The edge - Amanda Platell mourns Mo too

Surely Sian Williams's stint in Pakistan qualifies her for a job on <em>Breakfast</em>. Or does she

For the many who loved her and gave me quizzical looks when I turned up for Mo Mowlam's memorial service, let me just say: part of Mo's magic was that she did not belong to the left alone. Yes, she was of it and part of it, one of its principal architects, as Tony Blair reminded us via a pre-recorded video link (at least that's what I think I heard him say - there was a lot of hissing going on at the time).

Forget about friendship, forget about love. Given her political significance, I was not alone in being surprised that Blair could not spare a couple of hours to honour Mo. Words come cheap, especially pre-recorded ones. What a sad denouement that the most distinguished member of the government to put in an appearance that night was John Prescott. They owed Mo more than that. But then, in the end, she would probably have preferred to be among friends, not the colleagues who whispered behind her back when she was at her peak and they wanted her out.

But no, Mo did not belong to the left alone. She also belonged to the clumsy, spotty, useless trainee waiter who served our table one year at conference and whom she managed to charm from his awkwardness. She also belonged to the mothers and fathers and children of Northern Ireland who owe her the debt of peace. And to people everywhere who saw in her an honesty and courage not often found in our politicians. And yes, she belonged to those who turned up last Sunday, from left and right, to honour a great woman the like of whom we will probably never see again.

How many do we know who could or would have fought on to be part of a government she had dreamed of, despite being diagnosed with a brain tumour seven months before its election? As Mo's husband, Jon Norton, wrote his farewell to her shortly before she died, the Kinks's "Thank you for the days" came on. Yes, in our different ways, we can all thank Mo for the days.

Gosh, was it only a matter of months ago when Madonna was one of the heroines of the anti-war campaign, her opposition to George Bush belted out in her last album but one, American Life, and throughout her world tour? Now, with the death toll in Iraq reaching almost a hundred British soldiers, more than 2,000 Americans and countless civilians, and with every day bringing news of more families destroyed by suicide bombers, Madonna has had a change of heart. "I did that already. I don't need to be going on about the war in Iraq. Now it's fuck everything, let's dance." Her aversion to war wouldn't have anything to do with the fact that American Life spectacularly bombed, would it?

Once I recovered from my bitter disappointment at not finding Jeremy Vine sitting in his Radio 2 studio wearing fishnet stockings for Children in Need, I was delighted to be in the company of three greats of TV news, and yes, amazingly, they were all women. Anna Ford, Angela Rippon and Sian Williams were all in his studio the week when Channel 4's Jon Snow attacked the trend of employing presenters for their looks not their news background. That charge could not be laid at the door of these three women: they also looked fabulous, yet there is not a major news-presenting gig between them.

I would love to see Williams made a permanent fixture on BBC1's Breakfast. Surely her impressive recent stint covering the earthquake in Pakistan, where she slept in the back of a car and lived off chocolate bars, should qualify her for that job. Or does she have to win Strictly Come Dancing first?

The edge of reality . . . Elton John appears on a country music awards show in New York performing John Lennon's "Imagine" with Dolly Parton. Without a trace of irony, Elton - who has amassed a fortune of at least £160m, has homes in Windsor, the south of France and the US, and once spent £527,859 in a day's shopping - came in on the lines "Imagine no possessions, I wonder if you can".

This article first appeared in the 28 November 2005 issue of the New Statesman, Apartheid