The clunking fist is descending on Rupert Murdoch. After rumours all afternoon about Gordon Brown giving a statement on phone hacking to the Commons, the Guardian has come up with specifics: News International, they allege, used private investigators to target our Prime Minister’s phone, his bank account and his family’s medical records. You should be able to watch it all go down in the Commons, very soon.
As Guido has said, there is more than a hint of cold, cold revenge about this. For all his overtures to the Murdoch press, Brown never wound his way into their affections as Tony Blair did. The Sun’s decision to shift over to the Tories, in 2010, sparked Brownite anger at the time. That anger still rankles.
But these are serious allegations nonetheless, and they will ratchet up the political pressure on Murdoch. Indeed, it’s being reported that the Sunday Times — i.e. not the News of the World — will be implicated in them. If so, then the question hovers even more imposingly in the air: how far does all this spread? We have hopscotched from “one rogue reporter” to the closure of an entire newspaper in recent days. Even that may not be enough to contain the rot.
Politically speaking, the battle to appear harder on Murdoch has now swung overwhelmingly in Labour’s direction again. Their former leader is joining their current leader in taking the fight to News International. After years of cocktails and canapés around Wapping way, that is quite some some change.