Friends of Dave and the political smartness of some cops…

Sorry to keep harping on about what is essentially a Westminster story, but Simon Heffer has an intriguing angle on the kinds of stresses inside the Tory party as a result of their leader’s doughty (and patrician) handling of the #murdochgate crisis:

The police may not be interested – though I fail to understand why – but the House of Commons is, and is likely to summon Mr Coulson to ask him, again, what he knew. Not knowing about one reporter’s breaking the law may be just about feasible, even though large sums of his newspaper’s money changed hands in the course of the crime. Not knowing about a systemic programme of voicemail-tapping seems simply incredible. Dave supports his mate Mr Coulson loudly and publicly. In the same way, he supports shadow ministers and mates like George Osborne, Francis Maude, Michael Gove and Jonathan Djangoly: all of whom, in the eyes of some of their colleagues, have questions still to answer about their attitude to the use of public money. To many increasingly bitter Tory MPs, ethical behaviour, or even the public perception of it, is not the test the leader has applied in making judgements of whom to back and whom to drop: it is whether the person under scrutiny has the mark of the leader’s favour, or is useful. In all the horrors of the last few weeks, only one of Dave’s close circle has bitten the dust – Andrew MacKay, and he realised the game was up.

Also worth a listen is the Guardian’s podcast on the matter, and not to mention Michael White’s perspicacious observations on the strange behaviour of the Metropolitan Police in all of this:

Nothing new to investigate, he concluded after a brisk look through the file. “Yard won’t probe Tory’s spin doctor on phone taps,” is the Mail’s page 10 verdict, next to a photo of the toothsome Nigella Lawson, whose phone records were targeted. The FT, normally on the respectable (who says?) side of Fleet Street’s culture wars, also took its cue from Yates. A disappointment, but the paper is going through one of its more Tory cycles. It gave the affair extensive treatment on the inside pages of the UK edition.

The Yard’s decision, which was greeted with relief in David Cameron’s office, was admirably speedy of Yates, who took well over a year to marshal his lack of a case against Tony Blair and his minions in the loans-for-honours affair. During that period, newspapers and TV were fed a lot of information damaging to Blair. Yates suspects No 10 briefed against itself. I retain my suspicions, which yesterday’s turn of events have not diminished. He is a smart political copper.

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  • Just shows the Tories are the same old sleazebags.

  • Sam Flanagan

    With a glimpse being given of the scope of resources available to the MSM “journalists,” to “research,” a “journalistic target.”

    It is not beyond the bounds of possiblity some MSM “journalist” has a full record of Geoffrey Donaldson`s 68 pay per view movies!

    Modern Journalists and politicians deserve each other.

  • Mrsta

    how IS life in England? Bet it’s a million miles away from your upbringing. Travel does indeed open the mind.

    I reckon this post gets less than 15 comments, Ho Hum 😉

  • Mick Fealty


    I can tell you for certain that what is known to any journo inside the Telegraph is in that original story, and *nothing* more. The rest is mind-reading.


    Not so far. My grounding in the sometimes paranoid world of NI pols may even have prepped me to take notice of detail some of the more tribally imprinted English journos are less likely to account for.

    And in any case, it is the quality that counts, not quantity… 😉

  • Driftwood

    In the same way, he supports shadow ministers and mates like George Osborne, Francis Maude, Michael Gove and Jonathan Djangoly

    And don’t we wish we had top notch politicians of their calibre running things here. Actually they will pretty soon thankfully. And Trumpton can be (hopefully) be a bad dream. Albeit an expensive sideshow.

  • frustrated democrat

    It is interesting to see how people view all these ‘scandals’.

    The DT paying someone for confidential stolen information on 646 + people is OK

    The NoW paying for information on the conversations of an indeterminate number of people is not OK.

    Can someone explain the difference?

    It is easily possible that the editor did not know about the ‘taps’ as it probably was contained in the overall PI’s bill and definitely not specifcally mentioned. How many MD’s know of every purchase their organisation makes in detail.

    I suspect Cameron knows exactly what he is doing and has a lot of information we don’t, either that or he will finish up with a lot of egg on his face if Coulson had to go.

    We will know in the next couple of weeks.

  • Mick Fealty

    The Telegraph story was OK, because although there was a breach in the law in obtaining the material in the first place, there was also a clear and unambiguous public interest case, as there is in this story about Murdoch’s fishing expeditions into the lives of the great and the good. The State would not/should not ever get away with that kind of intelligence gathering ruse, nor should any big corporate. The fact that one former tabloid journo had calculated that the tipping point for buying information from a reluctant witness in the late 90’s early 00’s was about £7.5k is an indication that what we have is not so much a media industry, but a commercial intelligence gathering operation in service to a large multi-national corporation which is in turn, we might surmise but cannot absolutely prove is using it for purposes above and beyond the wider public interest.

