Has Harriet Harman flipped over to a paralell universe?

I think I witnessed one of the most ridiculous appearances on TV by a politician this morning. Harriet Harman was on Sky News at 8.30am. She looked like she was still waking up and I thought “Thank goodness I’m not a politician. Who would want to be up at 8am on a Saturday to be on Sky News?”.

She wanted Cameron to appoint a judge to lead the hacking inquiry TODAY. Her logic seemed crazy:

Think about what is going to happen at the end of today: the News of the World is going to be closed down, all the staff are going to be disappearing. What will happen to the computers? If a judge is really to find out what happened, not to mention the police inquiry, if all the staff are going off in different directions it would be very difficult for the judge to call on them to come and give the evidence that they know.

So a judge would go into Wapping Murdoch HQ at 9pm and start unplugging computers and sticking them in the back of his Roller would he/she?

And, as for staff going off in different directions, is it not possible that staff records may show their….er….address?

And, in any case, the staff now leaving the NOTW weren’t around when the hacking was taking place.

It really was one of the most obviously hasty, opportunist TV appearances by a politician I have ever seen.

It’s the police’s job to run criminal investigations and secure evidence.

…And this lady used to be Solicitor General. Crikey.

Even in July 2009, Cameron’s stupidity over hiring Coulson was obvious

Jonathan Calder replies to a comment with a quote from his Liberal England blog from July 9th 2009. He warned about the phone hacking scandal and the danger of hiring Coulson.

By spooky coincidence, I see that on precisely the same day I wrote about the phone hacking affair, Coulson and Cameron under the title: “Cameron’s brazen hypocrisy“. I concluded as follows:

Now, the little toe-rag (Cameron) has been revealed as having the most appalling judgment as to who to hire, and thinks he can brazen it out with his posh accent.

He appears to still think that, if his press conference this week was an indication…..

Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain

At about 11 o’clock last night I tweeted a link to this YouTube clip (above) from the classic film “The Wizard of Oz”. The clip is from the end of the movie, when the all-powerful wizard is revealed to be just an old man behind a curtain franctially pulling levers to create an illusion and projecting his voice via a microphone into a vast sound system. The curtain is pulled open by Toto, the dog. The almighty wizard is finally revealed to be just an old man.

It seemed the perfect allegory for what has happened this week to Rupert Murdoch. Up until now he has been this untouchable, almighty figure at the head of a vast empire, feared and reviled in equal measure. Now, the curtain has been drawn back and we see that he is just an old man.

So, it was very reassuring this morning to see the Guardian making the same reference at the top of its leader page:

There comes a moment in The Wizard of Oz when Dorothy’s dog, Toto, tears back a curtain to reveal an old man pulling levers and speaking into a microphone. This extraordinary week has had something of that feel about it. A generation of people in British public life – including politicians, police officers and, yes, journalists – have lived with the increasing power of one person, Rupert Murdoch. He was a bad man to upset, and so most people kept their heads below anything that looked like a parapet. Politicians, in particular, paid court to him and to his lieutenants. They felt they needed Rupert Murdoch’s support in order to win power, or stay in power. This suited Mr Murdoch very well: he had things he needed from them, too.

These individual relationships weren’t in themselves corrupt, nor is Mr Murdoch the purely malign caricature of some imaginations. But the effect of this power was indeed corrupting. And that is why this week’s ripping back of the curtain has felt so liberating.

Stunning video: Steve Coogan rips into the News of the World on Newsnight

This clip (below) is a classic of its genre. On last night’s Newsnight, Steve Coogan really lays into the News of the World, in the person of Paul McMullan. Priceless. I was amazed Coogan stayed in his seat. I thought he was going to get up and punch the man at one point. Give Paul McMullen his due. He keeps up the defence. But Coogan keeps on knocking his arguments for six.

At the end of the interview, the presenter puts it to McMullan that he is a bit of a tortured soul. Well, that is certainly consistent with McMullen’s harrowing admissions about Denholm Elliott’s daughter on the World at One on Thursday. He concluded:

Yeah, I’d totally humiliated and destroyed her. It wasn’t necessary. She didn’t deserve it. She was having a bad time after her own dad had died, and, yeah, I went a step too far. And it was based on, now, a criminal act, so you’ve got to question in some cases, criminal acts perpetrated by journalists aren’t always justified and in this case it was not. Not only was it not justified ,it was downright wrong – I sincerely regret it, and again, if there was anyone to apologise to, I would, but they’re all dead – mother’s dead, she’s dead, father’s dead. So in any way seeking atonement, I can at least say in this case we were wrong.

Noone left to apologise to. It sounds as though he needs to apologise to himself. In other words, it seems he needs to come to terms with his own conscience, to confess his wrong-doings and start afresh. I can recommend a way forward on that.


Rebekah Brooks: All-knowing and unknowing

From the Guardian yesterday:

9.07pm: Rebekah Brooks told News of the World staff today that she couldn’t have resigned because she had no idea until the Guardian broke the story on Monday that anyone had hacked into Milly Dowler’s phone

Earlier the Guardian reported:

6.14pm: Rebekah Brooks “has visibility” on further revelations relating to criminal activity, according to ‘Sky Sources’.

Brooks has also apparently told staff that “in a year’s time it’ll become apparent why we did this”.

So where do these two snippets leave us?

On the one hand, Rebekah Brooks is saying that she knows nothing. She was surprised last Monday to hear about the Milly Dowler accusations, even though she was Editor of the paper when the events were supposed to have taken place.

On the other hand, she is saying that she knows everything and knows about all sorts of naughtiness which are yet to come out, but about which she is presumably not at liberty to talk.

It’s difficult to reconcile those two positions. She is saying that, at once, she is unknowing and, at the same, she is all-knowing.

Or perhaps she is saying that she knows everything about when Andy Coulson was Editor of the News of the World, but nothing about when she was Editor. That’s a curious position to be in. But it tends to be consistent with the line of News International from the latter half of this week.

To the apparent anger of the police, they released the news that there was a matter of bungs being given to the Old Bill and seemed to emphasise that this was done under Coulson’s watch, and not under Brooks’.

Then they posited that Rebekah Brooks was on holiday while the Dowler and Soham incidents took place and, oh, what a coincidence, Andy Coulson was standing in as Deputy Editor on both occasions.