Matthew Norman on Monday: Melanie Philips shone a torch on darkness and revealed herself

Ms Phillips found mirth in the aftermath of Woolwich. Plus, let's hope the Commons treats IDS gently over this statistics snafu

Matthew Norman@IndyVoices
Sunday 26 May 2013 16:16
'The leftie who saw the light', as she is trumpeted by the 'Daily Mail', which provides Phillips with a weekly outlet
'The leftie who saw the light', as she is trumpeted by the 'Daily Mail', which provides Phillips with a weekly outlet

It is a natural instinct to seek silver linings in the most menacing skies, so rejoice that the reaction to last week’s monstrosity tickled the famously sensitive funny bone of Mad Mel Phillips. Although best known as the purveyor of choicest umbrellas, the Rihanna of the trade still moonlights as a serious thinker, and diverts her powerful mind from flogging merchandise on her online emporium to the murder of Lee Rigby.

Finding mirth where less acute comic sensibilities see only grief, Mad Mel “hooted at the commentator visiting from Planet Zog ... who wailed, poor dear, that ‘none of it made any sense’.” She obliquely refers to that gifted political writer Dan Hodges, who expressed the widespread bewilderment with typical eloquence. Let me state that Dan’s recent dismantling of Melanie on his Telegraph blog, over her confused reflections on Lady Thatcher’s funeral, is pure coincidence.

Rather than abuse a tragedy to settle a score, Mad Mel seeks only to shine her torch of truth on darkness, to which end she holds Islam itself responsible for the murder. To claim Islam had nothing to do with it, she contends, is “as absurd as saying the Inquisition had nothing to do with the Catholic Church ... ”

She could have made the honest comparison that “the Inquisition had nothing to do with Jesus’s teachings”, as indeed it did not, but let’s not nitpick. If MM was reduced to hooting by the aftermath of Drummer Rigby’s death, we salute her for that.

Cameron should ask Chukka for advice

David Cameron is off to Ibiza, the sabbath Sun reveals, and if he needs advice about the coolest night spots, he knows who to ask.

Labour business spokesman Chukka Umanna – who so resents being called “the British Obama” that he continues his enquiry into who at his old law firm hacked his Wikipedia entry to add a reference to him as “the British Obama” – has a £1m residence, Casa Blanca, there. Chukka will happily steer the PM away from clubs full of “C list wannabes and trash” of the kind that so offended him in London.

I could have been a Kalming influence

The one-time Tory Treasurer Lord Kalms threatens to move to Ukip unless the PM takes a firmer line on Europe, the Sunday Times reports, and here I hold up my hands. Long ago, his widowed mother Cissie was besties with my grandmother, Bessie Norman, on the Elderly Jewish Ladies Kalooki Circuit, and at a 1989 family do (simcha, in the Yiddish), I came within an ace of proposing to Cissie. Had the nerve not failed, I would, as Young Stan’s stepfather, have guided the foolish boy away from all the attention-seeking, and the misconception that donating buys a right to dictate policy.

IDS needs to be treated with kid gloves

Worrying times for Iain Duncan-Smith fans, who will be summoned before the relevant Commons committee to explain his misrepresenting of his own department’s statistics on benefit claimants driven to find work by tough love.

I beg them to treat him with kid gloves. Iain, a brittle soul who becomes peevish when challenged, cannot be blamed for the mistakes.

Asking him to address such complex social problems was the political equivalent of inviting Dibley church verger Alice Tinker to resolve the question of gay bishops on behalf of the General Synod.

Mitchell still whipping up a Plebgate storm

Interviewed in the Independent on Sunday, Andrew Mitchell re-lives his trauma on discovering that the police can have a hands-off relationship with the literal truth. However touching this Plebgate epiphany for one “brought up on Dixon of Dock Green”, it does seem odd that the fitting-up of the Birmingham Six escaped this West Midlands MP.

Then again, who’d be so daft as to compare the sufferings of those beaten up and wrongly imprisoned with those of a man denied the post of Chief Whip?

Mugabe thinks he’s coined a phrase

In a rare instance of ingratitude from one of the planet’s top-ranked horrors, Robert Mugabe tells a flattering Zimbabwean documentary that he refers to a former PM by the refreshingly original nickname of “Bliar”.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

View comments