While I don’t make a “twat” of myself, I am partial to following the ebb and flow of opinion as it is delivered on twitter. And it seems to me that an old story has been re-awakened and is causing the Tories a great deal of discomfort: that of the News of the World’s hacking of celebrity mobile phones.
I felt at the time the story first broke that Coulson had escaped incredibly lightly and that Cameron was clearly taking a big risk by hanging on to him. But it seemed to me that he had, in fact, escaped.
However, at the time, Coulson’s presence (or absence) was not as important to the Dirty Tricks Division of the Labour Party. Now that they have the sniff of an opportunity to damage Cameron in the eyes of the public, a curious alliance of bloggers, twitterers, Labour MPs, The Guardian and the New York Times has formed to make something of this. All of a sudden, Tom Watson has found a voice to complain about these alleged misdeeds, something that he was quite mellow about last time around. And indeed, the sight of the man whose name was most frequently associated with Damian McBride getting on his high moral horse is beyond ironic.
What appears to have eluded all these moral campaigners is that all the big names making a play here have actually got a financial interest in the story: The Guardian would love nothing better than to destroy the News of the World and severely tarnish the reputation of tabloids in general; the New York Times is worried about Murdoch having a presence in the US; and the Labour Party, who were in government when this story first broke and were in a position to do something about having it investigated fully have suddenly found it compelling to do something.
This is not to say that I believe Coulson or the News of the World are innocent (or guilty for that matter!) I’d be surprised if all newspapers did not indulge in deeds that were at the very least morally dubious — including the Guardian and the New York Times!
But those “little people” who are campaigning with such fervour over these alleged abuses and who are revelling in the company of MPs and important newspapers might want to take a step back and look at the motivation of all those who are fighting this fight.
Their motives may be considerably less noble than they appear.