Alex Salmond shouldn't touch Rupert Murdoch with a bargepole, says MP Tom Watson
By Tom Watson
I WOULDN’T touch Rupert Murdoch with a bargepole if I was Alex Salmond.
The man has presided over a media empire which has bent and broken the rules so that he could make money and have enormous power and influence.
Politicians have got caught up with him along the way but now most have learned their lesson.
I can understand why many, including in my own party, tried to win favour with Murdoch. Those who remember the 1992 election can’t forget the ruthless way he attacked Labour leader Neil Kinnock.
But now the illegality and wrongdoing of the Murdoch empire is being exposed.
They hacked phones on an industrial scale. They paid police officers. Ordinary people had their lives turned over by Murdoch’s goons.
Now the world has woken up to the fact that the Murdoch empire is an evil one. Now even David Cameron avoids his champagne parties. So why would Salmond rush into the gap and befriend Murdoch?
I don’t mind admitting that a decade ago, as a new MP, a tiny part of me admired Salmond’s cheeky grin when speaking truth to power at Westminster. We’ve disagreed on much since then but I was shocked to read of his close relationship with Murdoch.
Murdoch’s company are facing a police investigation in Strathclyde, three in London, one parliamentary inquiry, dozens of claims in the civil courts and scrutiny from the tax man.
For decades, Murdoch has operated a divide and rule strategy with the political parties. All – mine included – were foolish enough to get close to him.
From Margaret Thatcher onwards, he got more powerful – so powerful that his employees thought they were untouchable.
And when organisations get too powerful, bad things can happen, as we’ve seen.
That’s why I can’t believe that Salmond invites Murdoch round for tea and a caramel wafer – oh, and the offer of a multi-million-pound tax break.
It’s said Murdoch’s new support for independence is an act of vengeance against the United Kingdom because the courts have the temerity to be investigating him.
I don’t believe in Scotland leaving the UK – but even for those who do, the idea that Murdoch would move his empire here is hardly a good sign.
Salmond has long ridiculed politicians who seemed to be in thrall to the rich and powerful.
Now he’s repeating those mistakes in spades. Fred Goodwin and Donald Trump – they have both had the red carpet treatment from Salmond.
But now it’s got worse. A lot worse.
At last the UK establishment have woken up to the damage which Murdoch has been doing for decades. At last there are real attempts to expose him for what he is and to clean up the UK media.
It would be terrifying if Salmond decides to chum up with him and try to let him off the hook.
Scotland can’t be turned into a refuge for Murdoch just because he can give Salmond some good headlines in return.
We need to have a proper, honest debate about Scotland’s place in the UK in the run-up to the referendum. That debate can’t be contaminated by Murdoch’s desire for vengeance.
It says something dreadful about the Scotland he wants to create if Salmond is happy to sup with Rupert Murdoch.
My advice, for what it’s worth? Don’t sup with a long spoon, Alex – don’t sup at all.