Matthew Norman: How to get ahead in hackery...

Diary

There are many compelling reasons to offer up what was known in her most memorable Sun headline to date (on the death of Dr Harold Shipman) as a rousing "Ship, Ship, Hooray" on Rebekah Wade's ascension to become News International's chief executive.

Firstly, its a breakthrough for neo-feminism in general, and for Women In The Media, which she honoured on becoming editor by plugging on with the Page Three girls that she had fought to jettison under her predecessor, in particular. Above even that, it is the ultimate triumph for the power of networking over journalism.

Best of all, it brings a blessed sense of relief to those of us ridden with angst at the prospect that the Murdoch-government axis that has ruled us for 30 years, with a brief break during the Major years, might be coming to an end. From arriving at Elizabeth Murdoch's Christmas party on the arm of then prime minister Tony Blair, via attending Sarah Brown's pyjama party at Chequers, to including David Cameron as well as Gordon among her wedding guests, Rebekah's ungodly talent for charming leaders past, present and future explains her rise better than any unknown commercial acumen.

The Murdoch newspapers' profitability may decline and even vanish, but while they retain the power to finesse government media policy to Sky's advantage, and to open potential revenue streams by undermining the BBC and its grip on the licence fee, there could no one better to sit at the centre of this enchanting web weaving her magic. As an editor, Rebekah has spent six years as a paradigm of bare adequacy. As an operator, she stands entirely alone.

The heir apparent

The first show of betting is in, meanwhile, for the race to replace her. Much has been made of Rebekah's failure to mark her ascension by naming her moose-headed deputy Dominic Mohan, but he remains the clear favourite at 11-8. Sun TV suprema Victoria Newton is next on 4-1, with the Mirror's Richard Wallace and Lady Gaga both looking short priced on 11-2. Top Tory spinner Andy Coulson gets a 15-2 quote "with a run" (he may well be more useful to the company at David Cameron's right hand), although his laissez-faire approach to editing the News of the World (you will recall his absolute ignorance of the six-figure payment to a freelancer to bug royal phones while running the paper) – strikes leading professors of journalism as a stumbling block.

Bunched on 14s are Bizarre editor Gordon Smarm, Linda Lusardi, Kelvin MacKenzie and Sir Lenny Lottery. Myleene Klass is on 18s, with Star editor Dawn Neesom, TV's hardest man Ross Kemp (Ross Wade as was), Tina Weaver, Carol Ann Duffy, lucky cardigan-wearing Sun columnist Fergus Shanahan and Dear Deidre all available on 25s. It's 40-1 bar those.

A Gaunt-like intellect

Even my so-called rival Paddy Power, whose book looks frankly nonsensical (Paul Dacre at 20-1, forsooth), finds no place for Jon Gaunt, but he will always be a favourite with us. Gaunty was on fire on Friday, confining references to his SunTalk radio show to just the three ... one less than the asterices required to bowdlerise "pr**ks" and "ar*e" in a demand for the full publication of BBC freelance salaries to go with executive expenses. Most touching was his confession to failing the 11-plus, despite which he supports the grammar school system.

The pernicious thing about the 11-plus, of course, is the burdening of failures with a misplaced sense of intellectual inadequacy from which some never recover. Thankfully, Gaunty's more resilient than that ("I don't care what you write, you c***," as he put it when calling me following his inclusion of Rolf Harris in his Ten Greatest Brits, "but I'm not having you make out I'm thick"). Others, such as John Prescott, are not.

Aim a few at News, Mark

Speaking of BBC expenses, time for yet another futile plea to Mark Thompson to hoist himself up (why he didn't claim for a new pair of knee pads I've no idea; no one could question the legitimacy of that), and throw a few punches back.

He might, for example, make the tediously obvious point that while he and his chums have claimed a few hundred thousand (if anything, those exes are depressingly tiny), Mr Murdoch has cost us hundreds of millions by avoiding taxes in the most legal of ways. He could suggest that, since even the minuscule amount that News Corp does pay is reduced by off-setting reimbursements to staff against corporation tax, there is a public interest in the publication of the exes claimed by the likes of Rebekah.

He might even commission a documentary examining, in intimate detail, how News Corporation comes to pay a little less tax each year than a mini cab controller in Warrington.

A well-timed departure

Mark's one stroke of luck was that the story was driven off Friday's front pages by Michael Jackson. Out of all the ceaseless coverage of that death, Victoria Derbyshire deserves a word of praise for locating the crux of it so quickly on her splendid BBC Radio 5 live phone-in. At 11am on Friday, some 12 hours after the news broke, Victoria introduced a feature on how to get your money back if you had bought tickets for one of Mr Jackson's gigs.

'Tis but a scratch

As for The Times, its online coverage on Thursday night was barely less impressive. "BREAKING: Jackson 'dies' after suffering heart attack" was the main headline. Below it, and an inch to the right, was "Jackson denies ill health after concerts are delayed". Ah well, one out of two ain't bad. Although once Rebekah takes charge, it may not be quite good enough.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
people
News
A survey carried out by Sainsbury's Finance found 20% of new university students have never washed their own clothes, while 14% cannot even boil an egg
science...and the results are not as pointless as that sounds
News
politicsIs David Cameron trying to prove he's down with the kids?
News
Dominique Alderweireld, also known as Dodo de Saumure, is the owner of a string of brothels in Belgium
newsPhilip Sweeney gets the inside track on France's trial of the year
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
News
Cumberbatch was speaking on US television when he made the comment (Getty)
people
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Tom DeLonge, Travis Barker and Mark Hoppus of Blink-182 pictured in 2011.
musicBassist Mark Hoppus and drummer Travis Barker say Tom Delonge is 'disrespectful and ungrateful'
Sport
football
Arts and Entertainment
Olivia Colman and David Tennant star in 'Broadchurch'
tvBroadchurch series 2, episode 4, review - contains spoilers
Sport
cyclingDisgraced cycling star says people will soon forgive his actions
News
Britain's Prince Philip attends a Garden Party at Buckingham Palace in London
people
Arts and Entertainment
Ed Sheeran will play three sell-out gigs at Wembley Stadium in July
music
News
i100
News
Lena Dunham posing for an official portrait at Sundance 2015
people
Arts and Entertainment
Under the skin: Sarah Kane in May 1998
theatreThe story behind a new season of Sarah Kane plays
Arts and Entertainment
Preening: Johnny Depp in 'Mortdecai'
filmMortdecai becomes actor's fifth consecutive box office bomb
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Ashdown Group: Analyst Programmer (Filemaker Pro/ SQL) - Global Media firm

£50000 per annum + 26 days, pension, private medical : Ashdown Group: A highly...

Ashdown Group: (PHP / Python) - Global Media firm - London

£50000 per annum + 26 days holiday,pension: Ashdown Group: A highly successful...

Sauce Recruitment: Financial Accountant -Home Entertainment

£200 - £250 per day: Sauce Recruitment: 6 month contract (Initially)A global e...

Sauce Recruitment: Financial Accountant -Home Entertainment

£200 - £250 per day: Sauce Recruitment: 6 month contract (Initially)A global e...

Day In a Page

Woman who was sent to three Nazi death camps describes how she escaped the gas chamber

Auschwitz liberation 70th anniversary

Woman sent to three Nazi death camps describes surviving gas chamber
DSK, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel

The inside track on France's trial of the year

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel:
As provocative now as they ever were

Sarah Kane season

Why her plays are as provocative now as when they were written
Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of a killing in Iraq 11 years ago

Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of another killing

Japanese mood was against what was seen as irresponsible trips to a vicious war zone
Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea