Editorial: Neither Coulson nor Cameron is the real story

Andy Coulson has now resigned from two massive jobs for something he says he knew nothing about.

On 23 November, Tom Watson predicted on Uncut that Andy Coulson would resign “within the next few weeks”. In the end, it was eight weeks. They moved the date back in response to Watson’s article.

On 12 January, Watson revealed on Uncut that the working date within Downing Street for Coulson’s departure was now 25 January. He has resigned on 21 January. The opportunity of a Friday combining Blair at the Chilcot enquiry with the aftermath of the Johnson resignation all but obliged them to bring it forward by the width of a weekend.

And Rupert Murdoch is due to be in London next week. He is sick of the scandal swirling more and more distastefully around his (distasteful) family business. He believes that it has been mishandled by his minions. Did he send word that the Coulson embarrassment (the only easy bit to fix) should be cleared up before he arrives?

Many people – including the prime minister’s official spokesman, on the record – dismissed Tom Watson’s intelligence as rubbish. It was not. Watson was telling the truth; Cameron and his people were brazenly lying.

Coulson’s official spokesman, Nick Robinson of the BBC, has said – as has most of the rest of the Lobby – that the worst damage this will do David Cameron is to deprive him of Andy Coulson’s expertise.

That is the line they have been spun, and they are gratefully repeating it as usual.

Sad and shameful though it is, for once, the line is largely true.

In first appointing then clinging on to Coulson for four years, Cameron has shown breathtaking arrogance even more than terrible judgement. Ultimately, these fatal flaws in his character will catch up with him.

But he will largely escape the particular backwash of the News International scandal. Unless he gets dragged into in the ongoing cover-up.

This is not really David Cameron’s scandal.

Only in passing, indeed, is Andy Coulson the point.

Cameron is like the rakish toff who gets a minor thrill from mixing with criminals. Like the millionaire PR man who quite likes visiting a council flat to buy his drugs. But when the dodgy guy goes down, the toff slips quietly away.

Whereas Coulson is just a celebrity bit part player in a more sinister scene. The nightclub singer who marries the gangster’s daughter.

The big questions about the News Corp scandal should be aimed at Rebekah Brooks and Rupert and James Murdoch. They are the people in power. It is they who should be held to account. The likes of Coulson and Cameron just work for them.

The phone hacking scandal is the outer shadow of a dark cancer on our democracy. There has been crime and wrongdoing on a massive scale. The prosecuted phone hacking cases don’t begin to hint at the depth and scope of what has been done and who knew. There must now be an open publication and public examination of the full Mulcaire evidence.

With a few honourable exceptions, the media and the police have conspired – over and over again – to ignore this scandal.

The lesson of the Coulson resignation is that it will not go away.

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7 Responses to “Editorial: Neither Coulson nor Cameron is the real story”

  1. CarsmileSteve says:

    Oh come on, Tom Watson predicts a *lot* of things, he’s bound to get lucky every now and again. That’s different from “telling the truth”/not telling the truth…

    And the swivel-eyed Rupert Murdoch Is A Twelve Foot Lizard stuff doesn’t really become you either. He’s just another capitalist. The phone-tapping cover-up, though scandalous, was only looking for gossip to sell papers, it’s not like any of these people were being gunned down/locked up because of what was being taped.

  2. Julie says:

    The media coverage of this story has been disappointing. It’s only thanks to Uncut, the Guardian and Indie and a few others who have kept this story going that we’re finally finding out how deep it goes. Yes – people haven’t been shot. But you don’t have to shoot people with guns in order to ruin their lives – most of us wouldn’t cope long if News International waged a harassment war against us and our families. Everyone is meant to have a right to a private family life – whether you’re a member of the royal family, sportsperson, actor, politician. Is there anyone alive who’d be happy for every phone call, text or email they’ve ever sent or received to be in the public domain?

    And it goes further than an advisor to David Cameron. There’s no way Murdoch didn’t know that his staff were regularly tapping celebrities and politicians. And we’re just about to let him control nearly all the media in this country, actually just remove the word ‘media’: we’re about to let him control the country, after the decision being conveniently taken out of Vince Cable’s hands.

    We should all be worried about News International’s invasion of privacy – it will affect everyone one of us.

  3. Mike Thomas says:

    Well, he didn’t sex up a PhD thesis he’d plagiarized as a pretext to British involvement in 500,000 Iraqi deaths and almost 1,000 British soldiers nor did he invent stories about the Shadow Chancellor’s wife having clap and other such disgusting fabrications.

    No evidence has been presented, no charged forthcoming, no case to answer.

    It’s a bit rich to see a red faced Tom Watson bang on about transparency in No.10 considering his past.

    Tom Watson predicted an election too.

  4. Will says:

    The claims in this about repeating lines of spin, sad and shameful, breathtaking arrogance, terrible judgement and fatal flaws of character could all have been taken straight out of the Blair/ Brown years.
    Except, as someone else has pointed out, they took us to war on lies, hounded innocent civil servants to their deaths and tried to use malicious falsehoods as a way of gaining political advantage.
    For his role in the above Watson is a miserable pipsqueak of a man, to borrow a phrase.

  5. Common Sense says:

    OK, so we want the truth, do we? Fine.

    The idea that phone hacking is a Rupert Murdoch crime is absurd. It was/is an industry-wide phenomenon. Do you think MGM titles like the Mirror and the People weren’t at it? Do you imagine the Mail and the Express didn’t participate? And do you really, truly believe that the Guardian and Observer were places where such practices never took place? Dream on..

    If Murdoch is to be indicted, then he’ll have plenty of company – including some of YOUR friends.

  6. oliver says:

    @CarsmileSteve: “He’s just another capitalist”? There aren’t many in the same paradigm as Murdoch. He, and his empire, are fairly unique. How many other media moguls have the same spurious relationship to governments in this country, or other countries, for that matter?

  7. Fat Bloke on Tour says:

    I think you can take credit with the article due to the response from the right wing mentalist, GIB’by astroturfers.

    You are right the story is not Coulson, it is not Dave the Rave it is Murdoch and the way he has worked his influence over the past 20 years starting with all the dodgy messages from the PoW to his then bit on the side.

    One point the astroturfers do make that has validity is the way the press uses unconventional methods to get information. Nice little earner to the people involved but the cost is cheap to the press as it keeps their hands clean and allows then to appear holier than thou.

    However back to the main point, the NI version of MI5 that has developed over the years using the mobile phone as its principle method of operation. Others may have been involved in this area but I think we have to recognise that they were the “Daddy” at this kind of thing.

    Consequently “Daddy” Murdoch should be in the firing line as well as all his little helpers and minions, he worked his influence around the damage that his little intelligence operation could choose to inflict on those he decided were enemies of his business strategy.

    One organisation that may have more to lose and more to answer over the whole affair is the Met.

    It is one thing for a visibly ageing business tycoon to try and give it one last shot, to leave a legacy that his children will not have to spend their lives apologising for, it is quite another for an agency of the state to act in a manner that so nakedly tries to bolster that tycoon and his business practices.

    I mean what more could they have done, arrested Ofcom or kettled the Competition Commision?

    Murdoch is not the only one with questions to answer, the Met should be in the spotlight because it has more at stake.

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