Is an hour of the Secretary of State for Education’s time less valuable than sixty minutes at the vegetable washing plant? Or, to put it more topically, is Rupert Murdoch ‘drawing Michael Gove into the News International phone hacking scandal?’ That’s the shocking implication of this recent blog post on the Local Schools Network:
Will Michael Gove also be drawn into the sleaze? In 2009, the Conservatives published a list of shadow cabinet ministers’ outside interests. News International were very generous to him, paying £5,000 a month for his services as journalist for one hour a week. That’s £1,250 a week.
It’s not just £1,250 a week – it’s £1,250 an hour, which seems pretty generous pay for a hack. (Hack is used here, of course, as quaint Fleet Street argot for journalist and not implying someone who hacks into phones – though it now seems that in News International these were too often, alas, one and the same person.) Whilst some may take this as a sign that most of us are undervaluing our services to the public by selling them so cheaply, it could be that it’s still not enough for Mr Gove. As an earlier post revealed, Conservative MP Andrew Bridgen is paid £1295.50 an hour as non-executive chairman of a company selling pre-washed vegetables. Surely as a world-class journalist for world-class schools he deserved more?
A more cynical view emerges, predictably, from another (no doubt jealous) journalist. Tom Clark writes in the Guardian that the Prime Minister:
tried to imply an equivalence between Coulson [Cameron’s disgraced communications director] and Miliband’s own press chief, Tom Baldwin, simply because the latter used to write for the NI-owned Times.
So if, in Tom Clark’s words, the Leader of the Opposition ‘has turned up the heat’ on ‘members of the prime minister’s kitchen cabinet’, where does that leave members of the actual cabinet who have taken Mr Murdoch’s shilling (rather a lot of them, too)?