By Roger Bagley in in the British parliament:
Skinner gives stand-in Clegg a mauling
Wednesday 14 March 2012
Veteran Labour MP Dennis Skinner unhorsed Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg in the Commons on Wednesday over links between top Tories and the scandal-gripped Murdoch media empire.
Amid uproar at Question Time, Mr Skinner demanded that Mr Clegg must come clean and say “man to man what does he really think” about Prime Minister David Cameron’s involvement.
Mr Skinner scathingly referred to “the Prime Minister riding a borrowed police horse” and asked: “Doesn’t it really stink to high heaven?”
He declared that he was giving Mr Clegg “a chance to shine” while Cameron and his “gang” were away on a visit to the US.
Labour members jeered when the Lib Dem leader failed to give a reply as he stood in at the despatch box for the absent PM.
Mr Clegg funked the question by referring simply to Mr Skinner’s 42 years as an MP, adding politely: “I am delighted to see that in all that time he has not mellowed one bit.”
Mr Skinner told the Star afterwards: “I wanted an answer, but I didn’t get one. I gave him a chance to separate himself from the Tories.
“This is a scandal that surrounds Cameron and the Tory leadership. It took two days for Downing Street to admit that the PM had ridden the horse borrowed from the Met Police.
“This sordid saga involves millionaire’s row hand-in-glove with the Murdoch empire.”
Mr Skinner’s Commons skirmish with Mr Clegg came just a day after former News International chief executive Ms Brooks and her race-horse trainer husband Charlie were arrested in dawn raids.
The two friends and neighbours of Mr Cameron were held on suspicion of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice and questioned for around 12 hours.
Afterwards, many MPs congratulated Mr Skinner, whose nationwide fame has grown since Mr Cameron foolishly called him a “dinosaur.”
Labour MP Ian Lavery said: “This is a huge national scandal. How many times do certain people need to be arrested before we get to the truth?
“Clegg was given an opportunity before the eyes of the world to distance himself from the scandal. But he refused to do it.
“There is only one answer to this and that is a full-scale public inquiry into the Murdoch empire.”
New stage in Murdoch scandal as former News of the World editor Rebekah Brooks re-arrested: here.
- Cameron accused of misleading Leveson on Brooks friendship (theguardian.com)
- Rebekah Brooks – The mystery woman behind the Murdoch mess (nextlevelofnews.com)
- David Cameron’s conference speech proves that Land of Hope and Tory is no hope at all (mirror.co.uk)
- Daily Mail overflowing with bile about Britain, Nick Clegg says (theguardian.com)
- Rupert Murdoch’s second grilling by parliamentary committee postponed (theguardian.com)
- Nick Clegg voices doubts over Cameron’s bid to strip under-25s of benefits (telegraph.co.uk)