Tom Peterkin: phone hacking shadow casts long shadow over local elections

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WITH the Leveson inquiry firmly established as the investigation that just keeps on producing headlines, there is little doubt that the phone-hacking scandal will cast a large shadow over today’s local election results.

With Alex Salmond’s relationship with Rupert Murdoch under intense scrutiny, his opponents hope that their friendship will hit the Nationalists at the polls.

Leveson is also unlikely to do any favours for the Tories, who have been reeling from allegations that the Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt misled the Commons when it came to News Corp’s attempted take-over of BSkyB.

With the Conservatives still struggling to make an impact north of the border, damaging headlines about links to Murdoch are the last thing Scottish candidates need.

Johann Lamont at Holyrood and Ed Miliband in the Commons have managed to make capital out of the SNP and the Tories’ controversial links to Murdoch. But it remains to be seen whether that will be reflected in a resurgence of the Labour vote.

South of the border Mr Miliband is enjoying a surge in popularity at the expense of David Cameron, whose standing has been damaged by a recent budget seen benefiting the rich.

In Scotland, Labour has the complication of having to deal with an SNP, which, despite recent Murdoch revelations, is still cook-a-hoop after its stunning victory in last year’s Scottish elections.