The morning after the Dispatches programme (Tabloids, Tories and Telephone Hacking), what if anything has changed? Well, that would depend on who is asked. Rupe’s troops will still be claiming that no new evidence has been presented, Young Dave and his jolly good chaps will hold to that line while hoping the fuss will die down, but anyone outside those two bubbles may be starting to get the point as never before.
Because Peter Oborne’s presentation put Phonehackgate in context: the unacceptably close relationship between the Murdoch press and the party in Government, the equally unacceptably close relationship between that same press and the Metropolitan Police, and elected politicians and their electorate cowed before an unelected, interfering foreigner and his hangers on.
And that isn’t good enough. The idea that the Fourth Estate should be able to eavesdrop with impunity, in the style of a Soviet-Era intelligence service, and then bully its servants and victims into keeping schtum, should have no place in any free and democratic society. Yet this is, more or less, what the Murdoch empire has done over Phonehackgate.
Moreover, the closeness to Rupe and his troops is not confined to any one political party: during the Blair premiership, those closest to Tone would always be asking themselves what the reaction of the Murdoch press would be to any new legislation. With the change of Government, we have Young Dave employing Andy Coulson, one of the Murdoch “family”, apparently to win over Rupe to his cause.
Nevertheless, with each new revelation, the impression is given that the lid is being prised slowly but inexorably off an unpleasantly large can of worms. The line of politicians, slebs and hangers on queuing up to be paid off by News International as a result of having their mobiles hacked merely reinforces that feeling. And in that queue is one individual who Rupe and his troops will not want to see there.
Because, on last night’s Dispatches, former MP George Galloway asserted that he did not need the money, and was therefore not interested in being paid off. His purpose in starting action against the Murdoch empire is to ensure that the case goes to court, something which thus far Rupe and his troops have been clearly reluctant to allow.
The saga of Phonehackgate rolls on. It has yet to reach its conclusion, but it will get there, whatever obstruction or intimidation is put in its way. Once the lid comes off this can of worms, there will be no putting it back.