Life is about co-incidences and I am sure that the exposure of Prime Minister David Cameron in a Murdoch owned newspaper has nothing to do with the estrangement between The Tory party and Murdoch’s News International Group.
The sight of the 80 year old Murdoch being grilled in front of a Commons committee was unedifying for some and sweet revenge for others. The much vaunted Parliamentary security couldn’t even manage to give the Octogenarian the kind of protection any witness was entitled to expect, and it was his wife who jumped to his aid when a missile hurled at the media boss turned out to be a bag of flour. It could have been far worse.
Much mirth was made of the News International claim that phone hacking at the now defunct News of the World was the work of one rogue reporter who was acting alone and without encouragement or permission from his bosses. As News International’s case unravelled in front of their eyes lessons were their to be learned.
David Cameron and his advisers failed to take them on board. Or if they did note them they were far too arrogant to keep them at the forefront of their minds. David Cameron would not be the first Prime Minister to think his position unassailable. Tony Blair was not called “Teflon Tony,” for nothing
So when the hapless Tory party joint treasurer Peter Cruddas was caught, making extravagant claims to Sunday Times undercover reporters of how influence with David Cameron could be bought with the ease of a transaction in an Arab bazaar — as long as you had the odd £250,000 available — Cameron’s men acted with the same indecisiveness that was the hallmark of the News of the World all those years earlier.
Cruddas, like News of the World royal reporter Clive Goodman was immediately thrown to the Wolves, and then the cover up began. The Treasurer, like Goodman, was acting alone, claimed No 10. No money changed hands, and no body in the hierarchy of the Tory party knew what Cruddas was up to. Though that must have come as a surprise to the now dumped treasurer. It was an almost identical defence to that originally put up by News International, and it failed. If you interchange the names Goodman and Cruddas there is not a scintilla of difference.
If Cameron expected some help and appreciation from the press, or at least the Tory side of it, he was to be a disappointed man. He might have temporarily brought low the Murdoch empire and thwarted their short term wish to own all of Sky TV but the opposition news paper dynasties have short memories when it comes to a choice of gratitude and a good story. Especially when they saw the judicial inquiry started by Cameron denigrating their names and reputations and threatening to dump their voluntary code of ethics for something more legal and binding.
Judicial inquires are often set up by Government’s to kick topics into the long grass. In this case it appears the inquiry after many weeks of sitting is seeing the wood from the trees, and the papers do not like it.
So instead of a thank you Mr Cameron for cutting Murdoch down to size the big guns of Fleet Street are taking aim at the jugular and Cameron is feeling the noose tighten around his neck. With no ex News International staff on the payroll to smooth the way, and an ever increasing band of disgruntled right wing MP’s behind him baying for blood, there is no one to take the pressure off him. Perhaps he should forget about inviting star struck businessmen around for dinner at £250,000 a head and inquire whether Mr Murdoch would like to come to tea. He could always, as he told the inquiry was his custom, slip in through the back door.