Posts Tagged ‘phone hacking’

It’s time for Labour to stop hating Rupert Murdoch

22/01/2015, 01:02:27 PM

by Samuel Dale

Labour MPs were cock-a-hoop at the start of the week about the Sun’s decision to quietly stop publishing photographs of topless women on Page 3.

Page 3 is a rather vulgar intrusion on the editorial of a best-selling national newspaper but part of me feels it is free to publish what it likes. However, there is a legitimate debate to be had around the image it projects and campaigners fought and clearly convinced Sun readers, advertisers and editors that it is outdated. Well done.

But then it went wrong as the Sun cheekily re-introduced topless women to its third page today to the dismay of campaigners. Don’t be fooled, this is merely the twitching corpse of a dying and outdated feature. It’s days are numbered.

For many in Labour though Page 3 is a figleaf. The real target of the campaign is the old enemy, Rupert Murdoch and News Corporation, for whom a special hatred is reserved.

Labour has no major campaign against bare breasted women in the Daily Star, for example, it is Murdoch who drives the passion.

The hatred can be irrational such as attacks on Ed Miliband for supporting a Help for Heroes campaign in the Sun for wounded soldiers. Ridiculously, he apologised for it.

After all these years, why does Labour still hate Murdoch and News Corp with such a passion?

Supporting Thatcher. The printworkers’ strike. Buying the Times. Attacking Tony Benn in the 1980s. Media dominance. Billionaire. Hillsborough. Tabloid slurs against LBGTs and mental health issues. Kinnock in 1992. Faustian pact with New Labour. Fox News. Brown in 2009. Phone Hacking.

Yes, there are many reasons for Labour to hate Murdoch but notice one thing about all these events: they are over.


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Miliband: seeing into the future or shouting at the sea?

30/11/2011, 07:30:01 AM

by Rob Marchant

Last Thursday, Ed Miliband was speaking at the IPPR on the economy, doughtily willing that Labour’s alternative can soon be heard again in light of Britain’s increasingly dreadful prospects. In spite of the response of many commentators that here was a battle he couldn’t win, his words indicated that he genuinely believes things are going his way on the economy and that Labour merely needs “one more heave”, as Dan Hodges puts it. He and Ed Balls need only to keep saying the same thing, and the political tectonic plates will have shifted their way by the general election.

Never mind that Labour’s economic polling is awful and has shown little sign of shifting over the last year, in spite of the crisis. Never mind that the Tories have two fairly foolproof deflection strategies for this mess: blame Labour, blame Europe. Team Miliband is convinced that the tide is turning and it is just a matter of time.

Why? It is instructive to examine the psychology behind this. There seem to be two factors at play. One is about the vision thing. There are a few people in any generation – a very few people – who have the extraordinary gift of seeing the future. Not literally, like a soothsayer, but the visionaries: the Steve Jobses or the Thomas Edisons. Or  the political figures who define a generation: the Mandelas, the Luther Kings, the FDRs, the Kennedys. People who see the trend lines in today’s thinking and can extrapolate them out, accurately, into the future, along with a road map. They anticipate, and they get it right. These people are extraordinary (not to mention usually pretty successful in their chosen field).


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Leveson: the celebrity sham-trial

23/11/2011, 08:04:36 AM

by Dan Hodges

This will already be the hundredth article that you have read about her. She began the week as anonymous junior barrister Carine Patry Hoskins. Now she is the woman on the left, the vivacious/doe-eyed/comical (delete as appropriate), star of the Leveson investigation into phone hacking.

The unfortunate Ms Hoskins will no doubt  feature in the film of the book of the judicial inquiry. Indeed, both she and Hugh Grant will probably play themselves. Or if it is directed by David Lynch, each other.

Our brightest students will study her and the interrelationship between the courts, press, politicians and social media. “Monday, 21 November 2011 was the day the Twittersphere began to devour its own. Discuss”.

She will become the subject of debates about the law, feminism, class, love, longing, celebrity, privacy, voyeurism and the wisdom of cameras in the court room. Though I suspect that after yesterday there is about as much  chance of the latter as Ronnie Biggs finding himself called to the bench. “What does the woman on the left tell us about…” headlines are set to assail us from every side.

