With impeccable timing following my observation yesterday on his steaming contribution to the Phonehackgate debate, the Maily Telegraph’s resident collector of “chicken feed” (and occasional London Mayor) Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson has broken his silence on the affair, with a suitably shoddily researched missive in which Bozza also gets his timeline badly wrong – or right, depending on your political affiliation.
Beano Boris, his tone now a far cry from last year’s dismissive “codswallop”, attempts at the outset to play it for laughs, but to be suckered by the buffoonery misses the serious stuff: Bozza is softening his audience up, so that they might more readily swallow the more serious guff he has lined up.
Because the main thrust of this latest pile of bullpucky is that the whole affair shows what a bunch of hypocrites those ghastly Labour chaps are. Sadly, this contention does not survive a cursory examination of the timeline. Johnson suggests that hacking of ministers’ phones was well known back in 2006 (and that Labour MPs kept schtum in order to keep Rupe on side) but at the time it was not: the main event was the Royals, with everyone else merely “possibles”.
Moreover, there was a police investigation under way, and it was clearly left to get on with it. The jailing of Glenn Mulcaire and Clive Goodman in 2007, and the “one rogue reporter” defence of the Screws, put a (temporary) end to matters. The suggestion that the Met might be dragging their feet only came in mid-2009, when the Guardian returned to the story.
And by that time the Murdoch press were clearly no longer happy to support Labour: less than three months after Nick Davies’ new revelations, the Super Soaraway Currant Bun splashed its “Labour’s Lost It” front page. So when Bozza tells that “This phone hacking malarkey was exposed in 2006”, it was, but the realisation of how widespread the practice had become did not follow until much later.
Bozza does make one good point, though: there may have been other papers involved in less than totally legal information gathering practices. And that’s why the police investigation, which has at last woken up, should be allowed to continue, with the cooperation of all parties – and that includes political parties.It’s just a pity that he spoils his Monday morning knockabout with another lame attempt to deflect attention, but at least he’s consistent: it was Labour’s fault last year, and for Bozza, it’s still Labour’s fault.