Friday, 9 September 2011

What does Downing Street know about Phonegate?

Best Blogger Tips
The Culture, Media and Sport's hearings into Phonegate revealed witnesses whose words and body language were filled with lies and crass arrogance.
Colin Myler and Tom Crone
Watching Colin Myler (Former Editor of the News of the World) and Tom Crone (Former Legal Manager at News International) on 6th September in front of the Committee demonstrated the worst behaviour of people caught in a lie and still trying to talk their way out of appalling actions by their employer and other employees. Trying to wheedle out of admitting they had mislead the Committee and parliament previously, Crone was reduced to arguing over the definitions of 'secret' and 'confidential'.
In the same way we had the haughty responses by some MPs caught stealing through the expenses system, greedy 'casino' bankers playing with the British economy like it was their own private bank and some police officers happily taking bribes, we saw individuals who would not accept that their past views were inconsistent and misleading to parliament and an utter failure to recognise the seriousness of phone hacking. Myler, Crone and others simply don't get it. Adopting the Nuremberg policy of 'we were only following orders' is pathetic. Looking at their faces you could see that they were going to fight tooth and nail in opposing inch by inch, the Committee's pursuit of the truth. Frankly, they were not believable witnesses and their words cannot be trusted.
Tom Watson MP in pursuit of exposing one of the  biggest conspiracies in the past century
On the other hand it was a pleasure watching Tom Watson MP in action tearing a part bit by bit the obfuscation. Tom has proved to be a doughty, terrier in pursuing the phone hacking and subsequent cover ups. He exudes the very finest qualities of the the best British parliamentarians. He deserves a medal for his pursuit of the truth of phone hacking and his refusal to go away when the Police, Solicitors and powerful media barons were telling him and the world that a single rogue operator was responsible for the phone hacking. Tom had rightly identified that the facts didn't stack up and sniffed out the leads and evidence to help blow open the affair.
Andy Coulson refusing to reappear at select committee
Andy Coulson has refused to appear before parliamentary committee
At least Crone and Myler did show up in front of the Committee, which is more than can be said for Andy Coulson desperately fighting against appearing before the Committee. Questions remain as to what he told David Cameron. Did he hint or give any sort of impression that he thought the phone hacking extended past Goodman and Mulcaire? Did Coulson send emails or correspondence setting out what happened during his period as News of the World Editorship? Will any of the enquiries get to see those emails, notes or letters? Was a civil servant present in the discussions between Coulson and Cameron about phone hacking? If so, there would be a record made of that conversation. If there was no civil servant present, why did Cameron avoid the usual practice on such a sensitive, serious and criminal matter? What kind of Prime Minister avoids making a record? Those records could ultimately place David Cameron in a compromised position.
David Cameron and Andy Coulson
What exactly did Coulson tell Cameron? Were records kept of their conversations?
God speed the Committee and the police enquiries to put behind bars all those involved in this disgraceful conspiracy. I hope that Fleet Street will clean up its act and eradicate the illegal practices where they thought they could freely wade through people's private lives. However, seeing the attitude of Crone and Myler, the Government will need to take steps to enforce that cultural change. You can't trust these type of people to genuinely make the changes needed. 
In the mean time, we are left wondering what records exist in Downing street about how much David Cameron knew about the extent of the phone hacking.

Obama throws down gauntlet to Republicans

Best Blogger Tips

An assertive President Obama set out his stall for Congress to back his American Jobs Act. The interesting part of that speech was the way it was delivered and the strong, resolute delivery of the speech. Here was a President facing a tough election battle as the economy has slowed and ground almost to a halt after previously showing signs of a recovery. But more than a simple desire to win, we saw Barack Obama demonstrating leadership and purpose which frankly has been missing at times as he has tried to grapple with the problems of the economy and the consistent right wing attacks by GOP contenders.
Vice President Joe Biden
A word of merit for Joe Biden who was just behind the President’s right shoulder at the Congressional speech; he is an unswerving, loyal lieutenant that has proven to be a first rate Vice President. He works tirelessly behind the scenes and backs the President to the hilt. He doesn't show signs of his own ambition or politicking to undermine the President. That is a rare example of what a Vice President should be. He was on his feet applauding the President and Obama can be sure that Biden will use his influence to try and bring Republicans on board to get the AJA through Congress. Nevertheless, it is certain to face a very difficult ride and given the strength of the Tea Party values amongst Republicans, the AJA may well fail to pass. If so, the Republicans will play into Obama's hands. On the other hand if they successfully amend the Bill to their liking they could turn it around as a weapon against the President, which could mean he has to veto his own Bill.
There are fourteen months to go before the presidential election and the President needs the economy to improve. The hard truth though is that his proposed jobs act will only give a mild stimulus to the US economy and the underlying problems of the energy deficit and the artificial weakening of the Chinese yuan remain. It is difficult to force the Chinese to alter their exchange rate policy and unless there is a readiness to damage the environment then changes to the energy deficit are limited (electric vehicle technology is being proposed as one answer to the problem) . America needs to create jobs and more wealth through making its economy therefore, more dynamic, flexible and productive. There is still time for the trend to change towards reducing unemployment and increasing the money in the wallet and purse of the average American but time is running out.
Governor Rick Perry
Whilst the Republicans should be coming down the final stretch ten yards ahead of the president remarkably the voters are reticent of the GOP contenders. Even Texas Governor Rick Perry can only manage a small lead in the polls and that is during his current honeymoon period before the full scrutiny of his policies and past has been put under the microscope.  
With some radical and even off the charts extreme policies being espoused by Perry on Social Security the field is still open for Romney or even Palin (if she finally enters the race, which I think she will) to take the primaries. 
 US Ambassador to China
Jon Huntsman Jr
The President needs to ratchet up improvements in the economy where he can, hope for a radical GOP candidate to face him in the election and he needs a bit of luck. If those three things happen then Obama has a reasonable chance of success. He is a powerful campaigner and remains the favourite to win a re-election (but by a tiny margin).
However, if a more sensible GOP candidate like Jon Huntsman was to pull off a miracle GOP nomination (he is polling around 1%) then I think Obama will lose. But with Rick Perry, Bachmann and Romney slugging it out that scenario of a centrist winning the nomination is not going to happen. Obama knows the GOP struggle of exposing weaknesses and extremes in the Republican candidates can only help his chances.