David Blunkett, the blind British bonkrat Labor Work & Pensions Secretary famously went chasing an injunction last year to stop Channel 4 broadcasting the special Who’s The Daddy, lampooning his affair with Kimberly Fortier, the married American publisher of the eccentric Tory weekly, The Spectator.

New antics in the pants department have been in the news since then. Private Eyehas a rather nice take on Blunkett’s latest in its current edition. The Minister is not amused, and keeps muttering threats.

But Silvio Berlusconi beats Blunkett any day, and now the Italian Prime Minister has launched an impassioned attack on comedians who mock him on Italian television, after the launch last week of a satirical program called RockPolitik, according to The Independent.

“It’s only the latest attack of a system of communication, of television and the press, that since 2001 has systematically attacked the government and the Prime Minister,” the Indie has him as saying.

“He then read out a list of seven Italian television personalities who he claimed were guilty of such attacks. The last time Mr Berlusconi read out such a list, the comedienne and two television journalists named were quickly barred from the airwaves. It has yet to be seen whether the same fate awaits his seven new enemies. The new show, hosted by ageing rocker Adriano Celentano, won huge ratings – peaking at 14.2 million, or 47 per cent of Italian viewers – for the appearance of Michele Santoro, one of the three sidelined three years ago by Mr Berlusconi, on his comeback to the Italian airwaves.”

As The Independent comments: “To the outside world there is something bizarre about a media mogul worth more than $6 billion (£3.4bn) complaining of being victimised. His company owns Italy’s three national commercial television stations and he has political control of the state-owned Rai channels.”

It quotes Romano Prodi, leader of the centre-left opposition, as saying “They are launching a new list of proscriptions. The problem is not what Celentano said, but what the TV news programs say or do not say every day.”

Australia has never really had any really vicious satire like the British classic Spitting Image– or the legion of international imitators it inspired even in countries like Russia.

However, our politicians still don’t like criticism – let alone mockery. Lawyers have put local attempts at Private Eye style publications – like Robbie Swan’s Matilda – out of business. We’re about the closest you get – and we cop enough.

No doubt in parliaments around the country as the news from Italy seeps through it will be bravo to Berlusconi – and bugger his curious ethical approach. As always.

Peter Fray

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