Matthew Norman's Diary: Murdoch inquiry could clinch Labour leadership for David Miliband
Monday 13 September 2010
With a YouGov poll showing the Milibandroid race too close to call and the odds shortening against Forrest Gump, as Little Ed is now known by David's campaign, we are reminded that with elections you never know what you're gonna get.
Happily for David there is a way to neutralise the dangerous perception that he is too attached to his mentor, Mr Tony Blair. He should announce that his first step as leader would be instituting an inquiry into New Labour's relationship with the Murdoch empire. While attacking the Tories over Andy Coulson is justified, he might say, a little light phone-hacking seems trifling next to allowing Rupert dominion over British policy on Europe.
What, he might ask, was Mr Tony thinking when he arrived at a Christmas party at Elisabeth Murdoch's house on the arm of Rebekah Wade (Brooks, as is)? Why was David Blunkett drinking with Rebekah in the hours between his second cabinet sacking and her arrest after then husband Ross Kemp, TV's Hardest Man, summoned the Battersea law? How precisely did The Sun come by a leaked copy of the Hutton report, and why does so respected a critic of journalistic ethics as Alastair Campbell derive an income from News International?
No administration in history yielded to Rupert so pliantly, he could add, nor suffered worse from the STD that must ensue on emerging from the Murdoch bed. The important thing, he should conclude, is to learn the lesson and ensure that Labour never strikes such a venereal Faustian pact again. That might swing it.
* In further encouragement for Mili Snr, he has earned the crucial endorsement of that same Ross Kemp. Writing in the David-supporting Daily Mirror, Ross raided his storehouse of searingly originally political thought to depict him as "a leader who cares about everybody, not just the few". Is it too late for Ross to resurrect the parliamentary ambition he put on hold to cohort with the drug lords of Latin America on behalf of Mr Murdoch's Sky One?
* Should you bump into Mirror political supremo Kevin Maguire, by the way, in either a professional or purely private capacity, don't tell him that David M is the only candidate not rigidly opposed to the spending cuts against which the Mirror so stridently campaigns. Ignorance is bliss.
* As for Ed Balls, he may wish to build on yesterday's Independent on Sunday interview, in which he auditioned for the newly formed anarchist band Chumporwanka?, by pouring a jug of iced water over John Prescott. "Nothing David Cameron can ever say to me would knock me down," insisted Labour's Danbert Nobacon, still singing the public-spending songs that remind him of the better times. "There is nothing the Daily Mail could do to me which could ever knock me down." Defiant stuff. Now come on, everybody, join in. "He drinks a whisky drink, he drinks a vodka drink ..."
* Returning to L'Affair Coulson, I am irked by spiteful allegations that John Whittingdale, Tory chairman of the Media Select Committee, warned colleagues to lay off the Murdoch cabal for fear of having their private lives examined. The portrayal of John as a News International placeman is shameful. His committee investigated phone-hacking with no less rigour than that equally ferocious overseer, the Press Complaints Commission. What else would you expect from a body led by John, who, when once asked which media figure he most admires, replied "Rupert Murdoch"?
* One of the Labour committee members who slurred John, the Labour MP Chris Bryant, had a lively week. His Coulsonian exchange with Kay Burley, the Barbara Walters of Sky News, has become quite a YouTube hit, and no wonder. "Don't lie, madam," was a peach (madam, forsooth!), although the observation "You seem to be a bit dim" was wide of the mark. It was of course Kay who informed viewers, nine years and two days ago, that "the entire eastern seaboard of the United States has been decimated by terrorist attack". Retaliate against aggressive interviewers by all means, Chris, but never stray into the absurd. After all, as Ed Miligump would be the first to agree, stoopid is as stoopid does.
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