A fairly common attribute in those who believe they were born to rule is a rather petulant irritation whenever anyone dares to challenge them, or asks them questions they don’t like.
David Cameron has that streak in him and it came out yesterday when Alan Johnson raised questions about the growing stench surrounding the News of the World phone-hacking scandal – not just the behaviour of fhe paper, then edited by Cameron’s communications director Andy Coulson, but also the role of the police.
Johnson made serious points that deserved to be taken seriously. When they were put to Cameron, the PM responded with a reference to a photo in a newspaper of the shadow chancellor drinking a glass of pink champagne at a lunch.
So here is what the PM had to say … ‘Probably be said this over a long lunch, I don’t know if he was asking the question after one bottle of claret or two, or was it pink champagne? When he answers that I will come back to him.’
In other words, don’t dare ask me questions i don’t want to be asked. And by the way what right does a working class oil like Johnson have to drink champers? That should be left to us Bullingdon types.
There are several reasons why this story will not go away. First because journalists find it so hard to believe that an editor would be so ignorant about where stories came from. Second because the truth is being dragged kicking and screaming by a few individuals refusing to be fobbed off or bought off, and every fresh revelation brings further difficult questions for Scotland Yard.
What a contrast between the seal shown by Yates of the Yard in the so-called cash for honours investigation, and the way this case has been handled.
I tend to agree with those who say that trust in the Met’s ability to handle this. They are appearing more and more like a vested interest, less like an independent investigative authority seeking after truth.
The other reason is the proximity to the government decision on News Corp’s efforts to take full control of BkyB. When Vince Cable’s ability to handle that without fear or favour was questioed, he was immediately stripped of that responsibility. We appear to have reached a similar position with regard to the Met. They have clearly not done the job properly so far. So another force should be asked take over, and include the role of the police, and their relations with media organisations, in its remit
Cameron may think he can laugh this off with a lame joke about Alan Johnson. But he can’t, and the more he tries to, the longer these questions will linger. Everyone involved in this – News, The Met and Number 10 – would do well to get everything out in the open. Because it has the feel of a story that one day will be told in full.