With my usual thanks to the Labour Party media monitoring department for their excellent summary of the press, a few points before I settle down to a cup of coffee in front of Ed Miliband on Andrew Marr.
First, to anyone who thinks David Cameron and (most of) the Tories still don’t get it, take a look at Matthew d’Ancona’s column in the Sunday Telegraph. ‘Those around Cameron insist that he is now making the running and that – given the generally favourable press the PM enjoys – he has a lot more to lose than EM by proposing tougher regulation of the media.’
In other words, as ever, his judgements are tactical rather than principled or strategic. His judgement on what system of regulation should replace the discredited PCC (still no Paul Dacre declaration of interest about his senior position there in articles attacking its abolition by the way) is being driven by what he perceives to be his own interest, not the public interest. It is because Ed has spoken up for the public interest this week that he has broken through so well on this.
Second, regarding Mr Cameron’s judgement, it seems he relied on a character assessment from Rupert Murdoch, and an assurance that nothing bad would emerge, to support his decision to hire Andy Coulson. That was naive. It is now clear that Cameron and George Osborne (who has gone to ground despite this being in large part his responsibility) were so keen to hire Coulson they heard only what they wanted to hear. They did not make the inquiries they should have made. That shows poor judgement.It explains why so many Tory MPs are beginning to doubt his leadership. They are also beginning to worry that ‘the Chipping Norton set’ is going to become even more toxic in its elitist message than Notting Hill…. cue Hugh Grant …
Nick Clegg meanwhile looks like he is doing what he should be – pressing behind the scenes for the government to do the right thing, but without giving a running commentary on his role. He has learned from previous mistakes. I also hope that when he sees the delegation from the Media Standards Trust this week, with Mr Grant and Milly Dowler’s family, they press him about the need to extend the probe on illegal activities to other papers, and that he listens.
As for Mr Murdoch, he looked a diminished figure as he gave that strange walking interview last night. News still seem to think a ‘Murdoch flies in to sort crisis’ headline means automatic resolution of the crisis. But it is not guaranteed. It is fair to say they have mishandled pretty much every step of this. They did not have a thought through media strategy when the crisis first erupted. They had better have one for the next few days, leading up to Wednesday’s Commons vote on the BSkyB deal, which is looking increasingly unlikely to succeed.
Then we have Yates of the Yard finally admitting what we have known all along, that his investigation was a joke. It really is pretty remarkable he is still there. He will be hoping his mea culpa takes heat off him. But I doubt that it will. And he really does need to be questioned over the contrasting zeal of his inquiry into cash for honours (sic) and the appalling lethargy shown over criminal activity by the News of the World.
Former DPP ‘Lord’ Macdonald also looks like he will be criticised by Parliament, and his judgement in going onto the payroll of News International is also under question.
Nice to see the Mail on Sunday unable to kick its addiction to made-up front page stories about Tony Blair (a bit off the pace Paul) … thrilling too to see that my tweet to the effect that Cameron’s ‘second chance’ line about Coulson makes him sound like a probation service not PM is made one of the central points of their leader. Plagiarism!