Campbell to Gordon: Relax, stop worrying about my book

Author: By Oliver Duff

With his lucrative diaries to promote, however, Campbell has overcome his inadequacies and boldly launched his very own blog, Diary of a Diary. Campbell used the first entry yesterday afternoon to conciliate the man set to benefit least from his colourful recollections of Downing Street spats, Gordon Brown.

“I have seen close-up how hard the job of Prime Minister is,” writes Campbell, “and I have no desire to make it harder for anyone, let alone Gordon, who has been central to New Labour winning power, and staying in power.” We’ll see!

Responding to the criticism of the “opportunist” tome, which he hopes will “become a part of the historical record”, he says: “Whilst I know there are some people in Government who disapprove in principle of a former government employee publishing a diary, I think they would accept I have been punctilious in my approach to the vetting process.”

True to form, Campbell tries to drive a stake through the heart of another story doing the rounds, that he has clashed with the Cabinet Secretary Gus O’Donnell about indiscreet entries, joking that they have met and “had a nice friendly chat about all the big rows we’ve had, apparently”. How they must have laughed!

* Good luck to the Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone and his Croatian ex-model wife Slavica in their bid tomorrow to become the Derby-winning racehorse owners with the greatest height differential.

If Petara Bay wins at Epsom, against the odds, the colt will be led into the winner’s enclosure by 6ft 2in Slavica, 48. He was bought for £357,000 and named after their daughters, Petra and Tamara. He carries Mrs Ecclestone’s silks of pink and white check.

Bernie has commented that women “should wear white, like a domestic appliance, and shouldn’t be allowed out. You don’t take the washing machine out of the house, do you?” Perhaps the 5ft 4in mogul ought to look over his shoulder in the parade ring lest someone try to give him a leg-up onto a passing horse.

But then, Bernie is 74 and worth £2.25bn. Who’s laughing?

* Christopher Hitchens versus Peter Hitchens is one of the great public family wars and it was a disappointment in 2005 when the brothers declared a détente. (In 2001, Christopher was upset by Peter’s suggestion that he’d been a Stalinist; he claims to be a Trotskyite.)

I am pleased, then, to announce a resumption of hostilities this weekend, as the avidly Christian Mail on Sunday scribe, Peter, below, takes a tomahawk to his atheist sibling’s new, sitting-on-the-fence book, god Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything.

“Without breaking any confidences, it would be fair to say that I don’t entirely agree with his view,” chuckles Peter. “I’ve turned down suggestions to review him in the past, but I thought we could battle this one out on equal ground. That is, he gets a whole book and I just a review.”

* Disappointment for aspiring Tory MPs when yesterday’s 6.30pm weekly conference call with Cameron’s “tigerish” political director George Bridges was cancelled. One cynical candidate smells a rat: “Nothing to do with how pissed off some of us are with Cameron over grammar schools?” No.

* Labour artefact Roy Hattersley, lecturing Hay literati on Shakespeare, compared Blair to Macbeth: “If it were done when ’tis done, then ’twere well / It were done quickly.” Tony was ruder about him.

* 1 November 2006: Pandora reports an A-list celebrity friend of the Beckhams: “David is going to get a knighthood.” Beckham’s agent denies it.


* Viewers of Sky Arts may be interested to know that the channel’s interview with Bob Geldof from the Hay Literary Festival had to be edited, and edited, and edited, and then edited a little more, to remove the dishevelled Mother Teresa’s customary buttering of profanities.

Asked by his interviewer Mariella Frostrup to stop “focking”, Geldof said: “Yeah but it’s Sky, no one watches it anyway.” Muttering production staff subsequently scurried about reworking the material; one gofer was overheard phoning a colleague just before transmission: “We’ve missed another one!”

Geldof played an Irish folk gig at the festival, “acting as though he were some sort of rock god, putting his hands up in the air,” according to my woman waving her cigarette lighter from side to side at the back. He wore a bright, Colman’s-yellow suit. “The zipper is broken on the trouser bit but it’s nothing to do with my physicality,” he told the palpitating fans. “And sorry to the 80-year-olds at the front as I will be taking off the jacket later.”

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