Lallands Peat Worrier speculates that Alex Salmond may have been channeling the ghost of Major General John Sedgwick in a response to Scottish LibDem leader, Willie Rennie at First Minister’s Questions on 8 March:
I do not know whether Willie Rennie managed to attend First Minister’s question time last week, when I reiterated and made absolutely clear my full support for the police investigations south and north of the border and my full support for the Leveson inquiry. Since the then Government did absolutely nothing about it, he should take on board the findings of operation Motorman. I promised last week that the document would be placed in the Scottish Parliament information centre, in case the identification by the information commissioner of potential criminality in respect of data protection had not been fully understood by members. I advise Willie Rennie to read the list, which extends across the London press—there are very few Scottish examples in the analysis. Every part of that document should be analysed, and we should support the police inquiries into phone hacking and the Leveson inquiry to the hilt.
It is perfectly true that a superficial reading of the stated scope of this inquiry shows a noted lack of Scottish newspapers and Scotland-based reporters, but only up to a point, Lord Leveson. As Rennie’s national Party has discovered, lack of mainstream interest prior to May 2010 in their MPs’ conduct was less due to higher levels of personal and professional probity than it was to their relative irrelevance to the politics of Government.
As soon as they entered Government, it was to be expected that their conduct was to become a source of interest from mainstream journalists and broadcast media.
Likewise, as Lallands suggests, under-representation of Scottish angles in the recent stramash over phone hacking, records blagging and so on should – for a kindly Pater familias keen to facilitate a more genteel atmosphere – not be eagerly taken as proof of industry-wide good conduct. Instead, presumption should be that domestic Scottish events just might not have been interesting enough for the “London press”.
Likewise, the Leveson Inquiry is being led by an English judge under English jurisdiction dealing with malpractice in England; especially the subversion of the Metropolitan Police. As such, although mention may be made of attempts to blag the records of a sitting Prime Minister’s sick child from the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary the focus is not going to be on parochial Scottish events.
There should be no reason, however, as Lallands says, that Scottish bodies should not pursue their own semi-official inquiries into the print media which is not a reserved matter under Devolution. Especially considering the unfortunate timing of Salmond’s apparent certainty that the Information Commission’s Operation Motorman has broadly acquitted the Scottish print media which has been followed by an article in the most recent Sunday Herald focusing on the Scottish angles to this investigation.
To that, I will add attempts by a Scottish newspaper to accuse 18 and 19 year olds who were behaving on the Internet like 18 and 19 year olds of dishonoring their murdered classmates.
Failure to appreciate this may well be the reason, as Tom Watson has said, that Salmond is perhaps the only political leader trying to curry favour with News International.