The notion that Mr T directs his righteous wrath at the wrong target is wildly misdirected and it ill behoves anyone to call him demented

It took a man with both unimpeachable integrity and flawless perspective to identify The Independent as the bad guy

 

Share

Yet again, it is with distaste that we find portions of the press turning, like the feral beasts of his own depiction, on Mr Tony Blair. The latest torrent of scorn attends the keynote address of last week in which that most excellent man of peace called on the West to ally itself not only with his fellow-dove Vladimir Putin, but also with some of the more cuddly Gulf regimes, against such wicked emblems of Islamic extremism as the Muslim Brotherhood.

In The Independent on Sunday, Patrick Cockburn takes issue with this. Admittedly, his piece is so brilliantly argued that at first sight the analysis seems persuasive. Superficially, it does seem a little odd (if not “demented” as Cockburn puts it) for Blair to target the Muslim Brotherhood – which was democratically elected to power, however briefly, in Egypt – while implicitly praising Mr Putin and Saudi Arabia – where most expressions of political dissent have lately been criminalised – as worthy allies in the struggle to spread tolerance.

Yet, on reflection, the notion that Mr T directs his righteous wrath at the wrong target is wildly misdirected itself. If anything highlights his unerring accuracy, it is the valedictory feral beast speech he gave shortly before departing Downing Street in 2007. A less self-interested orator might have singled out certain tabloids, not all now extant, belonging to Rupert Murdoch, one of whose publishing firms had agreed to pay him a reported £7m for his memoir.

It took a man with both unimpeachable integrity and flawless perspective to identify The Independent as the bad guy (specifically, for its sceptical take on his approach to the Middle East). He was quite correct then, as he is now in lauding by implication the House of Saud’s impressively progressive values (theirs being the only nation, as Cockburn reminds us, in which women are not allowed to drive), and it ill-behoves anyone to call him demented.

The crucial thing is that the entire media, feral and house-trained, continues to treat his thoughts on all matters, but especially the region over which he has sprinkled the gold dust of peace these past seven years, with the reverence they timelessly demand.

Mildly insensitive? Hain’s not cowed by such thoughts

Very good to find one of Mr Tony’s trustiest lieutenants of old joining Andrew Marr on his sabbath sofa yesterday. Peter Hain, who as a cabinet minister underscored his genuinely heroic work fighting apartheid by cheerleading for the sanctions that killed untold hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children, popped along to review the papers.

With Liverpool poised to meet Chelsea at Anfield a few hours later, Peter reminded viewers of Bill Shankly’s fabled dictum about football being not a matter of life and death, but a great deal more important than that. Now there are those who might have wondered about the timing of trotting that one out within a fortnight of the 25th anniversary of the Hillsborough disaster. In refusing to be cowed by concerns about seeming mildly insensitive, Peter showed a hint of the bravery that led him to support the sanctions which denied the young cancer sufferers of Iraq the drugs that might have saved their lives.

A change of heart – or an ear that needs syringing

Also popping up on the show was Jeremy Hunt and, having chatted with him about financial pressures on the NHS, Marr raised a more urgent issue than that. As a refreshing change, the Sunday papers were laden with speculation about the London mayor’s possible return to Westminster at the general election and, if so, what this may presage. “And you’re going to get Boris back in the House of Commons to lead you?” mused Marr. “Well, that would be wonderful,” said Jeremy.

Either he has jettisoned the exaggerated loyalty that saw him act as a human shield for David Cameron over phone hacking, and thus saw him promoted rather than sacked as he richly deserved, or he didn’t hear the question. If the latter, an emergency ear-syringing is indicated. This procedure, unlike certain breast cancer drugs, is available on the NHS.

