Richard Ingrams' Week: A tale of two damaged and discredited leaders

Share
Related Topics

When George Bush was re-elected in 2004, I took some comfort from the fact that, as time went on, the more chickens would be coming home to roost.

To a great extent, my hopes have been confirmed. Bush has lost control of both the Senate and the House of Representatives, the situation in Iraq grows worse every day and he is now a more unpopular president even than Richard Nixon.

I am glad to say the same sort of thing has happened to our own Mr Blair. The difference is that Blair could have avoided it all to a great extent by resigning shortly after his third election victory in 2005.

Instead of which, corrupted by power and convinced that he was indispensable, he chose to soldier on. Perhaps he hoped that, as time went on, people would begin to forget all about Iraq. Instead, with more and more of our servicemen being killed and injured (not forgetting the thousands of Iraqi civilians), Iraq loomed ever larger. And the worse things got, the greater seemed the blunder of getting involved with Bush's crazy scheme in the first place.

When sorrows come, Shakespeare reminds us, they come not single spies but in battalions. And so it proved for Blair. Blunkett sank without trace, Prescott became a laughing stock and then came the greatest humiliation of all - police knocking at the door of Number 10 as they pursued their inquiries into the apparent sale of peerages, the first time in history that a serving prime minister has been questioned by the police.

The consequence of all this is that, whenever Blair finally does leave the stage, he will limp off to a chorus of boos and catcalls. This gratifying prospect is some small consolation for the terrible damage done by Blair to Britain's standing in the world.

Real ale, real journalism

My friend and neighbour, Richard Boston, who has died, was one of those journalists who could be given almost any assignment and make a funny and fascinating piece about it. Exceptionally well read in many different fields, he had the rare ability to review just about any book with an air of authority.

He achieved fame of a kind in the early 1970s when he became one of the champions of Real Ale. It was partly as a result of this that he came to live in my village of Aldworth in 1974, having discovered a pub in nearby Goring- on-Thames where they served a rare and real brew.

Despite all the talk of real ale, I have to say that, if ever I saw Richard in the village pub, he was usually drinking something stronger.

Hoping to rent in the neighbourhood, he was delighted to find a thatched cottage being advertised by Ann Scott James, then living with Osbert Lancaster, whom she later married. Richard had always been an admirer of Osbert's, and he later spent years labouring over a biography of the great man.

As Osbert's memory grew hazy, this became a more and more difficult task. There was a famous occasion when Osbert bumped into Richard outside the village shop and asked him how he was getting on "with the book you're writing about that chap".

* By 2012, according to one report yesterday, the BBC's licence fee will have risen to £148.05 - this being in line with the Treasury's new policy of limiting any increases at below the rate of inflation.

It will occur to few people to think that, by 2012, there might not be a licence fee at all. It certainly will not occur to the people running the BBC, who have been lobbying the Government for a much higher increase and who would like a licence fee in the region of £180.

Operating for the most part from expensive offices cut off from ordinary life, the people running the BBC seem to have little awareness of just how shabby its image has become. They seem quite unaware of the damage done recently by the revelation of the huge salaries paid out to second-rate disc jockeys on Radio 1 or equally second-rate chat show hosts like Jonathan Ross, left.

What is the effect when the BBC's chairman, Michael Grade, jumps ship after only three years in order to earn even more money as boss of ITV? What are people supposed to think when the corporation's so-called Director of Vision, Jana Bennett, calls for "skyscraper projects" with "a multi-platform aspect"?

Sooner or later, some of our aspiring politicians keen on tax cuts are going to see the electoral advantages of calling for the abolition of the licence fee. After all, it would save the taxpayer £130 a year and so would make a popular rallying cry. It could even happen before 2012.

theoldie@theoldie.co.uk

React Now

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

Recruitment Genius: Personal Tax Senior

£28000 - £37000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Recruitment Genius: Customer and Markets Development Executive

£22000 - £29000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company's mission is to ma...

Recruitment Genius: Guest Services Assistant

£13832 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This 5 star leisure destination on the w...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Account Manager

£20000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Account Manager is requ...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Seven per cent of young men have recently stopped using deodorant  

‘Sweaty-gate’ leaves a bad smell for PRs and journalists

Danny Rogers
Alison Parker and Adam Ward: best remembered before tragedy  

The only way is ethics: Graphic portraits of TV killings would upset many, not just our readers in the US

Will Gore
A nap a day could save your life - and here's why

A nap a day could save your life

A midday nap is 'associated with reduced blood pressure'
If men are so obsessed by sex, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?

If men are so obsessed by sex...

...why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?
The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3

Jon Thoday and Richard Allen-Turner

The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3
The bathing machine is back... but with a difference

Rolling in the deep

The bathing machine is back but with a difference
Part-privatised tests, new age limits, driverless cars: Tories plot motoring revolution

Conservatives plot a motoring revolution

Draft report reveals biggest reform to regulations since driving test introduced in 1935
The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory