"Top Tory George Osborne denies soliciting cash from a Russian tycoon for party funds during a holiday in the Med.
But this Corfu caper raises a question about judgment.
Fundraising is a murky business which is why serious statesmen stay well clear — for their own protection.
Yet Mr Osborne was present when a middleman discussed a possible donation from the Russian billionaire.
Mr Osborne also leaked details of a private chat with Peter Mandelson which both parties were entitled to consider confidential.
If the Shadow Chancellor betrays other people’s secrets, he can hardly expect them to keep his.
Mr Osborne aspires one day to run Britain’s economy.
In this time of economic crisis, he should be concentrating on his proper job — fighting for hard-pressed taxpayers, not the small beer of petty politics."
OK, here's the one that most people will spot immediately:
Apparently George Osborne should keep his trap shut about what did and didn't happen when he met a Russian billionaire and get on with helping Britain's struggling workers. There's no mention of Mandelson's role in the "petty politics" in this editorial, just praise for his perceived support of the new Battle for British Business campaign in a preceding editorial... though it's possible that this is merely a case of Rebekah being quietly confident about Mandy's multi-tasking skills.
And here's the one that most people will miss:
Apparently George Osborne should keep his trap shut about what did and didn't happen when he met a Russian billionaire and get on with helping Britain's struggling workers. There's no mention that one of the people present during one of those encounters was.... Rebekah Wade's boss, Rupert Murdoch.
Rupert Murdoch owns one of the yachts that was in the flotilla where the meeting took place, his son-in-law owns another (more), and his daughter's 40th birthday was, apparently, the focus of this gathering.
So it's fair to conclude that, while George was innocently rubbing elbows and not soliciting donations, Rupert was wandering from table to table, offering out party bags and slices of birthday cake, or whatever it is that rich people do at these events.
Now read this sentence again:
Yes indeedy, George Osborne should keep his trap shut about what did and didn't happen when he met a Russian billionaire... and he'll also keep his trap shut about what did and didn't happen when he met a certain Australian-American billionaire if he knows what's good for him.
Rebekah Wade may not know how to declare an interest, but she sure knows how to veil a threat.
The Guardian has some additional info on how Murdoch sees Osborne's indiscretion:
This view is shared by Rupert Murdoch who is wary of the young turks running the Conservative party. The media mogul was present at a 40th birthday dinner in Corfu for his daughter Elisabeth, attended by Mandelson, Osborne and Rothschild. His displeasure at Osborne's indiscretion has been passed on; Rebekah Wade, the editor of the Sun, was unimpressed by Osborne's Tory conference speech."
So whilst it seems doubtful that the Sun would have gone so big on Cameron's speech if Murdoch himself or his son James hadn't given it the OK, Osborne is most certainly out of favour currently in Wapping, or is at least in the Sun's offices.
UPDATE (24 Oct) - Tut. They might've kept this quiet if George had kept his damn fool mouth shut:
Independent - Cameron, Murdoch and a Greek island freebie: Media tycoon's son-in-law paid for Conservative leader's flights for meeting on yacht in Santorini. The Tory leader has not revealed his talks with Mr Murdoch. In the Commons register of interests, he discloses that on 16 August, a private plane provided by the public relations guru Matthew Freud took his wife, Samantha, and two of their children from Farnborough to Istanbul. Mr Freud is married to Elisabeth Murdoch. A source in the private jet industry estimated the Camerons' flights would have cost around £34,300 in total. One witness said that the dozen or so guests at Mr Freud's party gathered on Mr Murdoch's yacht for drinks before moving on to Mr Freud's for dinner. They included the singer Billy Joel, Rebekah Wade, editor of the Murdoch-owned newspaper The Sun, and Ben Silverman, co-chairman of the American television network NBC Universal.
Now all we need is for some to blab about *those* conversations, but don't count on it being Billy Joel; his views on such behaviour are clear.