News International tried to bully the Lib Dems, says Observer. It didn’t work.

by Stephen Tall on July 24, 2011

News International ‘bullied Liberal Democrats over BSkyB bid’ is the headline in today’s Observer, with the paper reporting:

Rupert Murdoch’s News International launched a campaign of bullying against senior Liberal Democrats in an attempt to force through the company’s bid for BSkyB, high-level sources have told the Observer.

Lib Dem insiders say NI officials took their lobbying campaign well beyond acceptable limits and even threatened, last autumn, to persecute the party if Vince Cable, the business secretary, did not advance its case.

According to one account from a senior party figure, a cabinet minister was told that, if the government did not do as NI wanted, the Lib Dems would be “done over” by the Murdoch papers, which included the now defunct News of the World as well as the Sun, the Times and the Sunday Times.

And of course News International had a proven track record of doing over the Lib Dems, as this Sun front page reminds us.

The reason? Well, that was explained clearly enough by former Sun editor David Yelland before the 2010 general election:

Make no mistake, if the Liberal Democrats actually won the election – or held the balance of power – it would be the first time in decades that Murdoch was locked out of British politics. In so many ways, a vote for the Lib Dems is a vote against Murdoch and the media elite.

As Vince Cable reminds us today, that prophesy came to pass (almost). In the end, though, it was News International’s total and utter failure to keep its own house in order that has brought to an end its stranglehold on British politics.