James Forsyth James Forsyth

Ed Miliband: Murdoch’s spell has been broken

I have an interview with Ed Miliband in the latest issue of The Spectator, conducted the evening before yesterday’s Parliamentary debate on News Corp and BSkyB. Here’s the whole thing for CoffeeHousers:

Rupert Murdoch’s hold on British politics has finally been broken. The politicians who competed to court him are now scrapping to see who can distance themselves fastest. As the Labour leader, Ed Miliband, says when we meet in his Commons office on Tuesday afternoon, ‘The spell has been broken this week and clearly it will never be the same again.’

Miliband and his staff have just heard that the government will support their motion calling for Murdoch to withdraw his bid for BSkyB. They are trying to contain their excitement, but their grins give them away. The press secretary, normally a nervous-looking soul, is beaming from ear to ear.

Their strategy, hatched late on Monday night, seems to have worked. They gambled that after the revelations of the past few days, no political leader would wish to be seen as supporting Murdoch. So if they used an Opposition Day debate to call a vote on the BSkyB bid, David Cameron would not dare to send MPs into the lobbies against it.

It all went according to plan: the Prime Minister is being left to play catch-up. The Labour leader sits on the sofa in the far corner of his office, leans back and, with a slightly bemused shake of the head, says that if a week ago somebody had mooted the idea of such a motion passing with all-party support, ‘I don’t think you would have believed that was possible.’

And he believes that this will stop News Corp in its tracks. ‘If the House of Commons speaks with one voice I think even Murdoch will find it hard to resist.’

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