To these eyes, this afternoon’s phone hacking debate was a surprisingly sedate affair.
Chris Bryant – proposing a motion to have an inquiry conducted by the Standards and Privileges committee into the News of the World’s actions – seemed to go out his way to depoliticise
the argument, and other Labour MPs followed his lead. And so there was relatively little mention of Andy Coulson, with the emphasis instead on the wrongs that might have been done to the House by
the police and the media more generally. It was, then, little surprise that Bryant’s motion was passed unanimously.
There were some flashes of controversy and acid, though. Bryant himself went quite hard on the police, claiming that they had not fulfilled their "duty of care". Tom Watson quivered that
Rupert Murdoch should be hauled before the Standards and Privileges committee. Jack Dromey gave us a dose of innuendo about No.10 and Watergate. And then there was Simon Hughes – a victim of
phone hacking – calling not just for an inquiry into the NotW allegations, but for a commission into the media as a whole. "There is a whole sea of illegal and undesirable activity
here," he averred, "we need to be robust about it." Although he didn’t really say anything which could be taken as a specific attack on Coulson, you wonder whether this robustness
will translate into an anti-Downing Street positon.
In any case, whatever was said today, however much they restrained themselves from blatant tribalism, Labour have got what they wanted. The story rumbles on.