Ed’s learning: he’s done a Dave over Murdoch

Credit where it’s due, fair’s fair, and well-played.

As Paul Walter noted here on LDV on Wednesday, Labour leader Ed Miliband is having a good war, sticking up for clear and proper principles — a judge-led public inquiry, referring News International’s BSkyB bid to the Competition Commission, and the public call for the resignation of Rebekah Brooks — that resound well with the public.

By contrast, David Cameron is on the back-foot over the unravelling scandal at News International, compromised both by having hired former News of the World editor Andy Coulson as his director of communciations (despite warnings), as well as by his friendship with Rebekah Brooks and and the influential ‘Chipping Norton set’, described here by Peter Oborne.

The parallels with the MPs’ expenses scandal are clear enough. First, the Establishment is once again in hot water for protecting its own: much of the media, the police and Parliament turned a blind eye to mounting evidence of systematic criminality because everyone was too damned implicated at one level or another by the web of deceit that’s been spun.

And secondly, the politician who wins will be the one who successfully projects the image of the ‘leader of change’. David Cameron had personally to repay expenses as a result of the Telegraph’s original revelations — £680, including a bill for clearing wisteria from his chimney — yet it was he (with Nick Clegg) who more effectively led the popular call for reform, and forced Gordon Brown onto the defensive, though Mr Brown’s expenses were above board.

Ed Miliband has been carefully cultivating his links with Rupert Murdoch. There were he and Ed Balls at the News International summer party a couple of weeks ago. Who did he hire as his communications chief? Tom Baldwin, a senior Times journalist who it was hoped would build bridges with the Murdoch empire. And, of course, Labour under Tony Blair made determined efforts always to stay on the right side of The Sun.

Yet, with admirable shamelessness, it is Ed Miliband who is making the running on this issue — arguing that the Prime Minister “doesn’t get” the need for change — just as David Cameron left Gordon Brown trailing in his wake over expenses. I’m not sure the Labour leader is ever going to be capable of that journalistic cliche, ‘capturing the public’s imagination’. His public persona seems almost irretrievably lakclusre to me. But he is expressing public opinion coherently, and that may just count for more than Dave’s wobbly vagueness.

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13 Comments

  • I don’t suppose you want to update this entry to confirm who was at the party from the Lib Dems ?

  • Let’s hope our MPs have the sense to take a stand and back the Labour motion, rather than get suckered into covering the Tories’ backs yet again

  • I thought Chris Huhne was good on Marr this morning, arguing against Cameron – almost as if Huhne is an Opposition politician.

    Also interesting to find out that Ashdown warned Cameron but Clegg said ‘It is not up to me to tell the prime minister who to appoint as his director of communications” despite needing to work closely with him.

    There is leadership and principle in the Lib Dems, but perhaps not in the leader.

  • Miliband, Balls, Cooper & wee Dougie Alexander were brown-nosing Murdoch at the NI summer party less than 3 weeks ago, alomg with Cameron & the Tories. Miliband is a hypocrite. Both Labour & the Tories are deeply mired in this with Murdoch.

    as former Sun editor David Yelland said:

    “One man utterly beyond the tentacles of any of his family, his editors or his advisers. That man is Nick Clegg.”

    “Make no mistake, if the Liberal Democrats actually won the election – or held the balance of power – it would be the first time in decades that Murdoch was locked out of British politics. In so many ways, a vote for the Lib Dems is a vote against Murdoch and the media elite.”

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2010/apr/18/clegg-media-elite-murdoch-lib-dem

  • This could be a watershed moment in restoring some balance between the power and influence of Murdoch and our political parties. It doesn’t really matter so much what Parties have done in the past, the improtant thing is to take this opportuintuy and send a clear signal. All credit to the MP’s that spoke out in the Commons last week – from all sides. It was nice to see the Commons stand up to him for once. All credit too, to Ed Miliband – he has given a clear lead – I am hoping that the Lib Dem MP’s join with Labour and others to stop the B Sky B takeover.

  • Don Lawrence 10th Jul '11 - 1:05pm

    How I wish our leadership had the bottle to make this a case of Labour joining with us to stop the BSKYB takeover.

  • Absolutely. Of all the major parties we’re the least tained by Murdoch and we should be leading on this issue – following through on Vince’s position earlier in the year. We don’t owe the Tories anything on this and would look ridiculous not voting to block the BSkyB bid, however hypocritical Labour’s sudden conversion might be.

  • Good post, @AmyMcLoed. As a disaffected ex-LD voter, if your party joins Labour to stop the BSkyB deal going through you will indeed have begun the long process of redeeming yourselves in my eyes (and quite possibly in the eyes of many other left-of-centre people who feel let down by the LibDems). You’d still have a long way to go (especially when it comes to the way sick/disabled people are being treated) but you will have, at least, started the process.

  • Yes, Nick Clegg has made some seemingly strong anti-Murdoch noises. He has also targeted the Press Complaints Commission, thereby taking a deliberately noisy shot against a secondary target, while quietly doing less against the primary target. He has also, on this issue, uttered the fatal phrase “The Prime Minister and I”. That tells you something.

    Ed Miliband, for all his many faults, understands that this sort of thing is not good enough. This is a fight to the death. Murdoch will assuredly kill Miliband, the way he killed Kinnock, if he is allowed the chance. So, Miliband will try to kill Murdoch first.

    We should be alongside him on that. Murdoch would also want to kill an independent third party which genuinely stands up against corrupt powerful vested interests – as, until recently, we have always promised to do.

    Murdoch would of course be a lot happier with a third party led by a political weathervane, who would happily make multiple policy shifts from left to right or right to left for opportunistic reasons, and would be happy to play second fiddle to a more dominant personality.

    Is that where the Lib Dems have got to? Will we stay that way?

  • Ed Shepherd 14th Jul '11 - 7:30am

    I remember the eighties. The asaults by the Murdoch press on Neil Kinnock were disgraceful and subverted democracy for decades. Therefore, I am not surprised that Blair, Brown and Milliband have tried to stay on the right side of Rupert Murdoch. Finally, there is a chance to take an effective stand against the Murdoch empire. The Lib Dems should seize the opportunity.

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