What do YOU think is worse: Phone hacking or buying votes with blood?


Since we are to have a Judicial Inquiry into the wicked Press, shouldn’t we also have one into wicked politicians?

Journalists can be nasty, and newspapers beastly, but their misdeeds are as nothing set beside those of governments.

Governments also hack into phones, poke their noses into our personal affairs and misuse the information they obtain.

The Murdoch Press slobbered for years at the feet of the Blair government. They had a priceThe Murdoch Press slobbered for years at the feet of the Blair government. They had a price

Governments break up families in secret and hold increasing numbers of trials in secret, too. Governments sell information about us to outsiders.

The state records our emails, spies on our rubbish bins and uses airport X-ray machines to peer sneakily at our naked bodies. 

It knows what we earn and where we live and monitors our medical records. It takes an increasingly creepy interest in what we think and say. 
No doubt politicians claim that these actions are justified. But who is to know, especially in a country with a weakened Press? 


However, these are minor crimes when set beside the other things governments do. Newspapers don’t bomb Belgrade or Baghdad or Tripoli, or invade Afghanistan and then forget why they did it.

Newspapers don’t waterboard people, or bundle them off to clandestine prisons. Newspapers don’t release hundreds of convicted terrorists on to the streets nor thousands of convicted ordinary criminals either.

Newspapers don’t open our frontiers to hundreds of thousands of unchecked migrants. 

But you may – rightly – say: What about the newspapers that have helped governments do some or all of these things?

And here I will agree with you. The proper relationship between the Press and the government is the same as the one between a dog and a lamppost.

Yet the Murdoch Press slobbered for years at the feet of the Blair government. They had a price. The Murdoch empire wanted Britain to go to war, in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The grotesque screeching of lies that stampeded us into these wars was a joint operation between News International and the dark heart of Alastair Campbell’s Downing Street. 

Then, when New Labour sagged, the same deal was on offer to anyone else cynical enough to accept it. I have never forgotten October 2, 2009, when David Cameron paid his first instalment to Rupert Murdoch, in return for his papers’ support in the coming Election. 

He promised a closer engagement in Afghanistan – ‘If I’m Prime Minister, Whitehall will go to war from minute one, hour one, day one that I walk through the door of Downing Street.’ 

He made other promises, driven by public opinion. But nobody, in September 2009, wanted us to get deeper into Afghanistan. Nobody, that is, except Mr Murdoch.

In short, Mr Cameron was quite ready (as he has since proved) to send people to their deaths in Helmand and to allow many more to be maimed for life, to secure the support of The Sun during the Election campaign. This was one pledge he unequivocally kept.

From that moment, I decided that Mr Cameron was personally disgusting as well as politically wretched. I think paying for office with the blood and limbs of other people is quite a lot worse than hacking into Milly Dowler’s phone, even if it isn’t illegal.

And I’d like to hear Mr Cameron’s account – on oath – of the negotiations that led to this bargain.

Just as I’d like to hear Anthony Blair’s account – on oath – of what he promised these people and what role they played in the carnage he unleashed in Iraq.

Instead we get an investigation into the Press. Haven’t we got things a little out of proportion?


Being British has no future – for anyone

I spent most of Sunday in the lovely Northern Irish city of Armagh, which on Tuesday was the scene of violent disturbances.

I was not surprised to hear this. It was clear from the rival displays of flags of both Unionist and Nationalist communities – half-a-mile apart – that even this small country town remains profoundly divided, and the 1998 surrender to the IRA has not resolved the province’s problems at all.

I watched a modest Orange Parade, largely middle-aged and far from triumphalistI watched a modest Orange Parade, largely middle-aged and far from triumphalist

As I reported some weeks ago, several indicators suggest that the tensions are actually worse. I watched a modest Orange Parade, largely middle-aged and far from triumphalist.

And I felt for those in the Province who simply wish to remain British and must now live under the rule of Martin McGuinness and his band of ruffians. Mind you, there’s not much future these days for anyone anywhere who wants to stay British. That’s not allowed.

A pathetically thin excuse

I have now measured the road that Defence Minister Andrew Robathan says is  ‘very narrow’, too narrow, apparently, for the hearses containing dead soldiers  from Afghanistan. 

I went to Carterton, the  small town on the doorstep of RAF Brize Norton where the honoured dead will arrive after September.

And I measured the Burford Road, just outside the Church of St John the Evangelist, along which the cortege could pass on its way to Oxford, if the authorities had not chosen another route, which carefully avoids the only major High Street nearby.

The road at this point is  22ft wide, which doesn’t  strike me as specially narrow. Two-way traffic was getting through pretty briskly. 

What is more, Carterton, a strikingly modern town with exactly the same population as Wootton Bassett, has plenty of broad pavements on which people might – if they wished – assemble to pay their respects to those who did  their duty to the utmost.

Of course, the Prime Minister and his shadowy, rich backers (not all Murdoch employees) dwell just round the corner in the cosy hills above Witney and Chipping Norton. I do wonder what contacts they may have had with the Tory-controlled Oxfordshire County Council that has selected the route. The whole thing is increasingly suspicious.


Boston and the silent explosion

Say this to yourself slowly. A quarter of the population of Boston, Lincolnshire, are immigrants from Eastern Europe, Portugal and Asia.

This amazing fact was well down the story about an explosion in an alleged moonshine factory. But it is in many ways far more explosive than the explosion. 

I first visited Boston 25 years ago when it was such a settled place that people from outside that part of Lincolnshire (me) were actually called ‘foreigners’ by the locals. 

The repeated warnings from Sir Andrew Green of MigrationWatch, that the country is being transformed by migrants, are plainly true.

The only remaining question is whether it is a deliberate policy or mere incompetence.



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