In London this has been an extraordinary week in which the successive waves of retreating defence of wrongdoing in the News of the World have collapsed, the paper has closed, and the cautious taunting of the bogeyman Rupert Murdoch has changed to open season. It is if the politicians have liberated themselves from their craven fear, and learned that if they transform themselves from the few whispering suspicions into the many shouting accusations then, as in Tunisia and Egypt, it is the emperor rather than they who suffers.

Yet there is something a little desperate about politicians’ responses, and about their attempt to focus attention on a corrupt conspiracy between media and the police against the interests of the public. From a longer perspective what has been going on is a much more corrosive set of relationships between media and politics. Successive waves of retreating defence are no doubt in preparation but won’t be needed to be deployed whilst political parties can keep the attention elsewhere.

Therefore whilst it is vital that the forthcoming enquiry probes relations between NewsCorp and the police, it is equally important that its terms of reference and powers are wide enough to allow it to probe NewsCorp’s relations with the last and current governments. It is these sets of relations which have established NewsCorps exceptionalism in British life and which have given rise to deeper public suspicions that democratic accountability has been sacrificed in the process.