It’s certainly a libel, but I’m not sure who against

My beloved mother became the latest to tell me that Googling my name brings up an entry about a slightly better known Matthew Norman – “an Australian citizen convicted in Indonesia for drug trafficking as a member of the Bali Nine. Born 17 January 1986 (age 28)” ends the blurb, beside which is a byline photo of your diarist. While serving life in an Indonesian nick may well be a little ageing, no 28-year-old on earth could possibly look like this without spending 11 hours being attended to by the make-up artist who transformed John Hurt into the Elephant Man.

“Isn’t this a serious libel?” asks my mother. It almost certainly is. The difficult question, should any libel lawyer among you care to offer a pro bono opinion, is – libel against whom?

It’s total politics between Boris and Govey

Our glorious Mayor of London has launched a subtly encoded counterstrike (see the decrypted version, below) against Michael Gove.

After having a few at dinner at Rupert Murdoch’s Mayfair flat recently, you may recall, Govey told the old sweetheart that Boris is far too lightweight to lead anything other than perhaps a conga.

In response, the high-minded Boris tells Total Politics magazine that he wants “to hear a lot less about what other Conservatives have got to say about each other, and much more about what we’re going to do to win the election”.

Or, as my Lingua Politico-English dictionary translates: “Shut your fat gob, you newt-faced Scottish twat, or I’ll come round yours with my mate Darius Guppy, and we’ll shut it for you.”

Twitter: @MatthewJNorman

React Now

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

Opilio Recruitment: QA Automation Engineer

£30k - 38k per year + Benefits: Opilio Recruitment: An award-winning consume...

Opilio Recruitment: UX & Design Specialist

£40k - 45k per year + Benefits: Opilio Recruitment: A fantastic opportunity ...

Opilio Recruitment: Publishing Application Support Analyst

£30k - 35k per year + Benefits: Opilio Recruitment: We’re currently re...

Opilio Recruitment: Digital Marketing Manager

£35k - 45k per year + benefits: Opilio Recruitment: A fantastic opportunity ...

Day In a Page

Read Next
A Pokot woman holds a razor blade after performing a circumcision on four girls  

The campaigns to end FGM are a welcomed step, but they don't go far enough

Charlotte Rachael Proudman
Our political system is fragmented, with disillusioned voters looking to the margins for satisfaction  

Politics of hope needed to avert flight to margins

Liam Fox
Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: ‘We give them hope. They come to us when no one else can help’

Christmas Appeal

Meet the charity giving homeless veterans hope – and who they turn to when no one else can help
Should doctors and patients learn to plan humane, happier endings rather than trying to prolong life?

Is it always right to try to prolong life?

Most of us would prefer to die in our own beds, with our families beside us. But, as a GP, Margaret McCartney sees too many end their days in a medicalised battle
Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night - is that what it takes for women to get to the top?

What does it take for women to get to the top?

Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night and told women they had to do more if they wanted to get on
Christmas jumper craze: Inside the UK factory behind this year's multicultural must-have

Knitting pretty: British Christmas Jumpers

Simmy Richman visits Jack Masters, the company behind this year's multicultural must-have
French chefs have launched a campaign to end violence in kitchens - should British restaurants follow suit?

French chefs campaign against bullying

A group of top chefs signed a manifesto against violence in kitchens following the sacking of a chef at a Paris restaurant for scalding his kitchen assistant with a white-hot spoon
Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour War and Peace on New Year's Day as Controller warns of cuts

Just what you need on a New Year hangover...

Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour adaptation of War and Peace on first day of 2015
Cuba set to stage its first US musical in 50 years

Cuba to stage first US musical in 50 years

Claire Allfree finds out if the new production of Rent will hit the right note in Havana
Christmas 2014: 10 best educational toys

Learn and play: 10 best educational toys

Of course you want them to have fun, but even better if they can learn at the same time
Paul Scholes column: I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season

Paul Scholes column

I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season
Lewis Moody column: Stuart Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

Lewis Moody: Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

So what must the red-rose do differently? They have to take the points on offer 
Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

Sarkozy returns

The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game