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Parliament at its very worst

July 6, 2011

Parliament at its very worst

I write these words two hours or so before parliament has an emergency debate on the News International phone hacking scandal.

It is always a little unwise to predict how political theatre will turn out, but experience suggests this three hour debate will see a stream of MPs grandstanding in the most nauseous, hypocritical manner.

Like every fair-minded person around I am shocked (although not especially surprised) to learn that the industrial scale phone hacking extended to the relatives of Milly Dowler, the Soham schoolgirls, 7/7 victims etc.

However, over the past twenty years or more, the leadership of both main political parties have ingratiated themselves to the point of embarrassment at the shrine of Rupert Murdoch and News International. For the self-same politicians (led by Mr Ed Miliband) to turn on News International now smacks of rank hypocrisy. It shows the sorry state to which domestic politics has sunk and the unsavoury relationship between the Executive and the media. Unsurprisingly I have received umpteen emails over recent hours from constituents demanding that the government reconsider its decision to allow News International to make a bid for full ownership of BSkyB. Whatever the sound judicial reasoning it now seems politically impossible that News International can be regarded as ‘fit and proper’ to be entitled to expand its empire in this way.

One last thought – if you hear MPs preaching about the importance of ‘openness and transparency’ this afternoon, remember the genesis of the expenses scandal; namely the prolonged efforts through the High Court by parliament’s Great and Good between 2004 and 2009 to prevent publication of MPs’ expenses details. What is good for the goose…