Matthew Bell: The IoS Diary (02/05/10)

First past the post every time

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Just as the dust had settled after an unseemly squabble between Martin Amis and Anna Ford over their late friend Mark Boxer (she accused Amis of smoking at Boxer's deathbed and of being a narcissist), Marty has quietly popped another grenade over the fence. Speaking to David Jenkins in the new edition of Tatler, he says dear old Anna got a bit muddled with her choice of words in her letter to The Guardian. "I think she thinks narcissism is a fancy word for selfishness," he says. "I plead guilty to selfishness – but not to narcissism. Narcissism means an abnormal and/or sexual interest in one's own appearance. And I've never had more than the generational share of that." There was, of course, the time he shelled out a small fortune to get his teeth fixed, but that was a necessity. Anyway, Marty is above mud-slinging, so that's the end of it. Ok, Anna?

If there is a hung parliament and the Queen has to pick a PM, will she encourage him to back electoral reform? Her Maj is typically gnomic on the subject, as you would expect, and her mother was a known opponent, but I can confirm that Prince Charles is dead keen on PR, and will no doubt have told Mumsy of his views. Charles Kennedy once let slip that "when David Steel was Liberal leader, Prince Charles said to him, 'When are we going to get PR?'". Now an old friend of the prince tells me: "He has always been very keen on 'people getting together'. He doesn't like our adversarial system at all."

The Plaid Cymru economics expert who monstered Jeremy Paxman on Monday's Newsnight has, inevitably, become an internet sensation. A YouTube clip of Dr Eurfyl ap Gwilym's combative exchange has been watched more than 53,000 times and a Facebook Group, We Love Dr Eurfyl ap Gwilym!, has more than 1,200 members. But the doctor is magnanimous in victory: "Paxman got a skewering, but I don't want to denigrate him," he tells me when I call. "The problem is there has been a blurring between journalism and showbusiness, and people like his style. But I take the view that the one thing you mustn't do is allow yourself to be pushed around by someone like that, and I happened to be well-versed in my subject, and he couldn't conceive that he was wrong." Producers were originally reluctant to have ap Gwilym come on, on the grounds that they wanted an elected member of Plaid Cymru. "But then I pointed out that Lord Mandelson was unelected and they quietly acquiesced."

Fifa has been attempting to rattle some cages ahead of a conference this week at which allegations of fraud and corruption within the football body will be made. A letter has been sent by Fifa's lawyer, Lawrence Cartier, to OffshoreAlert, a publication exposing white-collar crime, ahead of a session to be given by Andrew Jennings. Cartier warns that legal action may be taken if Jennings's session contains any "defamatory statements", but Jennings, known for uncovering dodgy practice in sport, is going ahead nevertheless. The session's title is: "Corruption in Soccer – The Secret World of Fifa: Bribes, Vote-Rigging and Ticket Scandals". What could those allegations be?

High drama at the London College of Communications on Friday when Julian Rodriguez, Dean of the School of Media, was apparently ungallantly escorted out of the building. Nobody was willing to explain the circumstances when I called, but it follows the arrival of Sandra Kemp as head of the college last year, which is part of the University of the Arts, London. Kemp is implementing a radical reorganisation of the budget and seeking 37 redundancies among lecturers, which I gather has not made her terribly popular. And now this. Protests are being planned ...

Does William Hill endorse the British National Party? I only ask, because when I tap BNP into Google up comes a sponsored link to the bookmakers. When I call to find out, a spokesman says: "Of course we don't endorse the BNP. We wouldn't want to alienate supporters of other parties." A little while later he rings back to say the link has now been taken down. "It was a marketing error," he explains. Carry on.

m.bell@independent.co.uk

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