WE’VE all played that little game called ‘name your four perfect dinner guests.’
One of mine would certainly be David Starkey, the mischievous, peppery little historian I once saw give a compelling hour-long talk on 200 years of the British monarchy without the aid of a single note.
But he was uncharacteristically reticent on Question Time when asked about the malignant web which has ensnared the London School of Economics with Libya and the more questionable proponents of New Labour.
Starkey taught history at the LSE for more than a quarter of a century before eventually succumbing to the lure of cash and cult status provided by regular appearances on television and radio. But he has remained pleasingly rebarbative and outspoken throughout – except the other evening.
He bristled and bridled when the discussion got around to the way in which the LSE had benefited from its close relationship with Libya in general and Saif Gaddafi in particular.
Starkey holds the LSE in a good deal of affection, so the matter clearly pained him.
He muttered his disapproval but seemed relieved when the subject was passed on to other panellists who were not so reluctant to make their feelings known.
It is doubtful whether the LSE will ever be able to remove the stain left on its reputation by its association with the Libyan madman, his son, Blair and BP.
Deals were forged and donations agreed by this gruesome quartet which dragged a previously respectable bastion of British academia into the rancid netherworld of corporate politics.
So far Sir Howard Davies has been the only one to fall on his sword.
The director of LSE resigned over ‘a personal error of judgement,’ while bleating all the while that his school’s academic independence had not been impugned by its acceptance of financial aid from Saif Gaddafi.
But another pious rabble-rouser is keeping her head well below the parapet as the bullets, quite literally, fly.
Shami Chakrabarti is the director of Liberty, the human rights pressure group, and a self-appointed conscience of the nation.
She is also on the council of the LSE – but we have heard nary a reproving word from her as Gaddafi and his henchman grind the human rights of the Libyan people into the blood-soaked sand.
THE people of Barnsley Central were understandably eager to cleanse the town’s reputation after their MP, Eric Illsley, was jailed for fiddling his expenses.
What better Labour replacement could they have than a clean-cut former Army major who served in Afghanistan and was so eager to represent them he even resigned his commission to stand for the seat?
But when Dan Jarvis made his acceptance speech, there was something about him which made me feel uneasy.
Then the penny dropped.
He looks and sounds like an unfortunate cross between radio presenter Johnny Vaughan and his lordship, Baron Mandelson of Everywhere.