Last night Conservative MP Nick De Bois sat in the Commons Chamber, sitting, listening, and not taking part. That is until the proposal was made for Cathy Jamieson MP to sit on the Culture Media and Sport Select Committee. Then De Bois stood up and shouted object, which he is entitled to, but the following questions do arise.
Du Bois sat in the chamber for a while until the proposal was made, so clearly he came in to object. It's a surprise because Jamieson is a former MSP who is also a former Scottish Minister for Justice. Her expertise would have been invaluable with today's grilling of the Murdochs and Rebekah Brooks. Contrast that with Nick De Bois being, from what I have heard, connected with one of News International's stable companies.
The Conservative Party seems to be being uber protective at the expense of a criminal investigation. They know that with News International in the firing line and Associated Newspapers facing difficult questions, their most aggressive supporters in the media are facing a roasting which could damage hem. They also are aware that there is now a possibility this could bring down the coalition and with it, a general election where the Tories could face defeat. Take Iain Dale's comments, which led Tim Montgomerie sending him a tweet to hold firm.
“@TimMontgomerie: @IainDale Let's avoid feeding any idea DC acted improperly. Let's keep calm, clean the press, fix the police and return to the econ mission.”
Tim later blogged on the issue, taking the first sentence of his tweet to heart. Writing some of this on my iPhone I cannot cut and paste for a straightforward fisking so please bear with me. The link to Tim's post can be found here.
Whilst I agree with him about News of the World hackers and that Labour failed to do anything on it's watch (Something which shames me as a Labour activist and I suspect I am far from alone there), the fact remains that Cameron was warned repeatedly about Coulson and was offered enough evidence by the Guardian. He ignored evidence, maybe out of fear, which could damage him and his Party. That was a gross dereliction of duty.
I also find it incredible that Tim says that the Conservatives only made one or two mistakes with News International. So Thatcher's altering media monopoly laws which allowed Murdoch greater control and all those social events Cameron and other cabinet ministers visited, hosted by News Corp, was not among them then!Bear in mind the latter took place whilst Murdoch's bid for full control of BSkyB, adjudicated by govt, was underway.
Then Tim goes into a rant against the BBC. How often do we have to hear this tiresome rant from right-wing Tories who have more than enough bias towards them in the media.The BBC is subject to rules and regulations on bias which the Murdoch papers are not. Secondly the BBC is not subject to a criminal investigation. On both those counts Tim is a bit off the mark.
Walaa Idris, a Conservative pundit who I regard as a friend, then waded in and, honest of her, said the Tories had to "circle the wagons", but she made her mistake by saying that Cameron asked for the investigation to go where it leads and commending him for it and yet complained when that meant investigating the PM.
Make no mistake, the Conservative Party know that this could see them in real trouble and, criminal investigation or nt, this cannot happen where they are concerned. I think many Tories are blind to that fact, I just hope the Parliamentary Party does not realise who unpleasantly cynical they are being unless it's to say sorry