Stephen Glover: Does Cameron dare to disappoint Murdoch?

Media Studies: Either accepting or rejecting the bid would have uncomfortable consequences for Mr Cameron

The most interesting question arising from Andy Coulson's resignation is whether it puts the Prime Minister in a better place. Some commentators say it does. One or two have even speculated that David Cameron was happy to see his spin doctor go because he was generating so much unfavourable publicity for No 10.

I doubt he was happy, and I'd say Mr Coulson's departure changes very little. It will have no effect on rampant media speculation that he knew phone hacking was taking place when he was editor of the News of the World – a suggestion he has vehemently denied.

If anything, the Crown Prosecution Service, which is looking at Metropolitan Police files, may feel less impeded if it tries to construct a case against Mr Coulson now that he is no longer one of the most important figures in the coalition.

If Mr Coulson did end up in court, and were to be convicted, the uproar against Mr Cameron would know no bounds. He would be vilified for having nurtured a criminal at the heart of government. His judgement would be seriously impugned. If, on the other hand, no charges are ever brought against the spin doctor – not an unlikely outcome, I should have thought – Mr Coulson will cease to be a potentially lethal threat to the Prime Minister.

Yet Mr Cameron would still by no means be out of the woods since there is the controversial matter of Rupert Murdoch's bid for the 61 per cent of BSkyB that he does not already own.

Readers may be aware that I don't believe that the future of Western civilisation hangs on this deal, but it can't be denied that with every passing day it becomes a more toxic issue. Some have suggested Mr Murdoch brought pressure on the spin doctor to resign, in the belief that his removal would ease the passage of the bid. If so, he may have miscalculated.

So powerful is the tide against the bid, and so encompassing – ranging from The Guardian to the BBC to the Telegraph Media Group to the Daily Mail – that it is increasingly hard to see how Jeremy Hunt, the Culture Secretary, can fail to block it. Friends and foes alike will be outraged if he doesn't. All Mr Cameron's political interests would seem to lie in making sure Mr Murdoch does not get his way.

And yet, of course, the media mogul – who is in London this week, and will presumably meet the Prime Minister – is looking towards his payday. He never much liked young Cameron, but was persuaded by his son James and Rebekah Brooks that he was the coming man, and could see with his own eyes the disintegration of New Labour under Gordon Brown – a leader he had genuinely admired. In switching his support to the Tories at the end of September 2009, he will have expected a favour to be returned. Can Mr Cameron risk disappointing him?

In the circumstances, the answer is probably "Yes". The Prime Minister is boxed in. Either accepting or rejecting the bid would have uncomfortable consequences for him. I don't suggest that telling Mr Murdoch he can't deliver this time would lead the media mogul to swing the power of the The Sun behind Labour, but it would be an unusual experience for the tycoon to be rebuffed by a man who so assiduously paid court to him.

Looking back, it is clear that in this spirited courtship Mr Cameron went further than he should have, or needed to. The appointment of Mr Coulson, who as a former senior Murdoch executive had many contacts within the empire, was partly intended to smooth the path to the great man's table.

The Tory leader also befriended Rebekah Brooks – then editor of The Sun, later chief executive of News International, the company that controls Mr Murdoch's British newspapers. And he became very chummy with the PR king Matthew Freud, Rupert's son-in-law.

The moment of crowning glorycame in August 2008, when Mr Freud flew Mr Cameron to the Mediterranean in his private jet, first to have drinks on Mr Murdoch's yacht, and then dinner on his own. A mere eight months previously the Tory leader had been virtually snubbed by Mr Murdoch at the World Economic Forum in Davos.

The joke is that when The Sun began to root madly for Mr Cameron it did not deliver him the electoral victory he craved. Meanwhile the Daily Mail and Daily Telegraph were less enthusiastically supportive than he might have hoped. If he made a Faustian pact with Rupert Murdoch, Mr Cameron did not get much of a bargain. What he did not foresee was that, after ditching New Labour, Mr Murdoch would again become a lightning rod for so many swirling hatreds.

Mr Coulson's resignation is only the end of chapter one. If David Cameron is going to navigate himself to theend of this saga, he must hope hisformer spin doctor does not end up in a court or law, and must steel himself to let down the most powerful media proprietor in the world. That isn'tgoing to be easy..







Let criminal justice take its course



After Chris Jefferies was arrested for the murder of Jo Yeates the media, often led by the BBC, tried and convicted him. Mr Jefferies was presented as a deviant, though it seems he was merely an eccentric English teacher. "Weird, Posh, Lewd, Creepy" was The Sun's verdict. Will it now apologise?

I wonder whether we will see a repeat performance following the arrest and charging of Dutch architectural engineer Vincent Tabak. Yesterday's Mail on Sunday carried precise details of his alleged movements on the morning after the murder took place. I have no idea whether he is guilty, but I hope that Mr Tabak is not tried before his trial begins.

s.glover@independent.co.uk

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Life and Style
life
Arts and Entertainment
Cold case: Aaron McCusker and Christopher Eccleston in ‘Fortitude’
tvReview: Sky Atlantic's ambitious new series Fortitude has begun with a feature-length special
Voices
Three people wearing masks depicting Ed Miliband, David Cameron and Nick Clegg
voicesPolitics is in the gutter – but there is an alternative, says Nigel Farage
Voices
The veterans Mark Hayward, Hugh Thompson and Sean Staines (back) with Grayson Perry (front left) and Evgeny Lebedev
charity appealMaverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
News
i100
News
people
Sport
Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho
footballThe more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Life and Style
Vote green: Benoit Berenger at The Duke of Cambridge in London's Islington
food + drinkBanishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turn over a new leaf
News
Joel Grey (left) poses next to a poster featuring his character in the film
peopleActor Joel Grey comes out at 82
News
i100
News
business
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

Recruitment Genius: Senior Digital Project Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This established Digital Agency based in East ...

Guru Careers: Sales Director / Business Development Manager

£35 - 45K + COMMISSION (NEG): Guru Careers: A Sales Director / Business Develo...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager - Manchester - Urgent Requirement!

£30000 - £35000 per annum + 20 days holidays & pension: Ashdown Group: Marketi...

Sauce Recruitment: Senior Management Accountant

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Sauce Recruitment: Working for a independently owne...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee