Auberon Waugh used to say that people who go into politics are all peculiar in one way or another. Chris Huhne certainly fits the bill. It might be thought that a period of silence from the disgraced former Lib Dem minister would not go amiss, but last week, taking a break from the £100,000-a-year job as a part-time energy adviser he walked into, he turned up in The Guardian – with a column saying his downfall was largely Rupert Murdoch’s fault.
What nonsense, said Terence Blacker in The Independent. The bruising humiliations Huhne has suffered – “the speeding points problem, the affair problem, the 12-months-lying-to-the-public problem, followed by the eight-months-prison-sentence problem” – should have been enough, one might think, “to bring a person down to earth. After all, a spell in chokey transformed Jonathan Aitken from a strutting Tory grandee into a modest, slightly dreary chap with a God hang-up.”
But Huhne’s peculiarity is more stubbornly ingrained. Brushing aside his own responsibility in an “I’m no saint” manner, he argued that the real threat to our country is not lying politicians, but beastly journalists. His apologia, said Blacker, combined the weaselly deployment of statistics (300,000 people have apparently swapped speeding points) with a touch of old-fashioned nastiness (describing his ex-wife as “being ‘groomed’” by The Sunday Times). Huhne’s lack of contrition is “breathtaking”, said Richard Littlejohn in the Daily Mail. “Prison is supposed to rehabilitate as well as punish, and perhaps instil a sense of humility… In the case of Chris Huhne, it clearly failed.”
The Prince was right to be livid
Rarely does anyone have a good word for Prince Andrew, but Peter Hitchens was right to defend him in The Mail on Sunday over the “intruder incident” at Buckingham Palace. How could the armed police at the Palace have failed to recognise the prince and treat him as a suspect? He was strolling in the garden “in broad daylight”. His features, as Hitchens says, “should be imprinted on their minds since they are being paid to protect him… It is ridiculous to accuse the Duke of York of having a self-important ‘Don’t you know who I am?’ moment or of being insufferable or pompous.” He was “right to be livid, and we should be livid on his behalf”.
Dubai: a mega-Lego-set of Western decadence
Dubai has never been high on my list of places to visit, and didn’t move any higher after reading David Tang’s view of it in the FT. Never in the history of human endeavours, wrote the paper’s ‘agony uncle’, “have so few in so short a time managed to build such an ostentatious mega-Legoset of Western decadence, gone slightly wrong. The Jumeirah Beach Hotel… painted in gold paint that attempts to pass off as gold leaf, is a nugget of golden kitsch. I can never help bursting into laughter whenever I stay there out of sheer bemusement… over the eyesight of the designer, who might well be a medical phenomenon at Moorfields, that pantheon of ophthalmologists.”
Tabloid money: Suzi Quattro’s advice for the Bank of England
• “Have we rebalanced the economy? There’s been a bit of growth, yes, but nothing to write home about,” says Dermot Murnaghan in the Sunday Mirror. “In some areas… outside London, it’s the first move upwards for years. But everyone can see part of the growing economic optimism is coming from the housing market.” Estate agents are hiring staff “hand over fist”, but all estate agents do is “help us sell boxes of air (houses and flats) to each other. That’s no substitute for making items people need and want to buy.”
• “One of the posh morning papers had a stinging attack on the governor of the Bank of England by a financial expert,” writes Rod Liddle in The Sun. “He should raise the interest rates right now, this economic titan insisted, because the current low rates ‘stink’. Who had The Daily Telegraph turned to for this analysis? None other than minxy leather-clad singer Suzi Quatro. All together now: ‘Make a stand for your man, honey – raise the interest rates now.’ Next week Alvin Stardust on the Syrian crisis and Showaddywaddy… reform the NHS.”
• “Former BBC director-general Mark Thompson’s assertion that his old mate Mark Byford was given almost double his pay-off entitlement so he would focus properly on his job during the final months is as ridiculous as a builder asking for more money than agreed as an incentive for finishing off your extension,” says Jane Moore in The Sun. “As for Thompson’s previous claim that salaries were so high because, otherwise, they would all take their skill sets to the commercial sector, well, on [last week’s] evidence to [the] Public Accounts Committee, most of them would struggle to run a whelk stall.”
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