Poor old Cliff Richard is the latest to fall victim to the curse of being Tony Blair’s pal

Who would want to join a club that has Gaddafi and Berlusconi as its members?


Returning once again to the Curse of Mr Tony Blair’s Friendship, I hear two familiar pieces of music coalescing into an eerie mash-up. The first is The Twilight Zone signature tune.

In July 2011, I reflected here on the horror that afflicts those whom Mr Tony Blair sees fit to make his buddies, the catalogue of victims including the Middle Eastern trio of Hosni Mubarak, Colonel Gaddafi, and Bashar al-Assad; Rupert Murdoch (at the time, Mr T’s beloved Rebekah Brooks had yet to resign as  News International chief executive  or be charged with the offences of which she was recently acquitted); and Silvio Berlusconi, who was convicted of corruption before the Italian justice system saw fit to clear him on appeal.

In the light of what follows, you will understand why I now ask the DJ to cue the do-do-doooo-do do-do-doooo-do of the Twilight Zone sig. “God knows who's next,” so that 2011 item on the Curse concluded, “but right now you wouldn't want to be Sir Cliff Richard.” Poor Cliff. After all the years of moaning about being banned by the BBC, when the Beeb finally deigned to return him back on the airwaves it was alongside South Yorkshire police as they raided his Berkshire flat.

And so to the second tune. With the accusation of having abused an under-age boy, which Cliff describes as completely false, Cliff becomes the third hoster of a Mr T Summer Holiday to succumb to the Curse. Mubarak had Blair to stay at his house in Sharm el-Sheikh, Berlusconi entertained him on his yacht, and Cliff put his Bajan villa at the Blairs’ disposal.

If Mr T’s money-making endeavours should ever falter, he could consider recording an updated version of the Cliff classic. “We’re all going on a summer holiday/ No more working for a week or two/ Fun and laughter on our summer holiday/ And a court case somewhere down the line for you.”


Jewish Chronicle editor needs his own Iron Dome

Journalistic courage under fire being a rare commodity, we mark it when we may. So hats off to Jewish Chronicle editor Stephen Pollard. Stephen has apologised to those among his readership for the “upset” caused them by the advertisement seeking donations for the victims of Gaza, and blamed the JC’s chairman for accepting it.

Reading between the lines, however, we credit Stephen with running it in the full knowledge that it would provoke screeching hysteria and threats of cancelled subscriptions from those who equate the urge to relieve civilians suffering with supporting Hamas. He might have added is that if the readers are upset, then they’ll just have to get un-upset again. But faced with all that incoming, he’d have needed an editorial Iron Dome to risk that.


Ross’s Radio 2 return opens old Sachsgate sores

I become increasingly concerned by the Family Sachs’s failure to treat the prank call visited upon Andrew’s answerphone with sufficient gravity. Even the news that Jonathan Ross is to return to Radio 2, as cover for Steve Wright cannot penetrate their blasé indifference. “It’s inapproproate and I think it’s disgusting,” the actor’s wife, Melody, tells the Daily Mail. “It’s like a slap in the face for us.”

With just six years having elapsed since they were exposed to Ross and Russell Brand’s double act, what concerns me is that they are still in denial. One admires the stoical refusal to dwell on the incident. But the dangers of taking the ostrich position after a truly grotesque trauma are well known, and without intensive treatment for the post-traumatic shock the process of recovery cannot properly begin.


Living in a parallel universe with IDS

Once again, Iain Duncan Smith is pleased to allow the rest of us a glimpse in to the parallel universe that is his retreat from life as the rent-free resident of his father-in-law’s Buckinghamshire mansion. The latest insight finds IDS indulging his favourite hobby of dismissing as fiction what all else accept as carefully compiled and accurate statistics - in this case, that two thirds of those struggling financially due to his bedroom tax are disabled.

Although the figure comes from an equality impact assessment conducted by his own Work and Pensions department, Iain is happy to ignore the figure since it is based, he points out, on “self-declarations”. Well, he has a point. You just can’t trust the wheelchair-bound to be honest about their physical condition, can you? A quarter of them won a bronze in the pole vault at the Athens Olympics, and another 23 per cent took to their chairs when they woke up feeling a bit tired one day, and were too lazy to give them up when their energy levels returned to normal.


Don’t ask me about independence, says Tennant. What a hero

Less than a week before Peter Capaldi’s Doctor Who debut, the last Scottish Timelord shares some pithy thoughts on the independence question. “As I chose to leave Scotland many years ago, I forfeited my right to tell Scottish residents how to run the country,” David Tennant drolly informs the Sunday Times. Well said, sir. One could point out that he left his home planet in a stolen Tardis even longer ago, and that never stopped him interfering in Gallifrey’s Time War against the Daleks, but that might verge on the pedantic.

“Anyway,” adds Tennant, “there is nothing more odious than actors foisting their opinions around.” Thank God someone said it. That’s the business of columnists such as Armchair Field Marshall The Lord (David) Aaronovitch of The Times,  and other major thinkers who have signed open letters on independence despite not having a corpuscle of Scottish blood.

We wouldn't need to recall Parliament if it worked on the same schedule as the rest of us do
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