If you have been watching BBC news or reading the Guardian you would think that Brown’s testimony was proven and Rupert Murdoch had made up the whole claim about Brown “declaring war”. At the Leveson Inquiry Lord Mandelson was questioned about the “war” call from Gordon Brown to Rupert Murdoch. It is worth revisiting what he said in his sworn testimony:
Jay Okay. You say in your book that Mr Brown was stunned by the news that the Sun had shifted allegiance, and that this grew greater, as it were, over the forthcoming weeks. Was it your assessment that Mr Brown was personally embittered by this?
Mandelson I think he was greatly upset by it. I don’t think he should have been surprised, but he took these things very personally. Look, different politicians will take these things in different ways, and he did feel stung by it. He thought that after all that he had done as Prime Minister, all that he had done to deliver our economy from the greatest post-war crisis that we had seen, during which he felt that in respect of the banks, for example, he had received a lot of encouragement from Rupert Murdoch and Irwin Stelzer and other informed commentators, that it was sort of unfair in a sense for them to turn on him now. He also felt wronged over Afghanistan, with good reason, and I was very sympathetic to him, but he shouldn’t have taken it so personally. You know, this is politics. …
Jay You might be able to throw direct light on that belief by a piece of evidence. We heard from Mr Murdoch — and he said it twice, sitting where you are — that there was a telephone call between him and Mr Brown when Mr Brown delivered what was tantamount to —
Mandelson But the interesting thing about the phone call —
Jay Can I —
Mandelson — is Mr Murdoch himself said that he did not agree with the method and timing of what had been done.
Jay Yes, but we don’t know yet from your evidence whether you know whether there was such a call, and that was the question.
Mandelson Oh, I’m sorry.
Jay The allegation is — or rather the evidence was from Mr Murdoch — that Mr Brown said or uttered the words “declare war on News International” or words to that effect. From your own knowledge, Lord Mandelson, can you assist us as to whether there was such a call? …
Mandelson I assume that there was the call because I seem to remember the Prime Minister telling me that Rupert Murdoch was not at all happy with the method and timing of James and Rebekah’s action.
Jay What did the Prime Minister tell you, Lord Mandelson, about the call? Did he communicate to you that that’s what he told Mr Murdoch?
Mandelson No, he didn’t say that. He told me what Mr Murdoch had said to him.
Jay So there was nothing about what Mr Brown said to Mr Murdoch? Is that your evidence?
Mandelson Yes, it is. I cannot remember being told by Mr Brown what he said, and I have no way of knowing. But I — but I know what he said to me about Rupert Murdoch’s reaction, which was to say basically: “I don’t like how it’s been done and I think it’s a bad day to do it and I wouldn’t have done it this way myself, but that’s life and we have to get on with it.”
Jay Mr Murdoch’s reaction to what, though, Lord Mandelson?
Mandelson The decision of the Sun to switch support from New Labour to the Conservative Party, which he has said, if I recall correctly, was James and Rebekah’s decision. Not the editor’s, incidentally.
Jay Can you at least assist us with the timing of this call? We know that there was a later call relating to the letter to the mother of the soldier who died in Afghanistan. We’re talking about an earlier conversation, if it took place.
Mandelson There would have been a number of — I mean, Gordon did not hold back in talking to Rupert Murdoch. He did telephone him, he had every right to do so, and when he thought that he was being traduced, as he did, by the Sun, he wanted to give vent to his feelings about that. I mean, who can blame him in the circumstances? Personally, I think it is better to go to editors rather than proprietors, but he did have a good relationship with Rupert and he invoked that friendship.
Rupert Murdoch has just tweeted that he is not backing down:
Given that as well as denying making any such call, Gordon denied all knowledge of what Ed Balls, Charlie Whelan and Damian McBride did on his behalf, Guido knows who he believes...
Councillor Roddy McCuish, Leader of Argyll & Bute Council says…
“There is no place for censorship in this Council and never will be whilst I am leader. I have advised senior officers that this Administration intends to clarify the Council’s policy position in regard to taking photos in schools. I have therefore requested senior officials to consider immediately withdrawing the ban on pictures from the school dining hall until a report can be considered by Elected Members. This will allow the continuation of the “Neverseconds” blog written by an enterprising and imaginative pupil, Martha Payne which has also raised lots of money for charity.”
The TV viewing figures for the first half of 2012 contained one very significant side note: Newsnight has been outperformed by Channel 4 News. A blow to the pride of Newsnight, Channel 4 News had an average of 0.699 million viewers while Newsnight managed only a meagre 0.664 million.
Michael Crick, who was pushed out of Newsnight and went back to Channel 4 News, will be laughing…
The Cabinet Office has revealed details of Gordon Brown’s chats with Rupert Murdoch: “We confirm there is a record of only one call between Mr. Brown and Rupert Murdoch in the year to March 2010, on 10th of November 2009”. Despite the statement making it clear that no independent civil servant was on the call to take minutes, the Prime Mentalist is claiming that he’s in the clear: “This statement confirms Mr Brown’s evidence to the Inquiry”. Not quite.
Before people start crowing that Murdoch has committed perjury, Uncle Rupe told the Inquiry that Brown phoned him in September 2009, not November. Given that Murdoch’s kids were having sleepovers at Chequers, we know full well that Gordon had a mobile phone…
George Osborne has taken a bashing this morning following his decision to fork out another £140 billion to the banks. The Institute of Directors warned that Funding for Lending will do nothing to make businesses want to borrow, noting that the move fails whatsoever to address fears over the Eurozone crisis.
The Institute of Economic Affairs were particularly damning, chastising the Chancellor for getting into a “terrible muddle” over banking policy and suggesting that “the left hand of the Treasury does not seem to know what the right hand is doing”. They highlight the fundamental contradiction between FSA regulation reducing the flow of funds to borrowers while the government subsidises lending from the very same banks. That GCSE maths textbook might come in handy.
Meanwhile Ed Balls backed the plans, saying “I welcome any action”. Says it all really…
There’s good news for Trinity Mirror employees today as bonus-happy boss Sly Bailey leaves the company.
She was expected to stay until the end of the year but has had her bags packed six months earlier than expected.
During her highly paid reign the share price slumped some 96% from their height in 2005.
Guido imagines there will be big drinks in the watering holes of Canary Wharf this lunch time…
Anne Widdicombe tells Gransnet…
“…Your son would not gain anything from civil marriage that he does not already have in a civil partnership. But under the proposals, your daughter would lose the right to describe herself, legally, as a wife.”
The Treasury’s £100bn bung of cheap loans to business is meant to install confidence in the economy. Previous similar actions on a smaller scale has not worked and no number is given for the expected take up. Asked on Today what will happen if this does not work, Treasury minister Mark Hoban said “we need to make this work!” Just the sort of language to inspire that much sought after confidence…