How Brooks tried to destroy the Guardian

How is this phone hacking thing going to end? Rebekah Brooks: "With Alan Rusbridger on his knees, be

Rebekah Brooks said that the phone-hacking scandal would end with Guardian editor "Alan Rusbridger on his knees, begging for mercy", according to Nick Davies in this week's Media Talk podcast over at the Guardian. Davies continues: "They would have destroyed us. If they could have done, they would have shut down the Guardian."

Elsewhere in the podcast, Rusbridger talks about the resistence to covering the scandal from within Fleet Street. "I was told from time to time that this was not helpful for Fleet Street," said Rusbridger. "The only thing that was going to damage Fleet Street was the failure to deal with this seriously. If the PCC had acted in 2009. . . then I think the News of the World would still be alive."

The general gist of the podcast is: "Ha, ha, we were right!" You can hardly blame them. People who should know better repeatedly told the Guardian that they were on a hiding to nothing, and yet we are now staring at a scandal that has brought down Britain's most read newspaper, revealed widespread corruption in the police and shaken the Prime Minister. The Guardian deserves its moment in the sun.

Listen to the whole podcast here.

Photo: Getty
Show Hide image

What Jeremy Corbyn gets right about the single market

Technically, you can be outside the EU but inside the single market. Philosophically, you're still in the EU. 

I’ve been trying to work out what bothers me about the response to Jeremy Corbyn’s interview on the Andrew Marr programme.

What bothers me about Corbyn’s interview is obvious: the use of the phrase “wholesale importation” to describe people coming from Eastern Europe to the United Kingdom makes them sound like boxes of sugar rather than people. Adding to that, by suggesting that this “importation” had “destroy[ed] conditions”, rather than laying the blame on Britain’s under-enforced and under-regulated labour market, his words were more appropriate to a politician who believes that immigrants are objects to be scapegoated, not people to be served. (Though perhaps that is appropriate for the leader of the Labour Party if recent history is any guide.)

But I’m bothered, too, by the reaction to another part of his interview, in which the Labour leader said that Britain must leave the single market as it leaves the European Union. The response to this, which is technically correct, has been to attack Corbyn as Liechtenstein, Switzerland, Norway and Iceland are members of the single market but not the European Union.

In my view, leaving the single market will make Britain poorer in the short and long term, will immediately render much of Labour’s 2017 manifesto moot and will, in the long run, be a far bigger victory for right-wing politics than any mere election. Corbyn’s view, that the benefits of freeing a British government from the rules of the single market will outweigh the costs, doesn’t seem very likely to me. So why do I feel so uneasy about the claim that you can be a member of the single market and not the European Union?

I think it’s because the difficult truth is that these countries are, de facto, in the European Union in any meaningful sense. By any estimation, the three pillars of Britain’s “Out” vote were, firstly, control over Britain’s borders, aka the end of the free movement of people, secondly, more money for the public realm aka £350m a week for the NHS, and thirdly control over Britain’s own laws. It’s hard to see how, if the United Kingdom continues to be subject to the free movement of people, continues to pay large sums towards the European Union, and continues to have its laws set elsewhere, we have “honoured the referendum result”.

None of which changes my view that leaving the single market would be a catastrophe for the United Kingdom. But retaining Britain’s single market membership starts with making the argument for single market membership, not hiding behind rhetorical tricks about whether or not single market membership was on the ballot last June, when it quite clearly was. 

Stephen Bush is special correspondent at the New Statesman. His daily briefing, Morning Call, provides a quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics.