Since we are to have a Judicial Inquiry into the wicked Press, shouldn’t we also have one into wicked politicians?
Journalists can be nasty, and newspapers beastly, but their misdeeds are as nothing set beside those of governments.
Governments also hack into phones, poke their noses into our personal affairs and misuse the information they obtain.
Governments break up families in secret and hold increasing numbers of trials in secret, too. Governments sell information about us to outsiders.
The state records our emails, spies on our rubbish bins and uses airport X-ray machines to peer sneakily at our naked bodies.
It knows what we earn and where we live and monitors our medical records. It takes an increasingly creepy interest in what we think and say.
No doubt politicians claim that these actions are justified. But who is to know, especially in a country with a weakened Press?
However, these are minor crimes when set beside the other things governments do. Newspapers don’t bomb Belgrade or Baghdad or Tripoli, or invade Afghanistan and then forget why they did it.
Newspapers don’t waterboard people, or bundle them off to clandestine prisons. Newspapers don’t release hundreds of convicted terrorists on to the streets nor thousands of convicted ordinary criminals either.
Newspapers don’t open our frontiers to hundreds of thousands of unchecked migrants.
But you may – rightly – say: What about the newspapers that have helped governments do some or all of these things?
And here I will agree with you. The proper relationship between the Press and the government is the same as the one between a dog and a lamppost.
Yet the Murdoch Press slobbered for years at the feet of the Blair government. They had a price. The Murdoch empire wanted Britain to go to war, in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The grotesque screeching of lies that stampeded us into these wars was a joint operation between News International and the dark heart of Alastair Campbell’s Downing Street.
Then, when New Labour sagged, the same deal was on offer to anyone else cynical enough to accept it. I have never forgotten October 2, 2009, when David Cameron paid his first instalment to Rupert Murdoch, in return for his papers’ support in the coming Election.
He promised a closer engagement in Afghanistan – ‘If I’m Prime Minister, Whitehall will go to war from minute one, hour one, day one that I walk through the door of Downing Street.’
He made other promises, driven by public opinion. But nobody, in September 2009, wanted us to get deeper into Afghanistan. Nobody, that is, except Mr Murdoch.
In short, Mr Cameron was quite ready (as he has since proved) to send people to their deaths in Helmand and to allow many more to be maimed for life, to secure the support of The Sun during the Election campaign. This was one pledge he unequivocally kept.
From that moment, I decided that Mr Cameron was personally disgusting as well as politically wretched. I think paying for office with the blood and limbs of other people is quite a lot worse than hacking into Milly Dowler’s phone, even if it isn’t illegal.
And I’d like to hear Mr Cameron’s account – on oath – of the negotiations that led to this bargain.
Just as I’d like to hear Anthony Blair’s account – on oath – of what he promised these people and what role they played in the carnage he unleashed in Iraq.
Instead we get an investigation into the Press. Haven’t we got things a little out of proportion?