Watching Brief - Amanda Platell thinks Tony Blair is a cad
Meet Tony Blair, the compulsive cad who preys on vulnerable women like Pam Warren, Mo Mowlam, Gwynet
Has Tony Blair become a serial offender? We're not talking Jack the Ripper here, or Angus (Deayton) the bodice-ripper, more a charming but compulsive cad who preys on vulnerable women.
Another month, another face, another image of abuse. Now we have the masked and burned features of Pam Warren - the latest Blair victim. The Paddington rail disaster survivor is about as close as we get to a modern heroine - and the latest target of a new Labour smear campaign. Their attempts to discredit her Paddington Survivors Group have crashed headlong into the government's integrity.
How could they get it so wrong? Alastair Campbell's explanation of the events in a letter of clarification to the Independent, describing the e-mail as "ill-judged" and "offensive", was breathtaking in its cynicism, a pure deceit. After all, this is the man who perfected Blair's bully-boy tactics.
People are wearying of new Labour's SS tactics - spin and smear. And Blair, who created this particular monster, is to blame. He has given us nearly a decade of politics as pictures, images where all that matters is the "eye-catching initiative" delivered in the right setting for the 15-second soundbite on the evening news. Now these images - they are mostly of women - have started to haunt his leadership: Pam Warren in her mask of pain, Rose Addis on a hospital trolley, Mo Mowlam sniggered out of office, the stabbing of Gwyneth Dunwoody, the contempt of the Women's Institute.
The slow clap of discontent is spreading through the country. Blair's priceless ability almost to smell the nation's mood has deserted him. Whether it is his love of the pound or the death of a princess, Blair has always succeeded in scooping up the nation's mood and draping himself in it. Never more magnificently did he display this instinct than over the death of Diana. With that tearful televised eulogy in the dappled late afternoon light in his back garden, Blair became the People's Prime Minister.
Yet he has missed and misjudged the mood this time. New Labour was completely unprepared for the outpouring of popular support for the Queen on her jubilee; and it was caught off guard by the response to the Pam Warren smear.
Whether it be down to the Queen's 50 years, David Beckham's right foot or Lennox Lewis's right hook, the nation has rarely felt so good about itself and yet new Labour has seldom been so unpopular. Within a week of the jubilee celebrations and the monarchy receiving an 81 per cent approval rating, the government's popularity had slumped to 39 per cent in a Mail on Sunday poll.
Counter-claims of an assault by the right-wing press ring hollow. It was the Independent on Sunday that ran the splash headline: "I'm a victim of the smear machine, too", by Gwyneth Dunwoody. And the Mirror that warned Blair: "it isn't [the government's] enemies who are sick of the obsession with spin and propaganda, it is their friends".
As Mark Steyn wrote in the Telegraph, "a successful nation has to be, to one degree or another, a romance". Blair used to understand that.
Still, Tony Blair has not completely lost his touch. The leaking of the imminent honour to Mick Jagger is a clever bit of "trash and burn" politics. As with the House of Lords, he seeks to discredit the honours system to such an extent that it becomes first a laughing stock, then obsolete. Who better to do this than the soon-to-be Sir Mick Jagger, the man who holds women - even women he loves and who bear his children - in such contempt that he faked his own wedding? A man whose idea of charity is donating sperm to any young women he can get into the back of his limo.
Mo Mowlam revealed in her Sunday Mirror column that she is just like the rest of us: "As the summer approaches, we delve in our drawers to find our bikinis and swimsuits." Mo admits she has finally given up on her bikinis.
She then explained why she would never have liposuction and that she is happy with her size. One of the reasons we loved Mo was because she was not like the rest of us, she was an extraordinary woman who succeeded against all the odds in what is still, despite the Blair Babe initiative, a misogynistic party in the misogynistic world of politics.
Unmissable reading in the Sunday Times Magazine: Clarkson and Gill ride again - a middle-aged-bloke version of Thelma and Louise without the suicide scene. Adrian (as in AA, or "the idiot", as Clarkson calls him) shows Jeremy (who loathes America) around his beloved New York. Then the bigot takes the idiot to a little town in Texas. There's something irrepressible and increasingly irresistible about Clarkson; the more you see of him, the better it gets. And he can write.