Keith Newbery: What real damage has WikiLeaks done?

Just when we were poised to enter that period of news impoverishment normally associated with the build-up to Christmas, along comes WikiLeaks with an early present for us all.

What fun there is to be had at the sight of the American government contorting itself into paroxysms of fury, guilt and indignation over the world-wide exposure of its diplomatic tittle-tattle.

But what real damage has this leak of classified American embassy cables done?

What secrets have been revealed about which we were supposed not to suspect a thing?

So the Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, is being compared to Hitler.

So North Korean dictator, Kim Jong-Il, is described as a ‘flabby old chap,’ and there are plans to reunite Korea when the communist north eventually implodes.

So Italian prime minister, Silvia Berlusconi, is considered to be ‘feckless, vain and ineffective’ as a modern European leader.

Is there anyone with half a brain cell who hadn’t worked all this out for themselves?

Is there really anyone who clasped their hand over their mouth and muffled a squeal of shock upon learning that Prince Andrew had been described as ‘rude’ and cocky,’ or that American officials regard Russia as a corrupt mafia state?

Conspiracy theorists will think they’ve hit the mother lode, but these are not state secrets. They are merely confirmation of what everyone thought America was really thinking.

We’re all big boys and girls. We realise the darkest art of politics is the ability to say one thing while believing another.

For example, it is almost inevitable that in the fullness of time we will learn that David Cameron could never stand Vince Cable and regarded his presence in the government as a price which had to be paid if the coalition was to have a chance of working.

We will discover that Simon Hughes always regarded Nick Clegg as more right wing than the Prime Minister and couldn’t wait for the Con-Dem arrangement to collapse.

It doesn’t take a vast knowledge of current affairs to work this stuff out – just a basic understanding of human nature.

WikiLeaks? WikiDribbles more like.


One of the more amusing revelations to emerge from the WikiLeaks brouhaha concerns the relationship between Messrs Cameron and Clegg.

Apparently, the Lib Dem leader took offence after receiving an ‘aggressive invitation to dinner’ from his Conservative counterpart.

What wording can possibly have evoked such a reaction? One can only speculate.

Perhaps it was something like this: “Oi! Bouffant Boy! Get your backside over to my place tonight.

“Sam will stick a couple of pizzas under the grill and you can sit and listen while I tell you how we’re going to run this country over the next five years.”


To use one of show-business’s more grandiloquent clichés, David Beckham has certainly been on an interesting journey.

In the course or 35 years he has gone from being a London laddo, to a global mannequin, to the finest ambassador English football has produced since Bobby Charlton.

His performance in Zurich this week may not have been enough to bring the World Cup to these shores in 2018, but he acquitted himself well in the presence of princes and prime ministers.

It seems inevitable that his journey will end on one knee in Buckingham Palace, as the Queen declares: “Arise Sir David.”