The Week in Politics: Leveson is the gift that keeps on giving

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Thank the Lord for Lord Justice Leveson
Thank the Lord for Lord Justice Leveson

Some love it, some hate it, but all political geeks are hooked. Leveson is EastEnders for political nerds. All the characters are in there, with all their defects, trying to screw each other over. Political journalists with days off work guilty admit to each other that they spent it watching Leveson. It's depressing, but ultimately nourishing.

This week's menu began with Tessa Jowell, who admitted spending years of her life checking nearby cars for reporters. It was actually a slightly unsettling account of life under permanent observation. Or, as John Bentham would have noted, under the sense you might be under surveillance.

Next Peter Mandelson returned to the fold. He took the opportunity to throw some daggers in the direction of Yates of the Yard, who he said bullied him. He even toyed with the idea of taking him to court, but was too busy.

Next came the light relief as Jeremy Paxman attended the inquiry. The old pitbull isn't mellowing with age. "In the past there was an inquiry and they were quietly forgotten," he told Lord Leveson. "Your challenge will be to stop yourself becoming a total irrelevance."


But the best was saved for the tail end of the week, as Frederic Michel, News International point man for Jeremy Hunt's office, used his marvellous French accent to describe the communication he had with the people who were supposed to be quasi-judicial. By the time Hunt's special adviser Adam Smith took the stand it got much worse. The inquiry was presented with a memoir from Hunt to David Cameron outlining his plainly expressed support for the News Corp BSkyB bid. Cameron later handed him control, just after that "small chat" with James Murdoch at Rebekah Brooks' house. The scandal gets closer to Cameron every day. It could yet come to define his time in office.

The prime minister had his own problems. He started the week facing accusation of "chillaxing". Apparently he's obsessed with playing games on his iPad and drinking wine on Sundays. He says it's all a fiction, but then went sightseeing in Chicago instead of saving the world economy.

In fact, his most famous moment this week came in a startling photo of the G8 leaders watching the Champions League semi-finals. It was enough to fuel Ed Miliband's entire attack on the prime minister in the Commons later. That session did not go to plan for Cameron, who kept his cool the entire time only to be driven mad by Ed Balls just before the final whistle. That "muttering idiot", Cameron barked, again proving that the shadow chancellor can get reactions out of the prime minister which other Labour figures only wish for.

As for the eurozone crisis, that pretty much went unresolved. No changes there, then.

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