>Labour risk phone hacking inquiry by getting tribal with Coulson

>The Andy Coulson, News of the World, phone-hacking case has continued to rumble on today. Labour MP Tom Watson is going to raise the issue in Parliament, and Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner John Yates has said the inquiry could be reopened should new information come to light. Furthermore, Conservative Chair of the Culture, Media and Sport select committee John Whittingdale has said that he will not have people play politics with his committee, which conducted the initial inquiry into claims that News of the World journalists hacked the phones’ of public figures while No. 10 Communications Chief Andy Coulson was the editor. 

It is quite clear that Coulson has questions to answer. One of his former journalists claimed that he was aware phone hacking was going on in an extensive article in the New York Times. It is possible to believe that the editor of a large newspaper would not know if an individual journalist was participating in rogue practices. It is though harder to believe that if a practice such as phone tapping was in widespread use by an organisation that the boss would not have both known about it and sanctioned it. 

However, relishing the chance to attack one of the figures who was key in their removal from power, tribalist Labour MPs have reduced this important issue into a petty game of partisan politics.  The five candidates for the Labour leadership have all called for further inquiry into the issue, with Ed Balls seemingly spending the whole weekend talking about it to anyone that would listen. The Shadow Home Secretary Alan Johnson has also added his voice to the calls for an inquiry, and Alistair Campbell has unsurprisingly joined in on twitterIt shows a staggering lack of political subtlety on the part of them all, and risks an important media story being lost in the corridors of Westminster. The more tribal they get, the more Conservative high command will protect their man.

As far as Andy Coulson is concerned, how long until he finds himself faced with the ‘Malcolm Tucker conundrum’ – when you become the story it’s time to go.


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