Five key points Peter Oborne makes today


by Sunny Hundal    
8:50 am - May 3rd 2012

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Peter Oborne’s article today in the Telegraph is a must-read, titled ‘The Murdoch and News Corporation scandal wasn’t about Conservative Party sleaze – but it is now‘.

The subtitle? ‘David Cameron’s party has positioned itself as the last defender of a collapsing empire’ – ouch!

So what revelations come out of the article?

1. He thinks “the Murdoch scandals” are turning into a “first-class disaster for David Cameron and his party”

2. He says Labour has come out unscathed from the scandal mainly because Cameron and his close circle have “emerged as the main public champions” of News International. How so? Michael Gove: a former News International employee; William Hague: “paid a fortune for writing a News of the World column when the Conservatives were in opposition”

3. He eviscerates the media select committee:

There have long been concerns about the Conservative members of this committee. John Whittingdale, its chairman, has links with News International going back over a number of years. One of his Tory colleagues, Louise Mensch, is an attention-seeker who last year abused parliamentary privilege to make unfounded accusations of illegal conduct involving another newspaper group, thereby widening the scandal beyond News International.

Even if the motives of these MPs were entirely honourable, they have placed the Conservative Party in a wretched place as the chief partner and public supporter of News International.

4. Says Rebekah Brooks’ texts to Cameron could “exceed a dozen a day”.

5. Says politicians can now be divided into two categories: those who bought into the News International culture and methodology, and those who did not.

‘The friends’

Tony Blair, Gordon Brown, Peter Mandelson, David Miliband, David Blunkett, John Reid, Tessa Jowell, Michael Gove, George Osborne, William Hague. David Cameron, John Whittingdale and Jeremy Hunt (as well as Mr Hunt’s brainless sidekick, Ed Vaizey) should also be added to this list.

‘The refuseniks’

Vince Cable, Tom Watson, George Galloway, Iain Duncan Smith, Owen Paterson, Dominic Grieve, Ken Clarke.

He ends by saying: “Mr Miliband, always under-rated as Labour leader, has woken up to this defining story of our age much faster than Mr Cameron and his amoral strategists.”

Peter Oborne certainly likes to stir it up.

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About the author
Sunny Hundal is editor of LC. Also: on Twitter, at Pickled Politics and Guardian CIF.
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Reader comments


Oborne’s main point is also important:- the Tories didn’t have to get themselves into a position where they get caught in the cross-fire of the NI scandal. They chose to employ Mr Coulson and be close friends with Ms Wade. They chose to facilitate greater media domination by NI and plan to shut down OFCOM, when there were aready warning signs of the toxicity of the brand.

Why? Was this part of some bigger strategy? Were there so many other skeletons in the cupboard that Coulson had to be part of the Downing Street team?

Oborne forgot to mention two other notable ‘friends’ and ‘refuseniks’; Boris Johnson and Ken Livingstone, respectively.

Eh. It’s Peter Oborne. It’s just that time in his lithium cycle. Next week he’ll be back to how David Cameron is the greatest Prime Minister since Robert Walpole.

Guano @ 1

Point well made.

It is alleged that Coulson was drawing two salaries whilst in No !0, one paid by News International.
Was he there at Murdoch’s instigation, not Cameron’s invitation?

It would certainly have helped NI and the Tories to avoid all those tedious and traceable emails.

Indeed, Tim, Oborne is full of contradictions. He doesn’t mention that his heroine, Margaret Thatcher, started the tradition of dirty deals with Rupert Murdoch.

However he is correct that the Conservative Party have only themselves to blame for getting too close the NI. If they’d played their cards differently they could be making political capital out of Rupert’s admission about getting policy concessions out of Blair. But they chose to get very close indeed to NI and are paying the price. Why take that risk when the warning signs were already there?

6. margin4error

I partly agree with Tim J about Peter Oborne just being his usual redical flip-flopping self – though I’m not sure I’d go with the medical quip.

But as Guano says – his main point is key. This is a choice the tories have not just made, but are still making daily. Mensch didn’t have to try to distract from NewsInt when she libelled Piers Morgan – but did so because she chose to be on the NewsInt side. Cameron didn’t have to hold back early on and try to cling to Coulson, but he chose to for far too long. The party as a whole doesn’t have to keep backing an institution that is so badly discredited at present but keeps choosing to do so.

And I suspect this says a lot about the Tories at present. They are, as poor general often do, trying to fight old battles in a new war. A key battle for the 2010 election was to offer Murdoch full ownership of BskyB so his papers would support the tories and boost their chances. Trouble is, right now the tories are not fighting the 2010 election – and so keeping murdpch onside it utterly the wrong battle for them.

I also suspect there is a freindship issue here. We have a bit of a mate-ocracy running the country at the moment – with old firm freinds getting on well and running the country and companies all together. In that environment it can become very difficult to then recognise that one of your mates is a terrible liability to you. It is in normal life, so in the bubble of UK politics it is hard to know how a PM would come to recognise that his mate needs sacking off.

The irony in all this is that David Cameron was the PM that Rupert Murdoch personally liked least of anyone since Wilson. Brown was far more on his wavelength, while he thought Cameron was just another posh southern Pom. Blair, of course, gets on famously with the self-made rich – and has become one himself.

8. margin4error

Tim

The fact that he liked Thatcher and Blair and others but didn’t like Cameron at all is a little ironic, since it is Cameron that may now be bought down by being to close with him. But he was offered a clear path to buying out bskyb by Mr Cameron and so had his people (his son, coulson, the redhead, etc) become part of his new circle of freinds to run the country – and that may now be what is mis-guiding the PM and his party over everything that is going on.

Of course normally I’d say this sort of scandal stuff is distraction from what people care about – ie the NHS and the economy – but as it goes, this one has a slightly odd a-poliitcal apsect in that it involves stuff people care about outside of politics – ie kids being murdered by perverts, their sky boxes, and stuff like that.

It’s a weird story all round.

“It’s a distraction from what people care about ….”

Errrr, no. It’s a case that shows how policies for things people care about are influenced by a few people.


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