This is what she tells us. She tells us Leveson is a farce. (more…)

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Two kinds of brave

12/07/2011, 11:30:01 AM

by Rob Marchant

Steve Richards in the Independent – what seems like an age ago but in reality only last Thursday – defended yesterday’s Labour politicians from the easy criticism that they should have acted against Murdoch. Oh how Blair and Brown bowed and scraped, some are saying. Rubbish. They saw the world as it was, and they prioritised getting and maintaining a Labour government over dealing with a longer-term and mostly intractable problem, the risible regulatory framework which exists around the British media. As had all the other governments before them. Perhaps they shouldn’t have: but it is equally plausible to say that the opportunity to take on the empire just didn’t present itself. It has now.

And the game is changing so quickly, hour by hour, that it is safe to say that no-one, on any side of the debate, really knows how it’s going to end. The astonishing thing is that it could really be anything across a very broad spectrum, starting at dirty tricks bringing down a Labour leader or other key protagonists, and finishing at the other end with the fall of a government. For this reason, the British media has gone into headless-chicken mode and is looking on impotently.

Ed Miliband has done a first-class job in playing the hand he has been dealt. His Monday commons performance against Jeremy Hunt, for example, was well-planned and well-executed. Tony Blair said on Friday he has “shown leadership” and he is right.

Where the esteemed Mr Richards’ analysis falls down is in one phrase: “For the first time…Miliband could display authentic anger without fear of retribution from News International.”

So, you think News International is suddenly going to roll over and die after a few bad days in the press? Er, no. Even if the Armageddon scenario for Murdoch – a meltdown of his empire – is a possibility, it is by no means a guaranteed one at this point. (more…)

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Phone-hacking is not the magic bullet

12/07/2011, 07:00:49 AM

by Dan Hodges

It was the Sunny ‘wot won it. “We killed the News of the World!”, screamed Liberal Conspiracy on Thursday afternoon, via a headline, replete with slammer, of which Rebekah Brooks would be proud. “Vindicated – a win for Labour MPs and the left online”, gushed the slightly more restrained Labour List; “Uncovering the catalogue of misdeeds by the paper, and the work in recent days to encourage advertisers to distance themselves from the News of the World, has been nothing short of inspirational”.

Thanks. I’ll find my inspiration elsewhere.

Now that the dust is beginning to settle over the ruins of what, in my unfashionable view, was a once great British newspaper, perhaps it would be a good idea to step back. Actually, screw it, let’s not. Let’s have a quick dance on the rubble before we get another News International title in our sights.

We may not be any good at winning general elections, but boy, are we good at shutting newspapers. Not that we actually wanted to. When we called on advertisers to boycott the paper, and then threatened those that wouldn’t, we didn’t want anyone to lose their jobs. They’re unfairly paying the price for the greed and excess of others, you see. It was Murdoch that closed the News of the World, not us. What do you mean we said we killed it?

Enjoyable though the spectacle of the British establishment eating itself alive may be to some, we are heading in to dangerous waters. And by ‘we’, I mean the Labour party. (more…)

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In praise of… the Guardian

10/07/2011, 05:41:19 PM

by David Talbot

Since early 2008 the Guardian’s daily editorial encomium has praised some 841 men, women, organisations, objects and events. But given the extraordinary proceedings that have marked a seismic week in British journalism, no other entity deserves more praise than the Guardian newspaper itself.

If the paper’s revelations had only concerned lurid journalism it would be disgraceful but not sinister. However, the way that the News of the World, the police, the press complaints commission and some politicians appear to have prevented the exposure of systematic phone-hacking, is a reminder of just how much of a stranglehold the Murdoch empire has over British officialdom. The man is rarely seen, but his presence is always felt. Until now all Conservative and Labour leaders have served a rite of passage to canoodle with the Murdoch apparat with a desperation that demeans them and their office. This political corruption has often been rather more alarming than any duck island, and all together far more destructive.

