Watching brief - Amanda Platell on Cherie, Queen of Sacred Hearts

At David Yelland's star-studded goodbye party, Cherie confronted her chief tormentor Richard Littlej

The favoured setting for political back-stabbings used to be the House of Commons. These days, the knife is more often wielded on national television or Radio 4's Today programme. So when Michael Portillo chose The World at One for what turned out to be a botched assassination attempt on Iain Duncan Smith, observers were left asking: why Wato?

Word has it he chose the BBC's lunchtime show partly because, in a rare moment of self-awareness, he realised he was not up to a grilling from either John Humphrys or Jim Naughtie, and partly because he believes his Latin looks get in the way of the message. With his best more-in-sorrow-than-anger baritone, Portillo had what can only be described as a Catherine Zeta-Jones moment as he spoke of his hurt and devastation on discovering IDS had sacked his protege Mark MacGregor. The judge's interrogation of Zeta-Jones had been a gentle affair, with due respect paid to her pregnancy. The Wato interview was equally soft - though the only thing swelling within Portillo was his ambition.

If he needed reminding about the kind of support he could expect as either king or kingmaker of the Tory party, he needed to look no further than the two papers upon which the future of any Tory leader relies. The Daily Mail ran a special editorial on page two describing Portillo as "unscrupulous, self-serving and shallow". The Sun's editorial said: "That snake Portillo can't see a belt without hitting below it" - and concluded that he was a "disgruntled, disloyal dope".

I was pleased to see that Cherie Blair chose a simple silver cross and not her favourite New Age crystal karma pendant for the family's private mass conducted by the Pope at the weekend.

Mrs Blair is understood to have told the Pope that she wishes to become more involved in Catholic charities and to act as an unofficial ambassador for the Catholic Church. Hold on a minute. We've already had the Queen of Hearts with Diana. The last thing this country needs now is a Queen of Sacred Hearts.

She may lack taste when it comes to choosing her friends, but Cherie does not lack guts. At the lavish farewell party for the former Sun editor David Yelland, she walked in with her husband and immediately abandoned him to confront her chief tormentor Richard Littlejohn, the man who nicknamed her the Wicked Witch. If we ever needed testimony to the political power of the Sun and the value attached to its 9.3 million readers by new Labour, then the attendance of the Prime Minister and half the cabinet was it. The Blairs stayed about an hour. He looked exhausted. His clothes hung on him like a teenager dressed in his father's suit at a funeral. All the architects of new Labour were there - Peter Mandelson, Alastair Campbell, Gordon Brown and Philip Gould - to pay homage to Yelland and pay court to Rebekah Wade and the all-powerful News International boss, Les Hinton.

Somehow you can't imagine the same turnout for either the Guardian editor, Alan Rusbridger, or the Daily Mirror editor, Piers Morgan, if their time was up.

Good to see that Mandelson hasn't lost his touch with journalists. He was overheard hissing "shit" at one broadsheet columnist as he walked past at Yelland's party. This kind of behaviour will come as no surprise to his latest victim, the editor of the Hartlepool Mail, Harry Blackwood.

Mandelson has complained to the paper's owner about Blackwood, trying to get him removed because he refuses to be a new Labour lickspittle. Blackwood is now on sick leave. Having experienced Mandelson's vengeance at first hand while I was editor of the Sunday Express, my advice to Blackwood would be - start packing now.

'Ever Mills-McCartney said on BBC1's Parkinson, her first British interview since she married Sir Paul, that she may never have the baby she dreamt of. Not true, love: you've got Paul.

This surprisingly sexless and relentlessly shrill blonde was completely outshone by another guest on the programme - a woman ten years older and about ten stone heavier: Dawn French. Mrs Mac claims: "Romance to me is not just writing a cheque out." But it don't half hurt, eh? And vying with Mills for the award of most smug TV appearance is our very own George Michael, not once - on Breakfast with Frost - but twice - on GMTV - trying to breathe life into the cadaver of his career with an incoherent anti-war rant. Perhaps George is Blair's secret propaganda weapon. This has-been pop star's monologue was enough to turn me pro-war. The time has not yet come when I am prepared to take lectures on morality from a person whose idea of peace on earth and loving his fellow man is picking up strangers in public lavatories for anonymous sex.

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