When James Kirkup can headline a story:
the game is well and truly up. It’s next stop the political graveyard. No amount of Prime Ministerial life-support can prevent the inevitable.
What happened on the afternoon of 21st December 2010 is devastating — for Hunt, and for any pretence that the Cameron government had any detachment from the needs of Murdoch. That was the day when Vince Cable had been done over by the Telegraph belles. Here is Martin Hickman checking out the rest for the Indy:
By then, the bid had run into a hitch. Although the EU had cleared it, Mr Cable had referred it to the media regulator Ofcom, which wanted to pass it to the Competition Commission, which would have meant a lengthy delay. Mr Cable would clearly have to be stripped of the decision and it was most likely to go to the Culture Secretary, Mr Hunt.
At 12.57pm, Mr Hunt texted James Murdoch saying: “Great news and congrats on Brussels Just Ofcom to go.”
At 4pm, he had a phone call with Mr Murdoch.
At 4.08pm, he texted the Chancellor, George Osborne, to say he was “seriously worried we are going to screw this up.”
At 4.58pm, Mr Osborne texted back: “I hope you like our solution.”
At 5.45pm, the “solution” became clear: the Prime Minister David Cameron handed Mr Hunt control of the bid, despite knowing he had sent a memo to No 10 the previous month giving it his strong support.
Two tweets on the BBC rolling feed were very apt:
- Ross Hawkins Political correspondent, BBC News tweets: (will anyone in Westminster ever text anyone again?)
- Toby Young, writer tweets: Stupid question, but how come all these text messages were preserved? Why didn’t Hunt & co simply delete them after reading?
For the same reason, Mr Young, that Nixon kept all those tapes, perhaps.
So, we now have James Murdoch, Jeremy Hunt, “Gids” Osborne and Cameron himself, in a square dance of death.
Cue, with small emendation, Edgar Allan Poe:
And now was acknowledged the presence of the True Blue Death. He had come like a thief in the night. And one by one dropped the revellers in the blood-bedewed halls of their revel, and died each in the despairing posture of his fall. And the life of the ebony clock went out with that of the last of the gay. And the flames of the tripods expired. And Darkness and Decay and Court 73 of the Royal Courts of Justice held illimitable dominion over all.
Brilliant survey by Tom Watson, by the way.