This is one of the biggest scandals in British public life for decades, but the actions of many a hitherto respected institution has been feeble in the extreme. The Metropolitan police has been disgracefully uncooperative, which yet further highlights their sordid links to the media. Parliament, bar a noble few, so long beguiled by the power of the Murdoch press, has dared not speak out. The prime minister, speaking at the dispatch box on Wednesday, effectively evaded questions as to the complicity of the then News of the World editor Rebekah Brooks in the whole affair. And vast swathes of the British media turned a blind eye, in the knowledge that they too were indulging in the very same practices and fearful lest the forensic focus fall on them and their dealings. (more…)

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Thursday News Review

07/07/2011, 06:56:51 AM

Ed forces Dave into a hole

The atmosphere in the chamber for PMQs today was rather unusual. As the loud chatter silenced for the weekly ritual of honouring the dead, I’m sure I was not the only one wondering if the noise would return. David Cameron is under as much pressure as he ever has been for his relationship with Rebekah Brooks, but how on earth was Ed Miliband supposed to raise it, without sounding like he was making too much political capital out of a scandal? Unusually, Miliband got it about right. He started slowly, noting that the “whole country” would be “appalled” by the “immoral and disgraceful” conduct of the News of the World. He then pressed the PM on the need for an inquiry, noting Mr Cameron’s positive responses respectfully, even in the face of shrieks from a few Labour backbenchers. Cleverly, he tried to cajole David Cameron into a stronger commitment than Cameron evidently wanted – to “start the process now”. Instead of charging in with a chainsaw, Ed made a careful first incision. Then he injected the poison. “The PM must realise that the public will react with disbelief if the deal [for News International to buy BSkyB] goes ahead,” he said, forcing Mr Cameron into a rather technical defence of Jeremy Hunt’s decision making. “This is not the time for technicalities,” shouted Ed. That prompted guffaws from the Tory benches. But Ed was right – it wasn’t, and Cameron was trapped. – Daily Telegraph

David Cameron and Nick Clegg are wrangling over the membership and status of the inquiries that will be held into illegal phone hacking at the News of the World and wider questions about the future of media regulation. The prime minister bowed to pressure to hold at least one inquiry but is resisting calls from Clegg for a judge to take charge. The differences between Clegg and Cameron came as the government faced calls from across the Commons as well as from City shareholders to delay its final decision on the proposed takeover of BSkyB by News Corporation, parent company of the News of the World. Jeremy Hunt, the culture secretary, gave the provisional go-ahead for the deal last Friday, subject to a final seven-day consultation over plans to hive off Sky News as a separately listed company to allay plurality fears. Hunt is due to consider thousands of pages of documents submitted during the consultation. He will then make a decision – which could be delayed into the summer recess – after consultations with Ofcom and the OFT. The Labour leader, Ed Miliband, took the momentous step of turning against Rupert Murdoch‘s empire, calling for the resignation of News International‘s chief executive, Rebekah Brooks, and demanding the BSkyB decision be referred to the Competition Commission. – the Guardian

There were signs of panic in Downing Street last night as the Prime Minister faced mounting pressure from all political parties to block the plans by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation to take full ownership of BSkyB because of the phone hacking scandal engulfing his UK newspaper group. One insider said: “We are looking for a way out on the takeover. But it isn’t easy to find one. The timing is just awful.” A Tory minister said: “David Cameron is well aware of how damaging the issue of the takeover is to him and to the Government. There is real anxiety in No 10.” Some MPs believe there could be discreet contacts between Downing Street and senior News Corp figures urging the company to suspend its bid. Senior Liberal Democrats pressed the Prime Minister and the Culture Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, to limit the damage to the Coalition by derailing News Corp’s bid to buy the 61 per cent of BSkyB it does not already own. Government officials insist Mr Hunt can only block the deal on media plurality grounds. Some ministers hope that media regulator Ofcom will spare their blushes by halting the takeover because the hacking scandal shows News Corp would not be a “fit and proper” owner of BSkyB. – the Independent

