The flow of information is a bit drippy, not to mention drabby, but details of the friendship that allegedly terminated Rupert Murdoch’s marriage continue to trickle into the public domain. In his second consecutive splash on this poignant tale, the Mail on Sunday’s Simon Walters, after reporting last week that Wendi Deng and Tony Blair spent nights together at her husband’s Californian ranch without Rupert’s knowledge, returns to Wendi’s friendship with Mr T. Simon has learned of a note Wendi “wrote to herself” in which she touched on having “warm feelings” for Mr T comparable to “a crush”. In further shock tidings, he relates that Rupert has spoken of “a shocking betrayal” by his one-time colleague in Britain’s regnant duumvirate; that Rupert made Mr T cancel an appearance at a media conference he was also attending; that there were further meetings between Mr T and Wendi at Rupert’s London home and New York’s Carlyle Hotel; and that these innocent meetings were “a factor” in his decision to divorce her. Mr T continues to dismiss the allegations. A “long-standing friend” claims that, being “a sympathetic guy” as well as a pretty straightforward one, Mr T was merely offering emotional support to a woman “trapped in a hideous marriage”. Another friend who heard the denial first hand says: “I believe Tony. He would never do such a thing and he is not a liar.” No one sane could believe that he is, yet the allegation nonetheless needs scotching. Perhaps he should ask Alastair Campbell to compile an intelligence dossier from internet gossip categorically rebutting it – this could be done in 45 minutes – and have Sir John Scarlett release it as hard fact in the conventional manner.
Nadine loses her very own Battle of Waterloo
At last, Labour MP David Lammy, the Celebrity Mastermind contender who posited that the Marie who won the Nobel prize for research into radiation was Antoinette, has a telly quizzing rival. Nadine Dorries graced Saturday’s celeb edition of ITV1’s The Chase, when she was loudly applauded for her refusal to claim any expenses by an audience presumably unaware of her previous record in this vexed area. Buoyed by that reception, Nadine performed brilliantly, if briefly, in her personal battle with Ann Hegarty, our second most beloved Chaser after the glorious Paul Sinha. Lack of space limits us to but one of Nadine’s selections from the multiple choice answers on offer. “Where was the Duke of Wellington when he reputedly said ‘I never saw so many bad hats in my life’?” asked host Bradley Walsh. When Nadine plumped for “Royal Ascot”, a roar of mirth from her fan club in the audience coaxed her belatedly to amend this to “the Battle of Waterloo”. Finally, on discovering that the correct answer was “the House of Commons”, she murmured a mystified “We don’t wear hats”, suggesting that she regards the Iron Duke as a contemporary political figure. Hats of all types off to Nadine, who is expected to register the fee for the show, on her I’m A Celebrity ... precedent, in the autumn of 2042.
The economy? Don’t ask me, I’m just the Chancellor
A lively edition of Andrew Marr’s BBC1 show found both the Chancellor and his shadow on cracking form. Before we come to Ed Balls, a dollop of praise for George Osborne. “Are you absolutely confident the recovery will last into 2015?” asked Marr, and George’s answer was worthy of Nadine the previous evening. “Well,” he said, “I’m not an economic forecaster.” Of course not. That’s why he never makes economic forecasts, and restricts his predictions from the Dispatch Box to such non-economic areas as borrowing requirement and anticipated GDP growth rate. Note that George later added, “I wanna make sure the police have the means to do their job... and we’re reminded in Glasgow of what an incredible job they do.” While accepting the lack of any intent to offend, you do wonder whether crashing a helicopter into a pub lends a patina of ambiguity to the phrase “an incredible job”.
Breaking Balls: one man’s quest to goad the PM
Ed Balls also sparkled on the sabbath sofa after Marr introduced him as a “relentless irritant” to the benches opposite (though considering he was recently called a “nightmare” by Ed Miliband’s economic adviser, that sounded ungenerous).
“Ed Balls,” said Marr in bidding him a brief farewell, “I can see why you irritate them.” “Pleasure, pleasure, that’s my job,” he replied, but it’s more than that. It’s his vocation, as he proved on returning at the end of the show to declare, unbidden and in pursuance of his campaign to goad David Cameron on the tiresome drug question, that he has never taken crystal meth. He might have added “if it looks that way, like Charlie Sheen, I’m high on being Ed Balls,” but he didn’t.
Louise and the basic facts remain poles apart
One who has confessed to taking Class As is Louise Mensch. The woman who has made the amazing journey from rock chick to (Murdoch) apparatchik once referred on Question Time to residual mental damage from her drug use, as she weekly confirms in her Sun on Sunday column.
After, four weeks ago, unilaterally bringing forward the next presidential election by a year, she was at it again yesterday. In railing against the nuclear deal with Iran, she observed that “the only good news is that 2015 is not too far away – and Hillary Clinton is made of stronger stuff than Obama”.
For God’s sake, Louise, this is not a proposition from Heidegger. Now concentrate. The. Next. Presidential. Election. Is. In. November. Two. Thousand. And. SIXTEEN.