Tony Caught Offside
Blair's appearance on yesterday's Football Focus (BBC1) had Alastair Campbell's fingerprints all over it.
We know that Campbell still advises Blair unofficially and the sight of a casually-dressed Prime Minister joshing with the lads about football exemplified the Campbell mantra: when the going gets tough, the tough plant their arses on a daytime television sofa.
The appearance was actually booked well before this week's events because it was listed in Radio Times: "Tony Blair guests on the day his beloved Newcastle United face Birmingham City." That would be the beloved Newcastle where Blair once claimed to have watched Jackie Milburn play, despite the fact that Milburn retired long before the infant Blair ever stood on the terraces.
But this doesn't necessarily disprove my point. If they still have an event grid on the wall in Downing Street they would have known that this was the week the Terrorism Bill would explode in Blair's face, even if they hadn't pencilled in Blunkett's second resignation.
And nothing better dispels the image of neurotic, or even psychotic, Tony than demotic Tony, scattering dropped consonants across the airwaves like confetti at a Chav wedding.
Mercifully, I didn't see the whole performance. But the clips shown on the news included a moment when the supposedly brilliant actor Blair forgot which character he was playing and had to go back and correct himself. Speaking of Alex Ferguson he said:
"My old mate Alex......[pause].......me old mate Alex."
But I suppose when you've been starring in the same Whitehall farce for eight years and playing more parts than an old time repertory actor, you're bound to lose concentration occasionally.