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Day: July 14, 2011

Long-term the Lib Dems (and Vince Cable) will come up smelling of roses on the phone-hacking saga.

I think everyone should read this excellent piece in The Guardian by Julian Astle entitled Phone-hacking scandal shows why Britain needs the Liberal Democrats.

The article doesn’t just show why the Lib Dems are a good force in this country but it also shows how the party might come out of this phone hacking situation smelling of roses. There is little doubt that as it stands Ed Miliband is looking the best out of the three leaders on this and the Labour Party seem to be leading the fight against the Murdoch’s but there are many twists and turns and one thing is generally expected throughout the political community – there is no mud to stick on the Lib Dems but Labour may end up covered in the brown stuff just like the Tories.

Lord Ashdown is widely respected and has long battled the Murdoch Empire. Nick Clegg is less respected at this current juncture but it is clear he was never a Murdoch fan and as for Vince Cable, his now infamous words about ‘declaring war on Murdoch will not come back to haunt him but will instead come back to restore him to prominence and restore the public’s faith in both him and the party he represents. It was embarrassing at the time without a doubt but now it shows that his true feelings and not only that – those true feelings were reflected by his party but are now also truly reflected by the electorate.

His unabashed opinion on Murdoch and his media organisation has now been fully vindicated and whilst this isn’t a partisan subject in the long run it will be. Every party will try and distance themselves from Murdoch but the Lib Dems already cover that ground and if they can show the electorate that they were always there and the Tories and most vocally Labour are only in that ground because that is where public opinion is then this could well be the fillip that the party needs at both local and national level. Tuition Fees is an issue but time and politics change and today the biggest and most important story is News International and Murdoch and on that issue it is the Lib Dems who will come up smelling of roses.

Remember folks that Ed Miliband would have sacked Vince Cable for speaking out against Murdoch and he is very much on record saying so. Six months is a long time and suddenly Vince Cable was right but Ed Miliband can’t bring himself to say so. If he did then suddenly the shining light would be very much on the MP for Twickenham. I wish we had heard more from Vince Cable right now but it seems as though the party are sitting back and waiting. Labour could sink themselves if more revelations come to light that they curried favour with Murdoch not only under the Blair and Brown governments but even in opposition. If it does then Labour’s credibility on this issue will be shot and the Lib Dems can ascend and take the moral high ground – something they do quite naturally it must be said.

So the phone hacking saga may be the best thing that happened to the party since they voted for – and were vocally against – the War in Iraq. However if it is to be that then it is going to be a long-term issue. The Lib Dems cannot be tainted by Rupert Murdoch and the longer and more deplorable the allegations against Murdoch and his company get then the better the party that wanted to take them on look.

Ed Miliband and Labour look great now but there isn’t an election tomorrow and there is plenty of muck left to air and none of it is going to be on the clothes of any Lib Dems. It cannot be safely stated that the same will be true for Ed Miliband or his party. As for the Tories…they are very much in crisis avoidance mode. It won’t get pretty for them and how they deal with this will say a lot both about their fortunes in 2015 and how David Cameron is perceived by history.

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