It is very difficult to write a diary giving a UK view based upon a single topic. In part, it is a function of there being so much rubbish out there that it is difficult to focus on any one single point.
I guess this is another home run for Bush. Rack up the pressure on Iran, have the good luck to have Korea calmly announce that the talks aimed at banning the development of atomic weapons are now irrelevant as they already have them and, hey presto, a few trillion undermisestimatated on Medicaid and an adverse report on pre-9/11 warnings drops below the radar of the headlines.
Still, I suppose that I should follow the main media and deal with the story that has appeared above the fold on the front pages here and, amazingly but distressingly, over there with you.
The Prince of Wales is to marry Camilla Parker-Bowles
"Fuck off and cover something important you twats!". So said Alistair Campbell, who is to Tony Blair what Karl Rove is to the Chimp. Unfortunately, not about the wedding but about the story relating to the Conservative Leader of Her Majesty's Opposition, Michael Howard.
It appears that in the pre-election campaign advert, Howard has been depicted as a flying pig. "Anti-Semitic!" is the cry of the Conservatives. Fair enough. Let them choose their own animal, I say.
It also appears that Campbell had not intended the text message directly for the BBC, after they invited him to comment on the flying pig story. It was meant "for a friend". With friends like Alistair Campbell, someone is in need of a bit of therapy.
I am rather sympathetic to Campbell. In a second email to the BBC he blamed his mistake on the fact he was "not very good at this email Blackberry malarkey". I am exactly like that about using the internets. Hence all the mistakes in my diaries - and not, as someone unkindly suggested last week, because half the time I write them when partaking too generously of the fifteen year old malt. (When, seriously, can you ever be too generous with the malt?)
The Public Apology
Although denied the ability to do so in the House of Commons, Tony Blair issued a public apology to two families wrongly jailed for IRA bombings 31 years ago.
It was a magnificent performance by our Tony. The emotion was deep, the feelings of remorse flowed like the water across my today-closed golf course and the heartfelt regrets were unbounded.
The apology was needed. Four people were jailed including Gerry Conlon, whose father, Giuseppe Conlon, died in jail after being imprisoned with members of the Maguire family for the Woolwich bomb. Their convictions were quashed in 1989 and 1991 but the psychological trauma on Conlon and the families has been immense.
Of course, it was not the Labour party that incarcerated them. So it was a double freebie for Tony. It gave him a platform to show the rich vein of humanity that drives his very being, whilst subtlety pointing out the wickedness of the Conservatives.
Strange that this apology should come in a week when Blair has yet again lost a High Court case in which he once more wanted to imprison yet another man without charge or trial. I suppose the logic is that, unlike Gerry Conlon, by not having a trial the Home Office will never be accused of wrongful conviction.
In any case, they can always apologise in 31 years time.
Democracy Spreads - Like An Oil Slick In An Environmentally Sensitive Area
Saudi Arabia goes to the polls today in landmark municipal elections. Golly gosh, that should keep the Chimp's critics quiet.
Except that this is democracy Saudi-style: It is only municipal elections and only men can vote and half of the municipal members will be appointed by the Government.
Meanwhile, it was nice of Iyad Allawi, the Iraqi interim Prime Minister, to come to London last week to thank the British people for their support. I suppose he means a few deaths and a lot of money to his bank account which enabled him to run much the most expensive campaign of the Iraqi election. This included a five-part television series on al-Arabiya that made much of his erstwhile Baathist credentials. The valuable result was that his share of the vote actually got into double figures - just.
Except, don't take anything written about the Iraqi elections as a fact at the moment. They are doing a recount, aren't they? I mean. It is amazing what you can find by doing a recount (as the Chimp is too well aware).
With such a small turnout and half the ballot papers not getting to the areas where no one wanted them to get to in any case, it is surprising that these recounts are taking so long. I mean, the whole of the UK is completed in twenty-four hours. But then, consideration of the implications of the result is done after the count is announced in the UK, which is just sloppy, I guess.
Anyhow, it is good to see old Ahmad Chalabi of the Iraqi National Congress back in a leading position after the election. He has now secured the support of some important compatriots to become prime minister, or else vice-president.
So, all that CIA money over all those years has not been wasted and they still have the opportunity to arrest him again.
Condi, Europe, Syria and Iran
You will have seen the photos of Condi's trip around the great centres of the world, spreading her own particular form of charm and happiness.
Of her trips, it can be said that her suits are nice. This is important in French diplomatic circles. A new museum has opened in memory of Winston Churchill in the UK. It has a lot of hitherto unseen film footage. The most notable feature that has drawn the attention of commentators is how crumpled and dishevelled his suits are in some of the sequences. No wonder de Gaulle viewed him with suspicion.
Of course, Condi has been a bit cruel to Europe. It is all very well declaring that relations have now thawed (which I am sure came as a bit of surprise to many of the leaders that she met) but it was a bit icy to then say that Europe was being soft on Iran.
In fairness, her trip has been so successful in pulling us all together, and she obviously came across as a nice person, that the European Union has immediately ignored the Chimp's wishes and lifted the arms embargo on China. Who said that Condi was going to be abrasive and unwelcome?
Really, Condi is my sort of woman. I am at that age when I dislike change. She is the epitome of my need for stability. It is so comforting to have the familiar pre-Iraq war rhetoric spoken by her about Iran - it gives a sense of déjà vu that requires no sudden need to become accustomed to change.
I mentioned Syria in the title of this section simply because no one else, least of all Condi, mentions it. It is such a shame. I hope they are not offended at not being the centre of Condi's attention.
I fear this neglect, however, is because most of Syria's weaponry all pre-dates 1991, except for a handful of newly-purchased Kornet AT-14 anti-tank missiles. I understand that you all in the US are very concerned about these. It requires more immediate action than Korea.
The Debka site says that the key Middle East happening in the coming weeks will be US military strikes against Syria, although not full invasion. The election of Mahmoud Abbas as Palestinian Authority chairman, his invitation to the White House, the formation of the Sharon-Peres government coalition - albeit on very shaky legs, and the Israel-Palestinian peace negotiations, will prove to be no more than sideshows of the main event. But then that DEBKA-Net-Weekly is a very weird site, what with its claims of inside knowledge of Israeli intelligence and all.
Ah well, I suppose it will make Syria feel important, again. After all, how can you lift your head in international circles if you do not have a few US missiles raining down on them?
Other UK News
Let me see. I've done the Pretender Charles and his missus-to-be, done Blair and his emotion, done Condi and her suits.
I mentioned at the weekend that Wales beat England in rugger. No harm in mentioning it a few more times this week on here. Well, at least the result was a greater surprise than the Patriots winning or that the 9/11 attack was going to happen.
I haven't mentioned that a man was stabbed and would-be bargain-hunters suffered heat exhaustion as a crushing crowd of thousands forced a flagship Ikea superstore to close on opening night. I cannot help but think that the effect on the crowd will be nothing like as severe as the effect of trying to erect all that flat-packed furniture when they eventually get it home.
I should mention that Britain's humiliating exit from the European exchange rate mechanism, which Conservative Prime Minster Thatcher took us into in 1991 and Conservative Prime Minister Major fell out of, cost taxpayers £4bn, according to confidential Treasury documents released yesterday under the Freedom of Information Act. I should mention it but I won't. What's a few billions of unbudgeted cost to a nation like yours that talks happily in trillions?
I have high hopes that Blair, in his third term of office (or is it his fourth? The man seems to have been around forever) will waste money on a scale that even you Americans will acknowledge puts us into the big league.
And so off to the golf range, given the disruption to my match this morning.