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Blairites party with Murdochs, 24 hours before Milly Dowler story broke

After Ed Miliband’s most successful week as Labour leader in which his bold and forceful stance against corrupt and depraved practices has brought the Murdoch empire to its knees, the Blairites, always too fond of fraternising with the rich and famous, have put those efforts in jeopardy. According to the Mail on Sunday, only 24 hours before the Milly Dowler phone-hacking story broke, they were wining and dining with the Murdochs and Tory ministers at “a party of decadent opulence and excess” at the 22-bedroom Cotswolds mansion of Eizabeth Murdoch and her husband, Matthew Freud. Labour Party members, even those on the right of the party, will be wondering how two Labour Shadow Cabinet members can justify attending such a party and whether they can now keep their positions.

According to Mail reporters:

As a jazz band played in the landscaped gardens of the £6  million property, Mr Freud, who was wearing leather trousers, greeted guests, including Education Secretary Michael Gove and Culture Minister Ed Vaizey. They drank champagne in the company of former Labour Cabinet Ministers Peter Mandelson, David Miliband, James Purnell and Douglas Alexander.

Steve Hilton, Mr Cameron’s shaven-headed policy guru, who was there with his forceful wife, Google communications chief Rachel Whetstone, was seen ‘laughing giddily’ across the political divide with Lord Mandelson and Mr Miliband.

At the centre of the throng, Elisabeth’s brother, James  Murdoch, the deputy chief operating officer of News Corp, was locked in conversation with Rebekah Brooks, who resigned on Friday as chief executive of News International.

Also present at the party was Tessa Jowell who arrived with her alegedly estranged husband, David Mills, who was an adviser to that other media tycoon, Silvio Berlusconi, and only escaped a 4½ year jail sentence for corruption on a technicality.  Tony Blair was also on the best of terms with Berlusconi, leading to the warning that “New Labour must recognise that Berlusconi is the devil.”

Ed Miliband has been exemplary in his actions against the Murdoch empire. It is tragic that a small number of leading Blairites should prejudice the party’s position in this way. Although at this point the full depths of phone-hacking had not emerged, Labour was already engaged in an attack on the Tories and News of the World, having already claimed the scalp of Andy Coulson.

Hob-nobbing with the rich and famous was one of the factors that alienated so many of Labour’s core voters from New Labour. The poor judgement of a couple of Shadow Cabinet members must not be allowed to prejudice its recovery.

11 Comments

  1. @Jon,

    This is simply ridiculous. The ‘exemplary’ Ed Miliband was at a Murdoch party a month before the story broke. This kind of selective historiography that we don’t need.

  2. Elizabeth says:

    Oh pur-lease! Quoting the Daily Mail in evidence? The quotes that you’ve selected sound as if the Mail were just jealous (although obviously they had to have been there to have witnessed the ‘decadent’ scenes they were describing, surely?) And to the Mail anything that is stronger than a tea party is decadent opulence and excess.

    Admittedly leather trousers wouldn’t be my choice for a garden party (for me or my partner) but just because people were quaffing champagne on the lawn does not make it some sort of Roman orgy.

  3. Jon Lansman says:

    Nonsense, Darrell. There’s the world of difference between a News International corporate party or reception of the sort they hold at all party conferences too, and a private all-night party at the mansion of Elizabeth Murdoch.

  4. Nope there isn’t Jon and Ed even admitted this himself, the fact is we should not be using this in a factional way because it fails to address the wider corruption of the entire political system by the influence of Murdoch; no saints and sinners, mostly sinners I am afraid. Murdoch should be banned from the Labour Party conference and if he isnt it proves the point its an ineffective war.

  5. Oh yes, and if I am not very much mistaken did not Tom Watson make this *exact same point*….

  6. Red Rag says:

    The shit News International is in is about to hit another level….http://redrag1.blogspot.com/2011/07/red-rag-just-when-murdoch-thinks-it.html

  7. john says:

    http://rt.com/usa/news/murdoch-bribe-scandal-corp/

    Things aren’t getting any better for Rupert Murdoch. As new reports surfaced today against him, yet more scandal is being pinned on his News Corp. media empire, including now a bribe involving News Corp, the Chamber of Commerce and – more bribes.

  8. HarpyMarx says:

    “Nonsense, Darrell. There’s the world of difference between a News International corporate party or reception of the sort they hold at all party conferences too, and a private all-night party at the mansion of Elizabeth Murdoch.”

    Sorry Jon, but what is the difference? I really don’t think there’s a “world of difference”. Just seeing the word “corporate” says it all for me. Both are initiated by the Murdoch empire for individuals to worship at the altar of Rupert. Also, what does it say about your independence and integrity if you appear at any party instigated by a Murdoch whether it’s at some conference or at the Freud’s “opulent” pad. There isn’t any difference, like Darrell argues.

    It also shows just how pathetic politicians are, including Mister Ed, who feel the need to rub shoulders with newspaper barons who have no qualms attacking the working class, demonising asylum seekers, vilifying benefit “scroungers”, indulge in casual racism, homophobia and sexism….

    ….But then when has Mister Ed stuck his head over the parapet and defended the working class? Never. Though it’s easy for Ed to attack NI as everyone else is and it’s safety in numbers.

    Where was Ed when lone MPs where trying to investigate the dirty digger? Where was Ed when it mattered to take a stand when individual MPs were smeared for doing their job?

