The Murdoch stench lingers around Salmond

The bad smell lingering around Scottish first minister Alex Salmond’s relationship with Rupert Murdoch gets worse and worse, reports Ed Jacobs.

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The bad smell lingering around Scottish first minister Alex Salmond’s relationship with Rupert Murdoch took a new twist yesterday as it emerged the SNP leader did indeed seek discussions with UK culture secretary Jeremy Hunt over News Corp’s bid to take over BSkyB.

Rupert-Murdoch-Alex-Salmond
With the now famous Frédéric Michel emails (pdf) having stated on February 11th 2011 that Salmond would “call Hunt whenever we need him”, it has now transpired Salmond began making such attempts to discuss the bid with Hunt a day after the email dated March 2nd was sent from Michel to James Murdoch confirming the Scottish Sun would be prepared to back the SNP in the Scottish Parliamentary elections.

This is despite Salmond’s continued insistence on BBC Radio Scotland on Monday there was no “quid pro quo” whereby he would support the takeover in return for support for his party in the Holyrood elections and his denial that he acted as an “undercover lobbyist” for the Murdoch’s.

Responding to a written parliamentary question tabled by shadow Scottish secretary Margaret Curran and published yesterday, Hunt explained in no uncertain terms:

“Mr Salmond’s office contacted mine to request a telephone call on 3 March 2011, and again a number of times in the following days. However, I can confirm that no such call took place or was ever scheduled.”

The development came as a majority report (pdf) from the culture, media and sport select committee declared on page 115:

“Rupert Murdoch is not a fit person to exercise the stewardship of a major international company.”

Furthermore, Labour’s vice chairman on the select committee and one of the most persistent campaigners in exposing the Murdoch empire, Tom Watson, has written to Alex Salmond calling on him to establish an inquiry by the Scottish Parliament into how and why MSPs had their phones hacked. It comes after the Sunday Mail north of the border broke the news that former Labour first minister, Jack McConell, and his children had had their phones hacked.

 


See also:

MPs attack Murdochs in damning report into phone-hacking 1 May 2012

McConnell sues News International as Labour call for inquiry into Salmond’s adviser 30 Apr 2012

Under-fire Salmond has “lost his sense of smell” over the “stench of Murdoch” 26 Apr 2012

Leveson: Salmond and the Lib Dems implicated in Murdoch emails 25 Apr 2012

Murdoch goes Salmond-fishing 3 Mar 2012

Salmond courts Murdoch 28 Feb 2012

The 25 questions over the SNP’s Murdoch links 19 Jul 2011


 

Meanwhile, the Daily Record yesterday reported Salmond’s own Parliamentary Aide, Joan McAlpine, also had her phone hacked by the now defunct News of the World.

Responding somewhat combatively to the report and calls for a separate inquiry in Scotland, Salmond declared:

“The question of who is a fit person to run a major news organisation should be judged by independent authorities, like Lord Leveson, and by the scrutiny of an independent statutory body like Ofcom, rather than a politically divided committee of MPs split on party lines.

“In terms of the suggestion of a separate Scottish inquiry, the Scottish justice system does not need any lectures from Tom Watson, who seems unaware of the fact that the Leveson Inquiry includes Scotland within its remit, and the fact that a Strathclyde Police special unit are currently investigating allegations of criminality in Scotland.

“That investigation will proceed wherever the evidence leads, without fear or favour, to ensure Scottish citizens are afforded the proper protection of the criminal law.

“And in Scotland, I am confident the criminal law will be upheld.”

The rhetoric and bluster, however, from the first minister, is now becoming more of a desperate attempt to deflect attention from the erosion of any credibility around his core argument his support for the BSkyB bid was about supporting the creation of jobs north of the border.

Firstly, if the jobs that would have come to Scotland as a result of a successful News Corp takeover bid were that important, why then did Salmond’s own Minister for Youth Employment, Angela Constance, then a humble backbench SNP MSP for Livingston, sign a Parliamentary motion in October 2010 calling on the UK government to:

“…oppose Rupert Murdoch’s attempt to increase his company’s share of BSkyB”

Similarly, why, if the BSkyB jobs were as necessary for Scotland as Salmond seems to suggest, did the SNP’s leader at Westminster, Angus Robertson, put his name to Labour’s motion on July 13th 2011 declaring:

“This House believes that it is in the public interest for Rupert Murdoch and News Corporation to withdraw their bid for BSkyB.”

Secondly, during First Minister’s Questions last week, Salmond hailed 900 jobs having been created in Glasgow by HEROtsc, Scotland’s leading customer management company, which he said were “expanding their contract to provide sales and service support to BSkyB”. The only problem is that none of these jobs were depended on News Corp gaining complete ownership of the broadcaster, given they were announced long after the Murdochs decided to drop their bid for BSkyB.

Indeed, it transpires that of the 900 jobs Salmond said had been “created”, 800 already existed having been transferred under TUPE legislation from working for “Response” to working for HEROtsc.

In calling for Salmond to make an urgent statement to the Scottish Parliament on the whole affair, Scottish Labour leader, Johann Lamont, has responded to the latest developments by declaring:

“Now only Alex Salmond and the SNP think that Rupert Murdoch is a fit and proper person to run newspapers and television companies in this country.

“We know that the first minister lobbied on Murdoch’s behalf – having first denied it, but Alex Salmond finally admitted it.

