Prelude to the big show. The now officially endless Leveson inquiry had a curtain-raiser today, for the big show tomorrow, with former News of the World editor Andy Coulson appearing ahead of flame-haired corporate loon Rebekah Brooks. There had been high hopes for Coulson’s evidence — he is under enormous pressure, with News Corp trying to duck out of paying his legal fees, and possible perversion of justice and perjury charges looming.

In the end, he didn’t rise from the chair and shout “I ordered the code red!” but there were a few juicy tid-bits nevertheless. Coulson revealed that he held shares in News at the time he became employed by David Cameron, and failed to declare them when Cameron became PM. There was also a suggestion that his evidence had demonstrated that the list of Cameron-Murdoch meetings — which had been supplied to Leveson by both parties — was incorrect, a complex tale, ably told here.

But overall, it was another frustrating day, with Coulson easily batting back the more general questions about media and politics. Everyone knows that Coulson was hired by Cameron as a direct conduit to Rupert – the actual media strategising was done by professionals. But as long as Coulson plays it straight down the line — “I was initially reluctant to take the job” — who can say nay?

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Brooks will unquestionably adopt the same pose — but there may be juicier pickings there. She’s far more of an unthinking Murdoch groupie, and likely to get tangled. Le tout London — well all the parasites — will come to a stop for a few hours tomorrow.

Romney’s high school confidential. Republicans were starting to get a bit excited about the election, with tracking polls showing Mitt Romney leading Obama by 3-5%, a product of the end of the bruising GOP primary contests, and the slow accumulation of SuperPAC ads under the radar.

Then in a quick one-two, Obama announced that he was swinging his weight behind same-s-x marriage — after extensive polling ascertaining that the gains outweighed the political costs — and there was joy in the land, or at least on the coasts of it. In reality, however, there was a second, more important, part of the sting that appeared today when The Washington Post ran a long story about Romney’s days at high-school — when he was, according to multiple witnesses, a bully of a rather nasty type, his acts culminating in the forced haircutting of a long-haired fellow student who had been identified as homos-xual.

Romney also walked a blind teacher into a door. What a guy. But it’s the haircutting that team Obama have neatly preceded with the same-s-x marriage move, as a way of energising elements of the base who might have lost the sense that there was a real difference between the two sides — and also to scarf up a few independents genuinely repelled by Romney’s antics. All grist to the mill, and all team Obama needs now is a Romney s-x scandal. You can bet there are Dem machine operatives combing the Massachusetts backwoods for some henna’ed Bain Capital ex-secretary with pool-like eyes, and a mouth that a buttoned-down Mormon couldn’t resist …

Clean hands in Greece. In Greece, we write it, the world follows … days after Crikey revealed that one of PASOK’s conditions demanded of Syriza to join their coalition was a statue of Taki with his c-ck hanging out in Syntagma Square, the well-known Greek reactionary has come out in favour of … Syriza, the “radical left” party, saying that Syriza leader Alexis Tsipras is the only one with “clean hands”.

Meanwhile, PASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos, having said he wouldn’t even take the mandate has now … gone a long way to forming government by persuading the small democratic left party to support a PASOK/New Democracy pro-bailout government, with a view to “reconstructing” the whole deal over 2013-14. If DL take it — and the pressure on them will be enormous — they’ll most likely split down the middle, leaving the actual majority reasonably thin. And if the thing falls apart and there’s a new election, you can kiss DL goodbye. Their voters will go to Syriza, which is now polling 25% — or a 600% increase on their vote in the last normal election. Any new election would deliver them government, and then we would see …

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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