Shocking turn as war widows messages were listened to

A phone-hacking scandal engulfing Rupert Murdoch’s media empire grew on Thursday with claims that Britain’s top-selling tabloid may have listened to the voicemail of relatives of soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan. News International, the parent company of the News of the World tabloid, said it would be contacting the Defence Ministry after a report in the Daily Telegraph that the phone numbers of British soldiers were found in the files of a private investigator jailed for hacking phones. “If these allegations are true we are absolutely appalled and horrified,” it said in a statement. Rose Gentle, the mother of fusilier Gordon Gentle, killed by a roadside bomb in Iraq’s oil port of Basra in 2004, told the BBC she was “totally disgusted” by the allegations. “I’d never buy that paper again, if this is true, they need to be brought to justice for this, they need to pay for this,” she said. In a further twist to the affair, a spokesman for Finance Minister George Osborne said police had told the minister his name and home phone number were in notes kept by two people jailed for phone hacking. – Reuters

The Daily Telegraph has learnt that the personal details of the families of servicemen who died on the front line have been found in the files of Glenn Mulcaire, the private detective working for the Sunday tabloid. The disclosure that grieving relatives of war dead were targets for the newspaper prompted anger among military charities, who said it was a “disgusting and indefensible assault on privacy”. The Metropolitan Police is facing growing calls from the families of murder victims, those killed in terrorist attacks and those who died in natural disasters, such as the Indonesian tsunami, to disclose if they were targets. Rebekah Brooks, the former editor of the News of the World and now chief executive of News International, its parent company, faced calls from Ed Miliband, the Labour leader, to step down. Yesterday The Daily Telegraph disclosed that families of victims of the July 7 bombings were targets for Mulcaire in the days after the atrocity in 2005. – Daily Telegraph

A new era of transparency?

Taxpayers are to be given access to information on all aspects of the performance of schools, GPs, hospitals, police, courts and prisons. Ministers will today announce an ‘information revolution’ which they say will make centrally-imposed targets across public services redundant. People will be invited to judge for themselves whether schools or GP surgeries are up to scratch using data currently hidden from scrutiny. In health, information on the prescribing data and comparative clinical outcomes of GP practices will be published from December this year. Details of complaints made against every NHS hospital – so that patients can use the experiences of other patients to judge whether they want to be treated there – will be available from October. From next April, success and failure rates of doctors in treating all major medical conditions will be available, as will data on the quality of their post-graduate medical education. In education, data enabling parents to see how effective their school is at teaching high, average and low attaining pupils across a range of subjects will be published from next January. Anonymised data from the National Pupil Database to help parents and pupils to monitor the performance of their schools in depth will be available from next June. – Daily Mail

Ministers are to publish all spending on government credit cards in order to expose profligacy and waste as part of new plans to reveal swaths of government data showing low-performing schools, GP services and transport services. The Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude will announce plans on Thursday to publish millions of new data items, from prescription rates at specific GP surgeries to how well individual schools are teaching low and high-attaining pupils. It will allow patients to shop around for the surgery most likely to prescribe an expensive drug, or parents to find out which school is best for high achievers or pupils with special educational needs. Ministers want this information about public services to drive competition as people become more informed “consumers” of government-funded services. The publication of the data comes after last year’s spending was released under the Freedom of Information Act, revealing £25m of previously secret spending by Whitehall officials in the year that the government implemented its deficit reduction programme. David Cameron has written to ministers setting out the plans. “We recognise that open data and transparency can be a powerful tool to help reform public services, foster innovation, empower citizens … we also understand that transparency can be a significant driver of economic activity,” he said. “These commitments represent the most ambitious open data agenda of any government in the world.” Maude said: “Information enables choice – which creates competition which drives up standards. The new commitments represent a quantum leap in government transparency and will radically help to drive better public services.” – the Guardian

Well done Tom

Labour MP Tom Watson was named as Commons select committee member of the year at the House magazine awards on Thursday evening. At an awards ceremony in the Robing Room attended by peers, MPs and members of the press gallery, Watson was honoured for using his membership of the culture committee to push for further investigation of the phone hacking allegations. MPs and peers voted for the winners, with the press deciding who would win minister of the year. Watson said he learnt much about select committees when he first entered parliament and served under the chairmanship of Chris Mullin on the home affairs committee. He cited as a “pre-requisite” for effective committee members both an obsessional approach to policy and “an eye for the big picture”. David Davis, presenting the award to Watson, said he is proof that “a select committee member can turn the world upside down”. –

