Anaylsis: SNP put in uncomfortable accord with the Tories
The crux of the culture committee’s report is that Rupert Murdoch is “not a fit person to exercise the stewardship of a major international company”.
This will now be turned into a question to be asked of every politician in the country. Labour and Liberal Democrat figures will most likely answer “no”, while Conservatives and the SNP will probably respond “yes”.
The trouble is that divided committees, just like divided parties, rarely achieve their goals. Although the verdict is a blow for the Murdoch empire in that it questions its founder’s integrity, a united front would have been much more damaging. As it stands, News International can point to Philip Davies’ statement that the “not a fit person” verdict is supported by “absolutely no evidence”.
What happens next is potentially even more uncomfortable for all those concerned. The committee says it intends to table a motion inviting the Commons to endorse its conclusions, which throws up the intriguing prospect of the SNP voting with the Conservatives. The last time Nationalists marched into the same lobby as Tories there was an almighty row, and another would surely discomfit SNP activists.
Since the First Minister rarely misses an opportunity to talk up Murdoch (“one of the most substantial figures in journalism”) and play down News International’s role in the phone hacking scandal (“questions… relate to the industry, not one newspaper or company”), he’s unlikely to turn his back on the media tycoon just because a Commons committee has condemned him. After all, future Scottish “jobs and investment” are at stake.