I won’t bore you with more tales of my bedroom ceiling, a landscape with which I have become overly familiar over the past week. No piece of decorating has ever been so minutely examined and, in my mind’s eye, I have been transformed from an expert in DIY to someone as skilled in that art as was dear old Cyril Smith in hang-gliding. But last evening’s gazing at the TV brought great cheer. When the doctor came he pronounced my pulse as normal, it was fortunate he didn’t arrive during the England v Sweden match. Had he done so I would now be waiting on an NHS corridor trolley, an innovation of Lansley’s ‘reforms’. The England comeback followed brave substitutions made by Roy Hodgson, perhaps we at last have a good choice as manager. And by way of a bonus he speaks English!
First thing to catch my eye when she-who-must-be-obeyed brought in the papers this morning was the latest honours list. I scanned it, applying the Andrew Marr test as I did so. Marr recently ridiculed the awarding of honours to people who had done no more than the job for which they are well paid. And there they all were, first one to catch my eye was our dear leader’s Chipping Norton colleague, Charles Dunstone.
He co-founded the Carphone Warehouse 22 years ago with £6000 of his savings, and saw it grow into one of the country’s largest mobile phone dealers. Today he has a personal fortune of £860 million, so his Conservative Party donations are mere pocket-money. And all credit to him. But why, other than the fact that he is a member of the nation’s most exclusive clique, should be receive a knighthood? The whole thing is elitist nonsense.
But for me today’s big story is the announcement of the cabinet investigation into the claims made at the Leveson Inquiry by Rupert Murdoch that immediately after the Sun’s switch to the Tories, Gordon Brown called him to berate him about it and to threaten that “his government would now make war on News Corp”. Brown immediately denied that such a call ever took place, but both the Murdochs and David Cameron have made great play of the supposed fact that Grumpy Gordon was every bit as tainted as they quite clearly are. Now comes the shock!
According to Murdoch, speaking under oath, the long abusive call came just after the Sun’s announcement, which was made just after Brown’s party conference speech in September 2009. The Cabinet Office yesterday announced that there had been no call that month. It went on to add that only one call was made during the whole of 2009. As was Brown’s practice, that was listened in to by Downing Street staff whose notes reveal that the only subject covered was Afghanistan.
So either the story was a total invention or the Cabinet Office civil servants are involved in a huge cover-up, something as likely as my opening for England. One hopes that Lord Leveson will now be inviting Murdoch to pay him a repeat visit!
I have always had suspicions about the dramatic claims. Back in 2009 I, as chairman of an NHS Trust, had a meeting with an MP who was then a PPS to one of the Labour ministers. I asked him about Grumpy Gordon. He told me that going in to see him was a nightmare in that he would stop you in midflight and tell you that he was not interested in ‘rubbish’, only facts. Mr Brown, my visitor told me, was too honest, too forthright, too obsessed with pure facts. It painted the picture of a prime minister who was inconsiderate of the feelings of others, who spoke the truth whoever he wounded. Grumpy but scrupulously honest.
Add that to the findings of the Cabinet Office and Brown’s heated refutal of Murdoch’s claim and what do you have? It can only be that the story was an invention. That being so you are left wondering just how much of the other Murdoch/Cameron versions of everything has more substance than an Enid Blyton book.
Meantime I notice that Paul Jenkins has been knighted. He was the lawyer who Cameron claims gave him the legal go-ahead in 2010 for the appointment of Jeremy Hunt despite being on holiday at the time, as a result of which he had not seen Mr Hunt’s comments on BSkyB. Now there’s a surprise.
As I slide down under the duvet again my final resolution is to trust no one. With the exception of Roy Hodgson of course!
QUOTES FOR TODAY; “I couldn’t believe it when I read that 82 % of men would rather sleep with a goat than me”…..Sarah Ferguson “Buckingham Palace isn’t ours. It’s a tied cottage”……Prince Philip “I declare this thing open. Whatever it is”……Prince Philip “I left England when I was four when I found out that I could never be king”….Bob Hope “A jury is twelve people chosen to decide who has the best lawyer”…..Robert Frost “There is nothing like a solemn oath. People always think you mean it”…..Norman Douglas