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Wednesday News Review

06/07/2011, 06:42:50 AM

Cameron under pressure to hold investigation

David Cameron was today facing growing pressure to back calls for a public inquiry into the phone hacking scandal. The Prime Minister was urged to act as MPs held an emergency debate on the issue after more alarming claims emerged to the extent of the interception of mobile phone messages. Mr Cameron said the alleged hacking of murdered teenager Milly Dowler’s mobile phone had left him shocked. Mr Cameron said: “On the question of the really appalling allegations about the telephone of Milly Dowler, if they are true, this is a truly dreadful act and a truly dreadful situation. What I have read in the papers is quite, quite shocking, that someone could do this actually knowing the police were trying to find this person and trying to find out what had happened, and we all now know the tragedy that took place.” The News of the World said last night they had passed “significant new information” to police in connection with the hacking investigation. MPs will today hold a debate on whether to launch a public inquiry into the scandal. The row intensified as Labour MP Chris Bryant, 49, yesterday accused the News of the World of “playing God with a family’s emotions”. – Daily Mirror

Ed Miliband has called for Rebekah Brooks, the chief executive of News International, to “consider her position” and called for a public inquiry after it emerged the News of the World hacked into Milly Dowler’s mobile phone while Brooks was editor. It comes after David Cameron described the hacking as a “truly dreadful act” and urged police to “pursue this in the most vigorous way”. Police were due to meet with senior executives from News International on Tuesday morning, according to reports, with Brooks’s role coming under increasing scrutiny. The current News International chief executive has insisted she would not resign. Miliband joined the Labour shadow home secretary, Yvette Cooper, in calling for a public inquiry into the Guardian’s revelations that Milly Dowler‘s mobile phone was repeatedly targeted by the News of the World. The Labour leader said Brooks should “consider her conscience and consider her position”, as pressure mounts on the News International chief executive. Miliband said the latest revelations in the News of the World phone-hacking saga were a “stain” on news reporting in the country. He added that the hacking “represents one of the darkest days in British journalism”. – the Guardian

The revelations followed extraordinary allegations that, months earlier, Milly Dowler’s phone messages were hacked into and deleted by the News of the World, giving her family false hope that she was still alive. All this came on a day when: There was intense speculation that the newspaper might also have eavesdropped on Sara Payne, mother of eight-year-old Sarah, whose murder in 2000 prompted then editor Rebekah Brooks’s controversial campaign for the right to know if a paedophile is living locally; Labour leader Ed Miliband led calls for the resignation of Mrs Brooks, who is now Mr Murdoch’s most senior UK executive; Senior politicians threatened a public inquiry, led by a judge, into press standards and regulation; Pressure grew on Culture Secretary  Jeremy Hunt to block Mr Murdoch’s  bid to take full control of the broadcaster BSkyB; Ford announced it was withdrawing advertising ‘indefinitely’ from the News of the World, while  other leading firms – including Easyjet and Tesco – said they might do the same; Commons Speaker John Bercow granted a highly unusual emergency debate on the affair today; Glenn Mulcaire, the private investigator at the centre of the scandal, issued a public apology but claimed he had been under ‘constant demand for results’ from the News of the World; There were reports that detectives are contacting some of the 52 families of the victims of the July 7 bombings in London in 2005, whose names or phone numbers appeared as part of their enquiries. Journalists may have been seeking to access messages left on phones as family members waited to hear news about their loved ones. – Daily Mail

Ed’s first landslide

The PLP have backed Ed Miliband’s plans to abolish shadow cabinet elections. Turnout was 92.2%, and 83% of the PLP voted in favour of the plans (196 in favour, 41 against and 20 did not vote). Ed Miliband responded, saying: “This is an excellent result for the party. We have an important job to do in holding the government to account and preparing for the next election. To do that job properly we need to spend our time talking to the public and not ourselves. “Labour under my leadership will be a party that looks outwards and not inwards.”Labour List