    It’s easier to speak out now as the gloss on the Murdoch empire is becoming tarnished by the day, and it’s also great to indulge in some cynical politics where you capture the mood of the public, that’s not bravery that’s just following a crowd. And even when NI was being investigated from the start of this year, Mister Ed was at a Murdoch party. Says it all!

    With Murdoch’s power slipping away maybe Ed can finally show some courage in sticking up for the working class. Some how I don’t think that will happen soon.

  9. Jon Lansman says:

    “The word “corporate” says it all for me.”

    Therein lies the problem of your analysis, Harpy. Any contact is worshipping at their altar, whatever the context, whatever the frequency, whatever the purpose.

    The fact is that, in government and in opposition (and for that matter in collective bargaining), unlike at demonstrations and on picket lines, we have to engage with the corporates, with the Tories, and with their defenders in the media. We have to be clear about our objectives, it has to be purposeful and relevant, not for personal pleasure of gain, but it has to happen.

    New Labour, however, was different. For the first time in Labour’s history, an entire political current (as opposed to self-serving individuals of which there has been a long line) demonstrated their shared values, shared ideology, shared sense of entitlement, by dining with them partying with them, holidaying at their villas and on their yachts, and occasionally having to take out loans to keep up with the cost of imitating their lifestyle.

    For all his mistakes, I don’t believe Gordon Brown was part of that, and nor do I believe is Ed Miliband now. And in spite of his mistakes, like his failure to support the strikes on 30 June, Ed was not “following a crowd”, he was leading it, as Owen Jones most eloquently put it here, and doing so against the protests of Blairites in his shadow cabinet.

  10. Jon Lansman says:

    And the full list of Ed M’s meetings with proprietors, editors and senior media executives is now published here. And it looks quite proportionate to me:

    Tues 28 September 2010
    Richard Wallace (Daily Mirror)
    Manchester
    Labour Party Conference 2010

    Tues 28 September 2010
    Colin Myler (News of the World)
    Manchester
    Labour Party Conference 2010

    Tues 28 September 2010
    James Harding (Times)
    Manchester
    Labour Party Conference 2010

    Tues 28 September 2010
    Dominic Mohan (The Sun)
    Manchester
    Labour Party Conference 2010

    Tues 28 September 2010
    News International Conference Reception
    Manchester
    Labour Party Conference 2010

    Tues 28 September 2010
    Mirror Conference Party Manchester
    Labour Party Conference 2010

    Thurs 07 October 2010
    Archie Norman (ITV)
    London
    General discussion

    Thurs 28 October 2010
    Bruce Waddell (Daily Record)
    Scotland
    General discussion

    Mon 01 November 2010
    Lobby Reception
    London
    Reception

    Thurs 04 November 2010
    John Mullin (Independent on Sunday)
    London
    General discussion

    Tues 07 December 2010
    Lionel Barber (Financial Times)
    London
    General discussion

    Wed 15 December 2010
    Sun Military Awards Reception and Dinner
    London
    Awards Ceremony

    Monday 20 December 2010
    Alan Rusbridger (Guardian)
    London
    General discussion

    Tues 21 December 2010
    James Harding (The Times)
    London
    General discussion

    Monday 31 January 2011
    Tony Gallagher (Daily Telegraph)
    London
    General discussion

    Wed 02 February 2011
    Dominic Mohan (The Sun)
    London
    General discussion

    Thurs 03 February 2011
    Jason Cowley (New Statesman)
    London
    General discussion

    Thurs 10 February 2011
    Jason Cowley & Spencer Neal (New Statesman)
    London
    General discussion

    Wed 16 February 2011
    Geordie Greig (Evening Standard)
    London
    General discussion

    Thurs 03 March 2011
    Lloyd Embley (The People)
    London General discussion

    Thurs 17 March 2011
    Sly Bailey, Neil Benson and regional editors (Trinity Mirror)
    London
    General discussion

    Mon 28 March 2011
    Graeme Huston (Doncaster Free Press)
    London
    General discussion

    Tues 12 April 2011
    30 Club Speech
    London
    Speech

    Tues 03 May 2011
    Simon Kelner and Evgeny Lebedev (Independent/Evening Standard)
    London
    General discussion

    Mon 09 May 2011
    Richard Wallace (Daily Mirror)
    London
    General discussion

    Thurs 09 June 2011
    Colin Myler (News of the World)
    London
    General discussion

    Wed 15 June 2011
    Sly Bailey, Tina Weaver (The Mirror) Simon Kelner (The Independent) Richard Wallace (Daily Mirror)
    London
    Social (Richard Wallace Birthday Party)

    Thurs 16 June 2011
    News International Summer Party
    London
    Reception

    Fri 17 June 2011
    Alan Rusbridger (The Guardian)
    London
    Social

    Tues 21 June 2011
    Times CEO Summit
    London
    Speech

    Thurs 14 July 2011
    John Witherow (Sunday Times)
    London
    General discussion

    Thurs 14 July 2011
    Lobby Reception
    London
    Reception

  11. Iain says:

    These Blairites and their supporters must be expunged from Labour before it can ever be taken seriously again. No more heartfelt pleas to D Milibanana to return – expel him, and his acolytes.

    I hold no real affection for Kinnock, but where is the leader of stature and courage to do what he did to the Militants?

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