It is now just over 20 years since the newspaper tycoon Robert Maxwell fell off his yacht near the Canary Islands and drowned. After the obligatory period of mourning, Conservative Central Office launched a brilliant and merciless campaign to link Mr Maxwell to Neil Kinnock’s Labour Party. With a general election looming, very few stones were left unturned. Any doddery Labour-voting peer who had served, however briefly, on the board of a Maxwell company would suffice to demonstrate the depravity of the link between the dead tycoon and the unfortunate Mr Kinnock, whose dealings with Maxwell had in reality been a model of propriety from start to finish.
Happily, Rupert Murdoch remains in excellent health, but some uncomfortable parallels are nevertheless beginning to emerge between the partial collapse of his newspaper empire and the Maxwell demise. Both are politically dangerous, if not lethal. The fall of Maxwell did enormous damage to Labour, helping Mr Kinnock to lose the 1992 general election. The Murdoch scandals are turning into a first-class disaster for David Cameron and his party, while so far leaving Labour intact.