Ed Miliband won the first round of his battle to modernise Labour’s traditional practices last night when the party’s MPs voted overwhelmingly to allow him to choose his own Shadow Cabinet. Mr Miliband, who has described the elections as a distraction, wants to sharpen up the performance of his top team and ensure they spend less time lobbying for the votes of backbenchers. Last night his proposed reform was approved by a margin of 196 votes to 41. The turnout among Labour MPs was 92 per cent. Mr Miliband said: “This is an excellent result for the party. We have an important job to do in holding the Government to account and preparing for the next election. To do that job properly we need to spend our time talking to the public and not ourselves. Labour under my leadership will be a party that looks outwards and not inwards.” The move needs to be approved by Labour’s National Executive Committee this month and its annual conference in September. After that, Mr Miliband will be free to reshuffle his frontbench team whenever he wants. Although aides played down the prospect of a shake-up immediately after the conference, the Labour leader is expected to reshape his Shadow Cabinet to give fast-track promotions to the “new generation” of MPs he would want to see in his first cabinet if he wins power. – the Independent

Rank hypocrisy over Bombardier contract

Britain’s last train maker slashed 1,429 jobs yesterday – sparking fears the firm could hit the buffers. Troubled Bombardier’s main contracts run out in two years. But the Government last month awarded the £1.4billion Thameslink project to German rival Siemens. Furious MPs and union leaders yesterday called on the Tory-led coalition to reverse the decision in the wake of the job cuts. They argued the contract could keep Bombardier’s 3,000 Derby workers busy for years. Labour’s Derby North MP Chris Williamson said: “This is one U-turn well worth making. The lame excuse Siemens offered better value for money simply won’t wash.” Bob Crow, of the RMT transport union, blasted: “We will fight this stitch-up tooth and nail.” Campaigners are furious after ministers met in Bombardier’s home city of Derby just four months ago and praised it as the best of British manufacturing. The Canadian-owned firm said 446 full-time engineers and 983 temporary staff must go. But it is feared 20,000 jobs in the supply line could be hit. The firm said it would have made lay-offs even if it had won the Thameslink deal to build 1,200 carriages. Transport Secretary Philip Hammond said: “Bombardier has had a fantastic run of success.” – Daily Mirror

Bob Crow may not be to everyone’s taste. The RMT union chief has a fine track record of bringing chaos to commuters. But when he’s not starting a fight, he can also start a debate. Yesterday’s subject? The plight of British manufacturing and whether the Government, for all its “Made in Britain” rhetoric, has anything resembling an industrial policy. A “scandal” was Mr Crow’s pithy assessment of the sobering news from the Canadian train manufacturer Bombardier. It reflected, he claimed, “a policy of industrial vandalism that would wipe out train building in the nation that gave the railways to the world”. Bombardier had just axed 1,400 jobs at its Derby plant after failing to win a contract. Not any contract, either, but one awarded by the British Government to build 1,200 train carriages for the Thameslink commuter service into London. Having assessed the bids, ministers awarded the £1.5 billion prize to a consortium led by Germany’s Siemens. German workers and component manufacturers will now get the work. The upshot is lay-offs at Bombardier, not to mention the wider supply chain – and the risk that Britain’s last remaining train builder could now be heading for the buffers, effectively closing a 200-year-old British industry. Another shipbuilding, perhaps. – Daily Telegraph

