Today an opportunity arose for David Cameron’s opponents to make the PM suffer over the phone hacking scandal, and his association with some of the main pantomime villains. The problem, again, is that Miliband has failed to make anything stick. His main line of criticism has been that hiring Andy Coulson, who has been arrested for his part in the fiasco, was a “catastrophic error of judgement”.
Maybe so, but it’s been all too easy for Cameron to deflect this barb by saying he sought assurances about Coulson’s involvement before giving him a second chance after this resignation from the News of the World. The leader of the opposition cannot realistically expect to claim any kind of moral high ground when it was his party that brushed this scandal under the carpet a few years ago. Indeed, as Cameron pointed out today, Murdoch can be quoted as saying the politician he was closest to was Gordon Brown… to whom Red Ed was an advisor when he worked in the Treasury!
It is also worth sparing a word to highlight just how embarrassing the questioning of James and Rupert Murdoch by yesterday’s Parliamentary Committee was. Firstly, the line of enquiry itself was toe-curlingly granular for two such high level executives. To ask them questions about the procedure a middle manger would need to follow in order to authorise small payments was either naïve or very hopeful. In that regard, it was a disappointing show from our elected representatives, reminiscent perhaps of the grilling Tony Hayward received over the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico (but far more petty). Of course, the Metropolitan police then further covered themselves in glory by allowing a lunatic with a plate full of shaving cream past their security cordon. It is embarrassing enough that a member of the British public would think to attack Rupert Murdoch whilst facing interrogation… that our embattled police couldn’t prevent it is the icing on the cake.