"Coulson, Coulson, Coulson"

coulson guardianAn excited Labour spin-doctor called Guido yesterday evening and said “we’re going to do to Coulson what you did to McBride”… “it’s going to be Coulson, Coulson, Coulson all day”.  Guido isn’t convinced that comparison being made by Alstair Campbell with McBride is a good one in this situation.  The comparison with Alastair Campbell himself is a better one.

Before spinning for Blair, Campbell had been a loyal servant of Robert Maxwell when everyone knew the pension stealing crook was a rogue.  Before dining at Maxwell’s Mirror boardroom table Campbell had knocked out a few porno fantasy stories to make ends meet.  This was before he went to Downing Street.

Before spinning for Cameron, Coulson dined at Murdoch’s boardroom table and oversaw an aggressive “get the story by any means necessary” culture at the News of the Screws.  The hacking of mobile phones was a simple trick known to many a tabloid reporter.  (Call the mobile number, when it went to voicemail tap in the network default pin code.  If the phone owner hadn’t set a pin code you were in and could listen to voicemails.)  When the News of the World’s royal reporter was caught at it, Coulson resigned saying he took “ultimate responsibility” for the hacking affair.  He also avoided having to explain himself to the PCC in so doing.  This was before he went to Millbank that is the key difference between this situation and the situation with McBride – it happened years ago in a former job, not yesterday.

Coulson won’t be in any danger of having to resign unless evidence emerges linking him directly to phone hacking – and you can safely bet there won’t be a smoking gun memo or email.   When Coulson won the Press Gazette Newspaper of the Year award in 2005 he said “The News of the World doesn’t pretend to do anything other than reveal big stories and titillate and entertain the public, while exposing crime and hypocrisy”. Guido suspects that the newspapers that will be wringing their hands over illegal hacking won’t include the Telegraph, Mirror or the MailNow that would be hypocritical…

Incidentally, despite dark hints to the contrary from the likes of Kevin Maguire, Guido has never met or spoken to Andy Coulson. Not even an email. Now Kevin, he met McBride and got emails from him, didn’t he…




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Quote of the Day

David Cowling, the BBC’s head of political research, in an internal memo…

“It seems to me that the London bubble has to burst if there is to be any prospect of addressing the issues that have brought us to our current situation. There are many millions of people in the UK who do not enthuse about diversity and do not embrace metropolitan values yet do not consider themselves lesser human beings for all that. Until their values and opinions are acknowledged and respected, rather than ignored and despised, our present discord will persist. Because these discontents run very wide and very deep and the metropolitan political class, confronted by them, seems completely bewildered and at a loss about how to respond (“who are these ghastly people and where do they come from?” doesn’t really hack it). The 2016 EU referendum has witnessed the cashing in of some very bitter bankable grudges but I believe that, throughout this 2016 campaign, Europe has been the shadow not the substance.”

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