Scottish Labour to become a fizzy drink

Scottish Labour is to rebrand itself as the “Irn-Bru of modern politics” with distinctive “made in Scotland” policies that will set it apart from the main UK party, party insiders have revealed. The radical overhaul of the Labour image aims to turn the party into an iconic Scottish brand that will outflank the SNP’s appeal to patriotism. The plans are being considered in a radical review of the party after its devastating defeat at the Scottish elections, led by shadow defence secretary Jim Murphy and MSP Sarah Boyack. In their determination to root the party in Scotland, senior Labour figures have even studied how Scottish products like whisky and Irn-Bru retain a solid Caledonian identity while appealing to a wider market. Their ideas include creating an overall leader for the Scottish Labour Party who will be in charge of MSPs in Edinburgh and Scottish Labour MPs at Westminster for the first time. The Murphy and Boyack review will present its conclusions on reform by the autumn but the first stage of the party overhaul is set to be approved by MSPs and Labour MPs at Westminster this week. It will include a new contract for Labour council candidates in next year’s crucial local government elections, specifying minimum responsibilities for the party and voters. Iain Gray, the current Scottish leader, is under pressure to stay on as a caretaker until full agreement can be reached on a new party structure that will bring Westminster MPs and Holyrood MSPs together into one force. – Daily Record

Nothing indicated the nervous state of the Scottish Labour Party more clearly than its fear that it might lose the Inverclyde by-election. On the face of it, the fear was ridiculous. Unpopular governing parties have sometimes seen comparable majorities melt away at a by-election; opposition ones should have no fear of that. Admittedly, there was a 15 per cent swing to the SNP. So, while Labour feels relief, the SNP can also be happy. So Labour should remember that the wheel turns, the pendulum swings, and that one of the most common of political errors is to suppose that what is happening now will continue to happen and that tomorrow will be just like today. Consequently for Labour the first requirement is to hold its nerve. The party may need to change, but it should think carefully before deciding what changes are needed and not rush to judgment. Iain Gray, savaged by the media, had a poor election, and immediately announced that he would resign the leadership. This was in keeping with what is becoming a convention: that a party leader is allowed only one go. If the SNP had adhered to it, Alex Salmond would have been replaced as leader years ago, perhaps as far back as 1992 when the party’s slogan “Scotland free by ’93” proved so ludicrously wrong. If Labour engages in a Scottishness competition, it is being lured into a trap. The SNP will always win. The only way you can beat the SNP in a Scottishness competition is by becoming more narrowly nationalist, anti-English and anti-European, even racist, denouncing the “social union” that Salmond tells us will survive the end of political union. It would be ridiculous for Labour to take this course. – the Scotsman

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If Rebekah Brooks had any respect for Rupert Murdoch, she would resign this week

12/04/2011, 07:00:13 AM

by Tom Watson

Part of me wants to scoff at the idiocy of the people who are paid staggering amounts of money to represent the interests of Rupert Murdoch. My God they’ve let him down. Then I think of the parents of the Soham kids and remember why the campaign cannot stop. And I think of my own children. My gentle, beautiful boy, frightened by the nasty man at the door during the Damian McBride affair. And I remember my sense of helplessness, when I couldn’t keep him, his mum and sister safe, even in our home. It took me to the brink – but that’s another story.

In the autumn of the media patriarch, Mr Murdoch’s love of his own children is the one touching piece of a drama, played out over years and decades, that has pulverised careers, relationships and lives.

I’ve read with a sense of sympathy how Mr Murdoch’s daughter has been financially endowed after her TV company was purchased by News Corp. James Murdoch, schooled at Harvard but not in life, shipped off to New York before the court at the palace of Wapping disintegrates. This is a father getting his house in order before time takes its inevitable toll on one of the most remarkable figures of the last half century. It’s touching. It’s sad. I admire him for it, but it doesn’t take away the scandal. (more…)

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Joint statement by John Yates and Keir Starmer on phone hacking

11/04/2011, 05:38:20 PM

Joint statement by MPS Acting Deputy Commissioner John Yates and the Director of Public Prosecutions Keir Starmer QC:

There has been a significant amount of interest in recent weeks among the media over understanding of the complex law in respect of phone hacking, particularly in relation to the prosecutions of Goodman and Mulcaire. We have both written to, and appeared before, the relevant Parliamentary Select Committees providing detailed evidence on this matter to give an account of our best understanding of what took place five years ago.

Neither of us had responsibility for this case at the time it was originally prosecuted. We have, therefore, both sought to interpret, as best we can, the original documentation and the recollections of those involved. The relevant information is now in the public domain.

We, and others in our organisations, would now like to focus together on the current investigation, in the same way that we work closely and constructively on a daily basis on numerous other cases and complex issues.


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