“We know that he is blocking the Scottish Parliament from having our own inquiry into phone-hacking – despite the fact Jack McConnell had his phone hacked while first minister.

“We know that Alex Salmond is refusing to say how his chief adviser Kevin Pringle was involved in his deal with Murdoch and doesn’t want him to give evidence on oath to the Leveson Inquiry.

“What we need to know is why Alex Salmond thinks that Rupert Murdoch is still a fit and proper person to run media in this country. We need to know why Alex Salmond thinks it is fit and proper for Scotland’s First Minister to lobby on his behalf.

“What we need is for the first minister to explain himself to the Scottish Parliament at the first opportunity.”

Along the same lines, Scottish Lib Dem leader Willie Rennie has argued:

“It is strange day when Mr Salmond is happy to let Westminster run with the ball on something that affects Scotland.

“In the last few days we have learned that phone hacking reached the very top of government in Scotland. It is right and proper that the Scottish Parliament has the opportunity to look into the phone hacking scandal in its own way and in its own time.

“Mr Salmond should try not to let the serious questions he is facing over his own links with Rupert Murdoch cloud his judgement. He should reconsider his position in the interests of full transparency.”

 


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28 Responses to “The Murdoch stench lingers around Salmond”

  1. Lord Kennedy

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  2. Shamik Das

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  4. Ed Jacobs

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  5. Political Planet

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  6. Daniel Vockins

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  7. Mabel Horrocks

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  8. Jason Kay

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  9. bob woods

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  10. Anonymous

    Another rehash of a story. What’s the matter LFF, not enough comments on the original story?

    The facts are, Salmond met Murdoch and pushed for jobs to come to Scotland. It also seems like Kevin Pringle offered to lobby the Westminster governemnt on the BSkyB bid, although it’s not very clear how he would have done this. Even supposing Salmond had done some lobbying, wouldn’t it have come out by now? The Tories would LOVE to put this in the public arena if it had happened! If the Red Rose Tories had their way, the parly would debate nothing but their inane complaints in which ABSOLUTELY NONE have stood up to scrutiny!

    As for Salmond meeting Murdoch, sometimes you gotta sup with the devil to get jobs. Previous Labour FMs did it regularly. As to Pringle, he shouldn’t have done it and should fall on his sword.

    And for Johann Lamont (or, Rosa Klebb, as she’s known here) to start calling for inquiries, well that’s a bit rich! How about an inquiry into how Glasgow has been run by Labour for the past 50 years? Where has the money gone? Who was responsible for the nepotism in “arms length” companies? Who knew about the cocaine culture in George Square and why didn’t they call Inspector McKnacker?

    Labour is a beaten force in Scotland. Sure, they’ll hold on to some seats at the locals, but they’ll lose many more. There is only one left leaning party capable of running Scotland now and it sure as hell ain’t Labour!

  11. Gerard

    A raw nerve is certainly exposed and being aggravated here!

    Wee Eck has NOT answered these questions – How many jobs was he promised would come to Scotland/be protected in Scotland if the Murdochs took over BskyB?

    All we know is that the deal collapsed and no jobs have been lost.

    Your ‘positive’ references to Johann will, I’m sure, give a little insight into the mindset of SNP supporters for those who are unfamiliar to them.

    If Pringle and Aberdain should go should Alex Salmond not also be under pressure as he has to accept responsibility for the actions of his staff and civil servants?

    Why are the SNP not pushing for Alex Salmond to step down? – remember how they hounded Wendy Alexander, Frank McAveety, Henry McLeish from their jobs? The SNP have no strength in depth and so can’t afford to drop any of their frontbench.

    Also on the left leaning thing: how is it left leaning to support a massive reduction in corporation tax, support a council tax freeze which is regressive, underfund concessionary travel forcing buses off the road and fares up on others to make up the shortfall, support massive reductions to Further Education budgets, support undermining local democracy etc etc

  12. Anonymous

    So the SNP hounded all these LAbour people from their jobs? Well michty me, I didn’t realise the SNP were that strong!

    It is leaning to the left if a reduction in corporation tax results in jobs for the unemployed. It is left leaning to employ a council tax freeze so that people pay less (you conveniently forgot to add that that the government covers the losses). As for the cuts in concessionary travel, didn’t you hear that London had cut the pocket money to Scotland? And has concessionary travel been cut? No, it hasn’t! The buses still have to run and they don’t run on concessionary travel alone. Perhaps you also failed to notice that fuel has jumped in price? Perhaps you also failed to notice that the buses coming off the road are the ones that don’t make a big profit for the private operators?

    As regards FE budgets, are kids at FE colleges getting an education or are they just there to keep them off the unemployment lists? Again, as the money from London is cut, Edinburgh must cut somewhere to remain in balance. And perhaps you can also let us know how local democracy is being undermined?

    From your reply, it sounds like all you need to do at the referendum is vote “yes” and all your financial worries will be over.

    Just as a matter of interest, just in case you’ve been depending on the BBC for your news, try this:

    //newsnetscotland.com/index.php/scottish-opinion/4877-the-leveson-emails-salmond-and-bbc-scotlands-coverage

    I doubt you will, as it will burst your wee dependent on London bubble, but it might let some people see what’s happening here!

  13. BevR

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  14. vkellywallace

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  20. David Mills

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  21. Debbie Abrahams

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  22. Ian Alex Blease

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  23. Nanny

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  26. Shamik Das

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  28. Gus Jackson

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