End of the road for NOTW, Beginning of the end for Dave.
168 years of circulation pulled in an instant as damage control by Rupert Murdoch. Over the last few weeks few would have predicted this outcome.
Many of us expected the NOTW to take a beating for a while, to claim contrition and pay some settlements. Maybe even to have been severely censured by the not-very-independent enquiry. Perhaps a spanking from the PCC. But closed down, not expected at all.
Of course, it may just have hastened the advent of a seven day Sun but spare a moment for those who have lost their jobs. They are bearing the brunt of earlier sins when the architects of those crimes are insulated from the effects of their actions. 200 staff to protect Rebekah Brooks.
Coulson it appears has been well and truly thrown to the wolves, detached from his political masters he is an easy target for the piranhas that fill the press pond. Of course the Scots legal system will want whats left after he gets beaten about for paying coppers for information. So a corrupt little liar he is then – allegedly.
Mr Murdoch after investing heavily in the conservative coffers over the years it appears is ready to take a minor hit to clear his way to the BSkyB deal. Eyes well and truly on the prize, as it were. He does nothing on a whim and when the time is right he’ll be prepared to plea bargain Rebekah for the takeover deal. Fit and proper person, of course not, but that will hardly matter.
The legal fallout will witter on for a while but essentially by giving up with one hand he hopes he can tighten a grip with the other. The NOTW was doomed the minute the Millie Dowler hack was known and then the whole can poured out into the light and we british just would accept no more. And once the public decide enough is enough, it is well and truly over.
So I say the end of the NOTW is a good thing, but its only a step along the road.
And so to Dave-call-me-dave. The PM. flashman. What does all of this do for him?
What he knew and what he didn’t will be causes of speculation for as long as he stays in office. This is the ticking time bomb that will see him sacrificed by his party to hang onto power.
The PM’s press conference today was telling by the evasiveness of his answers. He was shifty and trying to stick to the ‘second chance’ mantra that he has used since Coulson resigned earlier this year.
One of the reporters asked directly did you ask Andy Coulson about the hacking? Dave’s response was hopeless and led me to this conclusion. Dave didn’t ask because he already knew.
He had known, probably, and decided Coulson was a sufficiently useful ally that having him in number 10 was worth the risk. And besides the metropolitan police had already had an inquiry so the whole mess looked like it would be manageable.
However the tenacity of Tom Watson and the revelations leaking out here, there and everywhere changed the game.
The PMs judgement was brought into question. His ability to deny, deny, deny was compromised by the ludicrousness of his I never asked defence. Coulson is radioactive and he has rubbed off on Dave.
Add to that the real culprit (enter Ms Brooks) is just as close to Dave and Sam and the rest of their little dinner set. Dave never asked her either.
So both of Dave’s hands are smeared by his close association to the phonehackers.
Either this was an immense failure of judgement or a cover up of Watergate proportions. Complicit or ignorant?
The new defence of we are all to blame is bearing some fruit but by Sunday it will have rotted because the electorate will not accept that Dave didnt know.
They know he knew, or didn’t ask. Willfull ignorance is not plausible deniability.
‘Don’t Ask Don’t Tell’ is as much use as crossing one’s fingers as a contraceptive method.
David Cameron is beginning to look like the boy who got caught with his hand in the cookie jar.
The tory party grandees will be looking very carefully at the party leader, and when he starts to be a lame duck as the drip feed of scandal seeps onto the twitterverse, the blogosphere and the print media, they will act to have him go.
If only Clegg hadn’t ignore his briefing from the Guardian editor about Coulson he might have had a moral high ground to stand on. He did and he hasn’t. With his party in single digits there is no way he’ll work to break the coalition.
When the PM begins to look corrupt or a liability to the party (and it will look that way soon) he will have to go. Political parties are ruthless in their treatment of ailing leaders. They may cut their losses sooner rather than later.
The Tories may fancy going to the polls before Ed Miliband starts to gain traction and profile as leading on this issue and others.
An Election in the next 12 months would see a tory win I think (and so will they). Labour are not ready. No money and no real alternative policies fully in place.
One thing I think is apparent that Dave will not be leading the Tories at the next election in 2015