The phone hacking scandal is the MP’s Expenses of 2011. It’s difficult to turn on the TV without someone expressing a view on the Murdochs, the Ginger News Donkey, the Police and politicians – invariably from either scruffy loony Paul McMullen or unlikely hero Hugh Grant.
The problem with the whole debacle is that almost everyone involved (including Glenn Mulcaire, one suspects) would have done things differently if they had the benefit of perfect hindsight. And, Boris appears to be amongst that number.
In a recent statement, the Mayor said: “Even if only a small number of people were implicated, these allegations have to be taken extremely seriously and investigated ruthlessly and openly.”
The problem is that this statement represents a bit of a change of tune on the issue. Boris is not alone of course – everyone from Ed Miliband to Rupert Murdoch’s opinion on the subject has changed over recent weeks – but as with many other people it does make uncomfortable reading.
At Mayor’s Question Time on 15 September 2010, Boris said:
“I am completely satisfied” [with the way the Met had handled allegations of phone tapping by News International]
“I think it is patently politically motivated”
“I think it looks like a politically motivated put up job”
“You [Assembly member Joanne McCartney] are trying to make a song and dance about nothing”
“This is a load of codswallop cooked up by the Labour Party”
To be fair to Boris, he does also say that “If there is new and important facts that are brought into the public domain that substantively affect this, then, I imagine that they [the Met] will want to reconsider their decision about investigations.” Clearly this has been the case and ongoing investigations are continuing.
Phone hacking isn’t going to disappear anytime soon. However, a swift change of stance by almost everyone has been necessary, including the Prime Minister. His relationship with Andy Coulson and other News International executives has been called into question over recent days and the odds of him being forced to step down are shortening by the day. And the favourite to replace him as leader of the Conservative Party? One Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson…..