ALEX Salmond was last night urged to recognise that “the age of deference to the Murdochs is over” and join all-party efforts on future regulation of the press.
Ahead of her visit to Edinburgh, Labour’s deputy leader, Harriet Harman, said that Mr Salmond is now the only political leader who has not accepted that the Murdoch power base is dead in the wake of the phone-hacking scandal.
Her comments follow allegations earlier this year that Mr Salmond had offered to help lobby the UK government to support the Murdochs’ attempts to take over BSkyB.
There were also revelations that the First Minister had meetings with Rupert Murdoch, who has praised Mr Salmond on Twitter.
But Ms Harman, who is also the shadow culture secretary, insisted that the future of press regulation “should not be a party political matter” but “one where all parties come together to find a solution”.
Labour’s deputy leader will be in Edinburgh tonight when Mr Murdoch’s daughter, Elizabeth, delivers the McTaggart lecture.
Ms Harman said: “It shows the influence of one family that two members within three years get to deliver this lecture.”
But she said that times had changed since 2009 when James Murdoch delivered the lecture and argued that the guarantor of the free press is profit.
Ms Harman, who will be attending festival events with Labour’s shadow Scottish secretary, Margaret Curran, and Scottish Labour leader Johann Lamont, also called for cross-party talks once Lord Leveson has published the results of his inquiry into press standards.
And she urged the SNP to get involved. She said: “If Alex Salmond comes late in the day to recognise that we all need to work together to do this then so much the better. It should be all parties working together.”
Ms Harman said that there needs to be a new version of the Press Complaints Commission “independent from politicians and from the press”.
She added no single owner should control a monopoly in the market and called for the break-up of the Murdoch newspaper empire which accounts for 34 per cent of national titles.