Saturday, September 04, 2010

The real scandal?

Not a few readers have been writing to tell me that I should "forget" about Hague and concentrate on the real scandal, the ongoing saga of Andy Coulson, the No 10 "communications chief" and former News of the World editor.

Actually, I would as soon forget about the whole bunch of them but, sadly, ignoring them does not make them go away. But the Coulson scandal will not go away either, as is gleefully recorded by The Guardian and many others, who are picking up on the so-called mobile phone hacking scandal.

The current development is that Coulson, who has denied any wrongdoing, has been fingered by the New York Times as having freely discussed the use of unlawful news-gathering techniques, with a former News of the World journalist claiming that he had been ordered by the former editor to tap phones.

This is Sean Hoare, who has also told BBC Radio 4's PM: "There is an expression called the culture of dark arts. You were given a remit: just get the story. Phone tapping hadn't just existed on the News of the World. It was endemic within the whole industry. I have gone on the record in the New York Times and said I have stood by Andy and been requested to tap phones, OK, or hack into them. He was well aware the practice existed. To deny it is simply a lie.

For the Tories to have their spinmeister implicated in an illegal activity is bad enough, but to have him also accused of lying through his teeth is more than a little unfortunate. It points once again to the lack of judgement of the Tory hierarchy and to the generally tawdry nature of British politics and politics in general.

The impression is further reinforced that politics is not something that ordinary, decent people have anything to do with – an impression that is not wrong, given the people we see involved in politics and their various deeds.

The Hague affair, therefore, is not separate from the Coulson affair. They are part of a continuum. These are people we can do without.