What Abbott, Ashby, Pyne and Brough seem not to understand is the ‘not a fit person’ judgment of the Commons ends for a while, and makes unfashionable, the Rupert Murdoch way of doing things, which is change of government through sexual scandal, or destruction of social democrat leaders through sexual smear.
Jim Cairns, Gary Hart, John Brogden, Lord Puttnam, Don Dunstan, Cheryl Kernot, Andrew Bartlett, Jackie Smith, John Edwards, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Matt Brown, Tony Stewart, John Della Bosca, Paul McLeay and Elliot Spitzer were brought down in this way, nearly all by Murdoch; and Bill Clinton, Troy Buswell, Harold Macmillan, Harold Wilson, Jeremy Thorpe, Mike Rann, Prince Charles, Prince Andrew, Princess Diana, Ted Kennedy, Cecil Parkinson, John Prescott, John Major, Edwina Currie gravely damaged; and John Kennedy, Hugh Gaitskell, Nye Bevan, Bob Boothby, Hugh Dalton, Stalin, Bertold Brecht and Mao Zedong posthumously besmirched.
But the fashion has changed and after the Hacking Scandal it is no longer acceptable that Press Lords — Hearst, Northcliffe, Black, Goldsmith, Packer, Murdoch — tweak politics in this way, or even amusing any more when they try it on. It is wrong, not shrewd, or good fun, to ruin careers with minor incidents in private lives that have no bearing on policy or ability to make good speeches or initiate worthwhile public change.
So the present attack on the Speaker, the third most important official in the country, for sending suggestive texts, if that’s what they were, to an employee, and the curious thesis that he must resign because of them, is out of date now; as out of date now as a parallel thesis that Rupert Murdoch should resign because he wooed and married two of his employees, no doubt touching them unwelcomely in office hours for a minute or two, and he must lose his career and his legacy and his posterity and his legend for this loathesome use of his power.
That age is gone; and Abbott, Pyne and Brough do not understand this. They do not see that the Murdoch name is now as unseemly and stained and fouled as the name of Joe McCarthy in 1954, and, for a while at least, if I may use the adjective of the month, ‘toxic’. And anyone who stoops to his methods — peeping, snooping, hacking, bugging, forging private conversations, and the unspoken blackmail in the Hoover manner of public elected officials — will not prevail in the long run even if they win a Newspoll or two for a month or two by espousing this vile, pantie-sniffing way of doing things.
It is appropriate now for Abbott and Pyne and Brough to reveal what conversations they had in the last few months with Murdoch and the men who work for Murdoch about their upcoming political strategies and co-operative endeavours, and what reward they would give Murdoch if he helped them.
They should appear at a joint press conference and answer these questions live on television.
It is in the public interest and we have a right to know.