All this sunshine is going to our heads. In Albert’s case that is literally true, my old pal looks like a peeled onion. I sometimes wonder if our jaundiced view of the British weather is based on comparisons resulting from the new age of package holidays plus a few rose-tinted memory banks. Did we really ever have whole summers of burning sunshine, did Harold Wilson really smoke his pipe non-stop? Either way, we have enjoyed the past week of leisurely work minus raincoats and wellies. The strange thing is that the ultimate effect though is to create tensions. In our case they amount to little more than who owns which spade, but up on high the fall-out is rather more significant.
Yesterday the strains between the coalition and the police surfaced in dramatic style. One suspects that The top Knackers at the Yard are more than a little miffed at the hammering they are receiving over their close social links with the Murdoch clan. Of course they were unwise, but the fact that they regularly bumped into the prime minister at whoop-ups organised by his friend Rebekah Brooks probably has them muttering about one rule for them and another for us.
Be that as it may, senior officers opened up on Cameron yesterday. A few days ago he suggested that it might be wise to bring in senior policemen from abroad. Presumably he meant America rather than Afghanistan, but either way the president of the Association of Chief Police Officers, Sir Hugh Orde, weighed in. The idea that you can ship someone in from another country to run a police force in a different environment and a different culture is, said Sir Hugh, “simply stupid”. Another potential candiudate for the Met commissionership, Sara Thompson, currently chief constable of Thames Valley, asked whether Cameron’s plan was “an expedient response to events”. In other words was it merely Cameron’s way of deflecting attention from his own close involvement with the Murdochs.
So that’s a couple of peerages down the pan. But they probably don’t care given that there will soon be more peers than plain Misters. What they clearly do feel strongly about is the way in which blame for improper hob-knobbing and corruption has shifted from politicians to the law. In truth of course both are equally culpable.
And today comes yet another appalling reminder of the low-life with which Cameron – and sometimes, Miliband – chose to spend his leisure hours. We now learn that Sara Payne, whose eight-year old daughter Sarah was abducted and murdered in July 2000, has been told by Scotland Yard that she was targeted by the News of the World investigator Glenn Mulcare, who specialised in hacking voicemail.
One of the most glowing encomia in the final edition of the tabloid came from Sara Payne. She proudly announced that rumours of her having been a hacking victim were untrue, and heaped praise on the paper’s staff. They had become “very good and trusted friends” she said. Friends of Payne say that she had come to accept the NoW as a friend and ally. Journalists from the paper attended the funerals of her parents, and visited her after she suffered a severe stroke in 2009. Mr Cameron’s friend, Rebekah Brooks, has described Payne as a “dear friend” and ran a campaign in support of ‘Sarah’s law’, a plan to “out” paedophiles.
It now appears that the grieving family were being spied on. Just how low can any human being get? Once again we are told that no one senior at the News of the World knew anything about this. But this time there is a difference. Arrests have been made and a heavily manned team of top detectives is carrying out the sort of detailed investigation that should have occurred on the watch of the departed Yates.
Who knows what will emerge from this odious and tangled web. But one thing is for sure. Should David Cameron found to be even remotely implicated, he can expect no favours from those who have branded him stupid!
ANSWERS TO YESTERDAY’S QUIZ; 1. Corrs 2. Arsenal 3. Indian 4. Foot 5. American 6. Extinct 7. Card game 8. Estonia 9. Tango 10. Yellow