    That the case they got caught on was a probe on the family of the British head of state should only underline the seriousness of the situation. And that’s before people start looking at the way Tories have been disrupting Labour with a string of confidential information leaks over the last 18 months. How do they know this stuff? Who’s got form on running ‘surviellance’ operations inside big institutions?

    You don’t have to be paranoid to at least come up with some rational questions if not conclusive answers.

    I’m no Cameron basher, but this is not going to go away even if the immediate story dies in the Commons select committee next week. As I said on Obnoxio the Clown’s blog…

    The past is never entirely at rest on the ‘net. That’s analogue thinking. In the US Murdoch is already being dragged back to his ‘Dirty Digger’ days through this mess. And Coulson is a sitting duck; pretty much anyone can say anything about him and get away with it (and he’s not even in government yet).

    You can bet on the continuing stupidity of the Government to get your people through this self inflicted mess. But make no mistake, this was a hit; a very palpable hit.

  • Drumlins Rock

    eight posts – half way to NI becoming civilised

    First – is he any relation to Chuck Coulson of Watergate fame? 🙂
    Second – I love the way the media have quicky changed this from an exposure of thier dirty underhand tactics to a political storey, does the PCC need finally to get some teeth.
    Third – Whos getting tired of the old trophy head hunting circus? the issues get forgtten and it becomes a game of claiming the biggest scalp on either side.

  • DC

    Andy Coul’SS’on?

  • frustrated democrat


    So if they had been tapping the phones of MP’s discussing their expenses it would have been OK.

    My opinion is both were completely illegal and should have been treated as such. That doesn’t mean I agree with what the MP’s did but two wrongs don’t make a right.

    Public interest is a means of turning a blind eye to illegality whether used by the Government e.g. bribes in Saudi or by others outside the Government in the case of theft.

  • Mick Fealty

    There’s a line to be drawn fd. Telegraph did not solicite that info; neither did the Murdoch owned Times who turned it down before. And there was clear public interest involved.

    NOTW was running operations just speculatively looking for dirt, and considering Murdoch was also proactively blocking any reform of PCC over several political terms (Tory as well as Labour) you have to wonder what on earth was going on: no?

    To be blunt this is further evidence evidence of a Protestant state losing a grip on its own hard won Protestant values.

  • Drumlins Rock

    Hey thats cheating Mick!!
    Bringing religion into it so that you can get a few more comments on the post!
    I think the PCC is an important issue though, the press is underming the state and creating too much goverment policy, yes the politicians play along and feed the beast but whats the option otherwise?

  • I hear what you are saying DR, but there’s a deeper point to be made. I’m really looking forward to finding out what honest right of centre British bloggers Cranmer have to say about this crisis.

    Through all of this ciris of public confidence in the Westminster institutions we’ve been invited to believe that we should not worry because the Tories were coming to bring democratic renewal and a fresh start.

    Dan Hannan speaking at end of Reboot Britain pointed out that this was not the preserve of one side or the other, but was a harbinger of a new era in which all parties would be challenged.

    That’s what this story signifies. And on a deep level it is nothing less than a challenge to the basic values the state was founded on. Those just have happen to be profoundly Protestant in character, though it is clear that the values of it’s people and the politicians they choose are no longer that.

  • Sam Flanagan

    Your not a “closet John Calvin” are you? lol

  • Very far from it Sam (besides the UK is Anglican than Calvinist state in essence), but these issues are basic to the assumptions upon which the state operates.

  • Drumlins Rock

    Anglicanism is a strange beast, not big into dogmas, and tries to cover all bases, just like the British constitution, or lack of one. I hope in this sweep of refore the baby dosnt get thrown out, and in some ways a “conservative party” will be less inclined to do so, i hope, yes some treaking is needed, mainly due to devoloution, but i think the system works quite well, the big problem is the relationship with the media.
    the 2 things i hated about Tony Blair was his un necessary constitutional refore and reliance on spin, spin will always come back to bite you, dont feed it,

  • frustrated democrat


    We either have laws or we don’t; if we want public interest to be enshrined in law as a defence then it should be debated and enacted so everyone knows exactly where they are.

    This attitude that we can accept laws or not as we think fit is not acceptable, I may not agree with every law enacted but I have to accept their legitimacy and abide by them.

    I am not sure where religion fits in, is one religion more honest than another? Or do you just think they have different moral values?

  • cynic

    Some of the denials look very affirmative so let’s see what happens. And all these gushing commnets that the House Of Commons will ‘investigate’ – just let’s be clear that that means Labour MPs will use the House Committees to try to smear and undermine their political opponents in the last term before a gneral election. So we can expect a lot of openness and objectivity there then.

    The bottom line seems to be that the Police found nothing more to investigate but now, years later, the Guardian run a series of stories that help take the heat off Labours sleazy behaviour and try to smear the Conservatives. Funny that, isnt it.