Amanda Platell sees a glint in Blunkett's eye
That glint in David Blunkett's eye, and the cold shoulder from my co-presenter
If it were not in such poor taste, I would be tempted to say that the former home secretary David Blunkett played a blinder with his DIY relaunch. It started with an interview with Jackie Ashley in the Guardian's bumper-selling Saturday paper, was topped up with a rather poignant one-to-one with David Frost on Breakfast With Frost on Sunday,
and culminated with him launching his Proud to be English campaign on the Today programme on Monday, slipping back into ministerial mode to offer advice on the row over policing, just to remind us what we're missing.
As he talked about his new-found humility on Frost, I could have sworn I saw tears. Or was that just the naked glint of ambition?
In politics, strategy is often only discovered after the event, and this was never more true than for the launch of Michael Howard's policy on abortion. Despite his impeccable credentials as a defender of traditional Tory family values in all their permutations, there is no way the Conservative leader set out to make abortion a central plank of this election campaign on the day of his interview with Cosmopolitan magazine. The liberal Notting Hill set that advises him would sooner have tranquillised him than allow him to do that.
No, the move was down to a rather media-savvy editor - Cosmopolitan's Sam Baker - together with a real change in the public mood and the intervention of Cardinal Cormac Murphy O'Connor, leader of the four million-plus Roman Catholics in England and Wales.
Speaking for myself, I believe the legal limit for abortion should be shrunk again, this time to 20 weeks, as babies born at the current limit of 24 weeks have a 39 per cent chance of survival.
Whether it was courage or coincidence, Howard has managed to do with abortion what he has already done with immigration, asylum and the National Health Service: ignite a real debate. And Tony Blair's argument for leaving the legal limit where it is (to change it would "criminalise women") misses the point.We criminalise women who make the "choice" to end their child's life if they do so after the child is born, however difficult the circumstances.
The issue is not about difficulty, but about life, and if we now believe a foetus has a good chance of sustaining life at 24 weeks, then it should be made illegal for that life to be ended, even by its mother.
Revenge is a dish best served cold, and cold it was at the entrance to the Axis restaurant in Aldwych, where my co-presenter Piers Morgan was holding the London book launch for his diaries. You guessed it - my name was not on the guest list and much embarrassment ensued as I tried to blag my way in.
Stars of the night were Piers's graceful and gracious mother and grandmother, and his son who, when asked for his high points, recounted meeting some cricketer, Mohamed Al Fayed (the man who owns all those toys at Harrods) and "the girl you do the show with". If only his dad possessed such a generous nature.
David Aaronovitch's defection from the Guardian to the Times is an inspired coup by the editor Robert Thomson. Having suffered the colossal blow of losing Simon Jenkins, it is important that the Times retain its other heavyweight writers. And Aaronovitch, the Rocky Balboa of the broadsheets, is politically perfect for the pro-war, anti-Tory Times.
As for Thomson, Sholto Byrnes did well to get to the heart of him in his interview for the Independent's media section. It really is starting to give the Guardian a run for its money.
But Byrnes was misled when told that Thomson was calculating about his appearance and dressed like a dude. I've known him since our days at the Sydney Morning Herald 20 years ago, and when it comes to clothes, frankly my dear, he doesn't give a damn - bless him.
Talking of getting under the skin of another journalist, when did Jonathan Dimbleby's get so thin? I'm a big fan of his. He is a smart broadcaster, and his Tony Blair audience show on ITV with disenchanted female voters was first-rate television. But his agitation in the Daily Telegraph (15 March) over protecting his privacy was surprising, as he'd invited Jan Moir to interview him in the first place - and this at a time when his private life is, shall we say, far from settled. In her inimitable way, Moir managed to say everything about Dimbleby's personal crisis without him really saying anything.