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?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Finance Assistant / Credit Controller

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are an award-winning digit...

Ashdown Group: Senior VMware Platform Engineer - VMware / SAN / Tier3 DC

£45000 - £55000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior VMware Platform En...

Recruitment Genius: Purchasing Assistant

£10000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A distributor of specialist ele...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Ledger Assistant

£17000 - £19000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A distributor of specialist ele...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Labour and the Liberal Democrats would both end winter fuel allowances for pensioners with enough income to pay the 40p tax rate  

Politicians court the grey vote because pensioners, unlike the young, vote

Andrew Grice
US President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping have a drink after agreeing a deal on carbon emissions  

Beijing must face down the perils of being big and powerful – or boom may turn to bust

Peter Popham
Homeless Veterans campaign: Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after £300,000 gift from Lloyds Bank

Homeless Veterans campaign

Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after huge gift from Lloyds Bank
Flight MH370 a year on: Lost without a trace – but the search goes on

Lost without a trace

But, a year on, the search continues for Flight MH370
Germany's spymasters left red-faced after thieves break into brand new secret service HQ and steal taps

Germany's spy HQ springs a leak

Thieves break into new €1.5bn complex... to steal taps
International Women's Day 2015: Celebrating the whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Simone de Beauvoir's seminal feminist polemic, 'The Second Sex', has been published in short-form for International Women's Day
Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Why would I want to employ someone I’d be happy to have as my boss, asks Simon Kelner
Confessions of a planespotter: With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent

Confessions of a planespotter

With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent. Sam Masters explains the appeal
Russia's gulag museum 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities

Russia's gulag museum

Ministry of Culture-run site 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities
The big fresh food con: Alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay

The big fresh food con

Joanna Blythman reveals the alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay
Virginia Ironside was my landlady: What is it like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7?

Virginia Ironside was my landlady

Tim Willis reveals what it's like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7
Paris Fashion Week 2015: The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp

Paris Fashion Week 2015

The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp
8 best workout DVDs

8 best workout DVDs

If your 'New Year new you' regime hasn’t lasted beyond February, why not try working out from home?
Paul Scholes column: I don't believe Jonny Evans was spitting at Papiss Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible

Paul Scholes column

I don't believe Evans was spitting at Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible
Miguel Layun interview: From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

Miguel Layun is a star in Mexico where he was criticised for leaving to join Watford. But he says he sees the bigger picture
Frank Warren column: Amir Khan ready to meet winner of Floyd Mayweather v Manny Pacquiao

Khan ready to meet winner of Mayweather v Pacquiao

The Bolton fighter is unlikely to take on Kell Brook with two superstar opponents on the horizon, says Frank Warren
War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable