"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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Jo Swinson on Chris Rennard…

“Vince — and Tim before him — have repeatedly, publicly said Rennard is not welcome anywhere near their frontbench team, even as an adviser. I remain deeply frustrated that he was not expelled from the party through its disciplinary process. It just feels wrong, and I do not want Lord Rennard to continue as a member of the party. As far as I am concerned, he is not welcome.”

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