Vindictive Watson couldn’t resist aiming one last kick

Tom Watson MP
Tom Watson MP
Picture: Ian Hargreaves

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That dull, rasping noise you heard while members of the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee were delivering their verdict on Rupert Murdoch was the sound of an axe being ground.

Perched at the whetstone was Labour MP Tom Watson, who has been waging a bitter feud against both father and son for a long time.

This is the man, you may recall, who told James Murdoch he must be the first Mafia boss in history who didn’t know he was running a criminal enterprise.

It was a sound-bite he’d been working on for a long time during the investigation into phone hacking.

Unfortunately, the member for West Bromwich East is not blessed with the most subtle of intellects. This meant he failed to realise (or didn’t care) that what many perceive as the crassness of the remark detracted from, rather than enhanced, an official inquiry into one of the most egregious scandals in British newspaper history.

For a fleeting moment, it actually allowed Murdoch jr to adopt the forlorn and unlikely air of the bullied rather than the bully.

Watson was back to his point-scoring worst again this week when the select committee finally revealed its findings.

This was an occasion when the facts not only spoke for themselves – they bellowed very loudly indeed. It was confirmed the Murdochs had presided ineptly over a corrupt cabal at the News of the World, and that some of their senior executives had misled parliament.

These facts in themselves were devastatingly harmful to News International and its parent company News Corporation – and you didn’t have to be a genius to read between the lines.

But Watson could not resist aiming one last kick, which I believe was borne out of personal vindictiveness and certainly did not have the unanimous backing of the committee.

Indeed, by adding the rider that Rupert Murdoch was not fit to run an international company, he exposed an unedifying party-political rift within the committee which detracted from the impact of its findings. But that’s the trouble with politicians. They will insist on bringing politics into everything.