Diary: Mark Oaten emerges as Rupert Murdoch's unlikely ally


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The Independent Online

Mark Oaten has more reason than most people to resent journalists who work for Rupert Murdoch.

He used to be a successful Liberal Democrat MP, the party's shadow Home Secretary, and would probably be a Cabinet minister now but for a sensational tabloid exposé of his private habits, which forced him out of politics altogether.

Yet, surprisingly, he has added his voice to those who are warning that the Leveson Inquiry could turn into a threat to the free press.

"It's right that criminal investigations take place, but as a Liberal I am by instinct nervous at any steps to prevent press freedoms.

"Hacking is wrong but is not an excuse for the political establishment to settle scores with the media," he wrote, on the Liberal democrat Voice website.

"But does my experience and that of the other victims mean we should control the press? I think the current police and legal cases suggest not. People have gone, and will go, to jail.

"The controls are now in place and journalists should be given another chance. We want them to challenge the establishment, inform us about those who govern us and expose the guilty. All we simply ask is that they do it within, not outside of, the bounds of the law."

Oops, the Baroness did it again...

Jenny Tonge might also have been a government minister if Nick Clegg had not sacked her from the Liberal Democrat front bench shortly before the general election for suggesting that Israeli soldiers working in earthquake-stricken Haiti could have been trafficking human organs.

It was her second sacking. The first was in 2004, when she said that if she were a Palestinian, she might be a suicide bomber.

Yesterday the 71-year-old baroness would have chalked up a third, if she had a position to be sacked from.

Addressing a meeting at Middlesex University – parts of which were recorded and posted on the Guido Fawkes and Commentator websites – she said: "Beware Israel. Israel is not going to be there for ever, because one day the USA will get sick of giving £70bn a year to Israel to support what I call America's aircraft carrier in the East.

"One day the US people are going to say to the Israel lobby 'Enough is enough'. It will not go on for ever. Israel will lose its support, then they will reap what they have sown."

Ed Miliband was one of many who responded.

He said that there was "no place in politics for those who question the existence of the state of Israel."

Last night, Baroness Tonge was told by Nick Clegg's office to apologise, which she has refused to do, and she resigned the Lib Dem whip before Nick Clegg could take it away. She is still, of course, a peer, for life.

Some things are worse than a bore

Michael Winner, who styles himself on his Twitter feed as "a totally insane film director", was churning out tweets at a rate of almost one a minute yesterday, without too much regard for the risk of causing offence.

After blocking a number of other tweeters on the grounds that they were boring and that "boredom is the worst sin of all", he expanded on the theme that anything is better than a bore.

"These boring comedians now could learn from Bernard Manning, racist but boy was he funny," he opined. A few minutes later, he added: "So-called racist humouor (sic) is just an ability to larf at outherpeople's (sic) foibles, so what." And later: "I paid manning 2 perform at friends party, gave him glowing intro. His first words: Michael Winner the most hated Jew in Europe. Brilliant."

Jenny Tonge would have falling about laughing.

The Modfather takes on Mozart

That old Modfather, Paul Weller, has told MOJO magazine that now he is middle-aged and sober, he misses those silly drunken conversations of his youth, such as one he remembers having with his bassist, Andy Lewis.

"I was moaning about classical musicians calling their compositions, y' know, 'Opus 5' or whatever. And Lewis is going, 'Well, that's because Mozart wrote over 400 tunes.' I was going, 'That's no excuse. It's just fucking laziness. I've written more than that, and I've given them all titles'."