tabloids’ very own Captain Renard offered no apology for his blood libel against a city, let alone one as sincere as his initial mea culpa, which he later recanted on the grounds that Rupert Murdoch ordered him to make it.
But he did find it in his heart to beg pity for one Hillsborough victim, a certain Kelvin MacKenzie. Musing nostalgically on the days when a chap could take a copper’s word without fretting about any need to verify it, he finished his piece with: “I will be suing South Yorkshire Police when the smoke clears.” I believe I speak for us all in wishing him luck with that. He’ll be needing it, given that the author of the story tried to dissuade him from headlining it “The Truth”.
The late Harry Arnold told the BBC that when he saw the headline “I was aghast, because that wasn’t what I’d written.” He told Kelvin: “You can’t say that.” “Why not?” “Because we don’t know that it’s the truth.” It was more than a decade before Kelvin embarked on the meandering journey between apologising and un-apologising which led to the sparkling self-exoneration of Thursday.
How he came to be rehired by The Sun remains unclear, but the assumption is that he was imposed on current editor David Dinsmore by Murdoch himself. If the old darling read Kelvin’s steaming pile of faux-outraged victimhood on Thursday, it might have qualified as the second humblest day of his life.
Ashdown and Salmond’s spat reaches critical mass
In an echo of the literary feud between Gore Vidal and Norman Mailer, two political men of letters are having a ding-dong. Despite being stablemates at the Murdoch imprint William Collins, Paddy Ashdown analyses Alex Salmond’s new opus about the Scottish referendum, The Dream Shall Never Die, as “the longest exercise in literary masturbation since politics began”.
In a tough, no-nonsense counterstrike, a Salmond spokesperson dismisses Ashdown as “a desperate figure from a bygone age”. I wouldn’t be so sure about that last bit. If Nick Clegg loses his seat on 7 May, expect Paddy to thrust himself into the Lib Dem power vacuum and seize backstage control of the coalition talks. For now, this eternal kingmaker must keep any machinations private, and concentrate publicly on his career as the FR Leavis of the Lords.
Cheryl’s song and dance about the mansion tax
If Ed Miliband were one of Cheryl Fernandez-Versini's X Factor contestants, she’d tell him “I adore you, pet, you’re like a little brother to me”. But as leader of the party she has supported all her life, Ed faces a mighty struggle to hold the vote of Cheryl. She has enlisted a stellar battalion of mansion-tax refuseniks alongside Sol Campbell, Myleene Klass and Angelina Jolie (the global Boudica for the poor and dispossessed, having hinted that she and Brad might move here but for understandable fears that their joint wealth of $200m wouldn’t bear the strain).
Cheryl has lately become more politically engaged because – here she seems to be sampling Beatrice Webb – “I pay a fucking lot of tax”, and the mansion tax would “fuck me over… There are big downsides that come with having money”.
If you want to cushion Cheryl against the mansion tax menace, ignore the downside of enriching her by 99p and download her single, “Only Human”. I gather the auto-tuning software is awfully good.
The hidden genius of Ukip
In these troublesome times, thank God for one sensible Ukip voice. Roger Helmer, the (at times insanely) moustachioed MEP who appears to have slipped out of a Biggles story, wages lone resistance against the perception that Ukip folk tend to be daft.
Friday’s celestial non-event drew from Roger a startlingly perceptive observation: “Temperates [sic] drop during a short solar eclipse,” he tweeted. “It’s the Sun that drives the climate!” Genius. Finally you understand why you don’t feel quite as warm when the sun disappears behind a cloud. Roger’s contribution may be the most significant in this field since the Daily Mail’s Tom Utley debunked worries about rising sea levels by pointing out that, when the ice in his G&T melts, the liquid doesn’t spill over the sides of the glass.
Note to BBC’s DG: enough!
The latest developments in the Clarkson saga find Jeremy using his Sunday Times col… no, sorry, I can’t do this any more. To Tony Hall, BBC director-general, we say this: sack him; don’t sack him; make him drive a Robin Reliant to Burma as punishment; give him six Bugattis and a MiG-29 fighter jet on the licence-fee payers’ money as reward… Do whatever you have to do, but in the name of God, man, do it quickly and MAKE. THIS. CEASE.Reuse content