“A week is a long time in politics” is a saying attributed to former Labour PM Harold Wilson, who left 10 Downing Street for the last time in 1976. Things moved a little slower in his day: now, with on-line access to news and information, it takes rather less than a week for the tectonic plates of political life to shift sufficiently to redefine the landscape.
Since the decision to close the Screws, apparently by Murdoch Junior, the runaway train that is Phonehackgate has sped on down the track, out of anyone’s control, with revelations coming from the New York Times that Rupe’s troops were on occasion into a little phone “pinging”, that is, getting their contacts at the Police to find out the location of their targets from their mobile phone signals.
This, however, was not the cheapest dish on the Murdoch menu, coming in at around £300 a shot. The go-to man in the newsroom for this tasty tapa was former news editor Greg Miskiw. That will take more than a little explaining away when one or more of Rupe, Junior and their twinkle-toed yet domestically combative CEO Rebekah Brooks appear before the Commons culture committee next Tuesday.
As if that isn’t serious enough, Yates of the Yard, who appeared before the committee today, told that he was 99% certain his own mobile had been hacked. Nick Davies has suggested that Ian Blair is on Glenn Mulcaire’s list of 4,000 – of which only 187 have so far been contacted. So there’s going to be no let-up in that particular stream of revelations.
Also, following yesterday’s story of Pa Broon finding his younger son’s medical history somehow leaked to the Sun, comes his assertion that known criminals were involved in the exercise. Who might they be? Well, there’s Glenn Mulcaire, Jonathan Rees, and Rees’ pal Sid Fillery, for starters. Rupe’s troops will have to fight the developing fire on that front, too.
And then to put the lid on the Murdoch affair, it has now been reported that the Tories are to support tomorrow’s Labour motion in the Commons – the one that says it is in the public’s interest for News Corp to withdraw its bid for the part of BSkyB it does not already own.
That has all happened in less than 48 hours. That’s some delivery from a non-story. And there’s going to be more – a lot more – emerging in the next 48. Like the future of the remaining UK Murdoch papers. I’ll look at that tomorrow.