Andy Coulson

Coulson thinks Newscorp will shop him. (They already have)

It has taken five years and billions of column inches, but Hackgate finally broke out of its Chatterati segment yesterday, and into the mainstream. And it happened, as usual, because the general public can’t stand cruelty to children. How easy it was in the end: if only we’d thought about that in 2006. In pretty much the same vein, Mulcaire went down because he hacked Diana’s children. The Wapping Liars, in their feeding frenzy, simply forgot that you can be a cynical swine about any adult you like – but not kids, and especially not Diana’s kids. Kids and grief remain, thankfully, no-go areas. The Guardian has sussed this very quickly: this morning they’re onto the hacking of  7/7 phones.

However, I frankly still doubt if Kevin and Cheryl really grasp what this story has always been about: a nasty hand-in-glove bung relationship between politics, the Met police, and the media – in this instance, an unelected, foreign Anglophobic media mogul. There are still several other Big Cheeses hiding in the shadows….and their apparatchiks, now nervously hoping nobody will notice who they used to work for, and where they came from. Even the great Piers Morgan, I understand, is happy to be on other side of the Pond – as indeed is James Murdoch, although that was no accident.

As always with the Establishment, the speed of Hackgate’s exit from the closet has run down their arrogance without even stopping. Hugh Grant piled in yesterday on BBCNews, Brian Paddick was on there are hour later effectively saying the Met is riddled with rot, Tom Watson called Brooks’ denial ‘ridiculous’, and today there will be an emergency debate in the Commons. There will also, of course, be PMQs – and the extremely late former bum-licking Murdoch admirer Ed Minibrain no doubt going for Cameron’s jugular. The Labour leader has already insisted that Brooks must resign. And Camerlot has already brushed off the call for an inquiry.

For once, I am with Dave on this one, whatever his devious motives might be. I’m all inquiried and resignationed out. I’m sure if Coulson had somewhere to resign from today, he would. What we need, and quickly, is untainted police enquiries and collars being felt. The Slog named the detective Whittamore two months ago as a vital target, and his relationship with Rebekah Brooks has now surfaced. I don’t want her resignation, I want her perp-walked into West End central and given the arc-light treatment.

I understand Andy Coulson for one has been telling chums since yesterday that the Newscorp strategy will be another line behind Rebekah, and she shall not fall. There’ve been so many lines in the Murdoch sand over the last six months, one more either way isn’t going to change anything. But in this case, Murdoch knows that if she falls, the BSkB deal is doomed. Hunt can wash his hands of the ethical element all he likes, nobody gives a monkeys what he thinks any more: if the deal does go through, a huge volume of citizens will shout foul: but I must stress again – not Kevin and Cheryl. The next stage has to be a hard and frontal attack on the Brooks/Cameron/Murdochs BSkyB stitch-up. The ideal, it seems, would be evidence that Brooks used trafficked child chimney-sweeps to bug Vince Cable’s home.

Two sound Slog media contacts have third-hand evidence of Coulson telling friends that Newscorp will now deflect the blame towards him. If he’s looking for sympathy, he’ll be disappointed – but it already looks like he’s right: as if by magic, following another of Newscorp’s ‘searching internal inquiries’ yesterday, the BBC website reports this morning that,’The tabloid’s owners have passed to the police e-mails which appear to show that payments were authorised by the then editor, Andy Coulson’. You have to hand it to the searchers of Wapping, they’re mustard.

In coming to some kind of head, this saga of Newscorp obfuscation and denial – not so much a tissue of lies as an entire bog-roll – has initiated the debate we’ve needed in Britain for over thirty years: how to restore the ethics and standards of professional behaviour that made this country – for all its myriad faults – a paragon of virtue around the world. Government ministers outside the Camerlot inner circle have been assiduously button-holing Fleet Street’s finest in recent days, sounding them out on how bad they think the hacking situation is. The fact that a majority of them are up to their necks in it themselves tells us all we ever needed to know about the quality of our politicians in 2011. But then, as we always knew anyway, they’re a major part of the problem.

There is an equally important issue being neglected in this flurry of donning the white knight’s uniform by all and sundry: the business effect of this mess on the Digger. Mention has been made of advertising withdrawals (a sure sign that pariah status now beckons Murdoch) but there is a lot more to his problems than that.

Stay tuned for more on this later.