News International upholds probity? So be it


2:18 pm - March 26th 2012

by Dave Osler    


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The righteous, so the rabbinical maxim has it, have their work done for them. After yesterday’s Sunday Times so perfectly skewered the venality of the Conservative Party, all the average lefty need do is sit back with a big wide smirk on his or her face.

Some commentators are suggesting that this operation was carefully planned, by way of a reprisal from the Rupert Murdoch camp for the Leveson Inquiry. The theory is entirely plausible, and if that is indeed the case, the irony that probity is here being upheld by News International should be apparent to all.

Because if there is one businessman who must certainly does not need to stump up a quarter of a million quid for a meal with senior politicians, it is Mr Murdoch. No doubt he is contemptuous of the small fry forced to reach for their chequebook.

The media proprietor has dined with several successive prime ministers and effectively dictated media policy to all of them.  Less than two weeks ago, it was revealed that he held a secret meeting with Margaret Thatcher in 1981, prior to his purchase of Times Newspapers. Both sides subsequently lied by denying that it happened.

At least Mr Murdoch’s regular visits to Number Ten during the New Labour administrations were well documented, as were Blair’s begging phone calls to Berlusconi, putting the case for News International to buy an Italian television company.

It is sobering to reflect that the stitch-up of Peter ‘Premier League’ Cruddas is likely to inflict more political damage on the government than the ineffectual one-day public sector strike seen on November 30 last year.

That the labour movement seemingly packs less political clout than a single newspaper is a pointer to the balance of class forces in Britain today. But that is a debate that can be deferred to another time. Meanwhile, my advice is to just look on and enjoy.

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About the author
Dave Osler is a regular contributor. He is a British journalist and author, ex-punk and ex-Trot. Also at: Dave's Part
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Reader comments


1. Solomon Hughes

I think the idea that “the stitch-up of Peter ‘Premier League’ Cruddas is likely to inflict more political damage on the government than the ineffectual one-day public sector strike seen on November 30 last year” is simply wrong.

As you know more than anyone know, Dave, New Labour were able to ride out scandals of this kind – because they were at least meeting some of the needs of ordinary people as well as their rich donors (so sucking up to Ecclestone etc. but also passing minumum wage laws, increasing social spending)

this scandal is hitting the Tories hard because they are seen as the party of the rich , as reverting to type as the “nasty party” – without strikes like N30, they would not be seen this way. So the “give me £250k to meet the PM” is a problem for the Tories as at the same time they are saying “I’m taking your pension, lower paid people” – an issue that would not be widely known without strikes like N30

In addition, a strike’s main aim isn’t just “political damage” to the government, its aim is strenghtening the position of union members, and I have no doubt N30 wasn’t “ineffectual” in this way, and it increased membership and determination of union members (it was particularly effective in schools) – On the whole, I think it is a shame your usually perceptive analysis of “them” is always balanced by a bit of an eeyorish misery about the possibility that “us” can do anything about it.

One question: since when has the Labour party had anything to do with the labour movement? It’s before my time but I’m pretty sure they abandoned all pretence at caring about the working man (or woman) back when I was still in nappies.

Would not surprise me if NI did do this for revenge. After all they went after the lawyers who were representing the people suing NI.

Murdoch is an International criminal crime family.

Cameron will probably get a horses head in his bed.

What’s more worrying is that this may be a spat between two people touting the interests of the wealthy but that doesn’t mean they’ve suddenly started taking an interest in anybody else.

I don’t know if I believe Murdoch set this up or was involved in any way but I certainly believe he’s enjoying every part of it.

“I don’t know if I believe Murdoch set this up or was involved in any way but I certainly believe he’s enjoying every part of it.”

I certainly don’t believe that Rupert set up or even suggested the hacking of phones and emails as a means for journalists working for NI media to gather news stories.

He very likely didn’t know it was going on – and has reportedly rather lost interest in printed media in order to focus more on digital media. What Rupert did was to create a media empire infused with professional values in which hacking was regarded as the smart thing to do.

The Sunday Times article has been followed by various commentators warbling on about how the Leveson Inquiry puts this type of investigative journalism at risk. I suspect that this is one reason why a Murdoch paper did it: to lead on to this kind of comment. Another reason is that a Murdoch paper needs to be seen to be doing important investigative journalism, given that the Sunday Times hasn’t done anything like this since the 70s.

It is a very enjoyable situation, but watch out for further attempts to claim that the Leveson Inquiry is a threat to freedom of the press.

Well Solomon, I don’t recall Labour being 17% ahead in the polls after N30. ‘Nuff said.

9. Solomon Hughes

I’m not sure waiting for Murdoch to save us from Cameron is “Nuff Said”, tbh. Firstly, the N30 strike wasn’t “ineffectual” on its own terms – it was large, solid and built the union movement (increased membership and confidence)- maybe its effect will eventually be frittered away, but I think it is still with us for now: If we union members don’t make stands like this now, not only will the Coalition totally skin us, even a luckily reelected Labour govt will do the same.

Secondly, in terms of polling (which wasn’t the main point of the strike) actually Labour went ahead of the Tories in the polls after N30, according to Yougov, by 8 points. It was in the beginning of 2012 that Labour frittered away its poll lead – in part because Miliband was indecisive, including edging away from the unions: I think the 17pts is a bit rogue, but Labour are definitely ahead again because the combined effect of the budget-break-for-the-rich, the Dinners for the Rich etc are “recontaminating the brand”.

We can either sit by and hope that continues, and hope Miliband doesn’t drop the ball , or look towards taking some independent stands, like strikes and demonstrations, to . Or we can just think anything that doesn’t come from Murdoch is “ineffectual”, which seems a bit gloomy

10. Charlieman

I am not surprised when newspapers do their job: find a story that people want to read and sell loads of adverts on the back of it. That is their business.

The Sunday Times did some investigative journalism into Conservative Party finances and earned a scoop. I cannot help pondering whether the talent to achieve this was a side effect of closure of NOTW.

The Telegraph bought a CD containing records of MPs’ expense claims. The data was illegally obtained and the Telegraph deserves credit for noting that public interest (in the legal sense) overrode criminality.

The Daily Mail (and this is years ago) defied the pretence that nobody knew who may have killed Stephen Lawrence and printed photos of the suspects on the front page.

Conservative supporting newspapers will always publish stories that hurt the Conservative Party. If somebody is going to print the story, harm to reputation of the Conservative Party has already happened. So print more copies, gear up your web site for more hits and enjoy the advertising income.

Charlieman: “The Daily Mail (and this is years ago) defied the pretence that nobody knew who may have killed Stephen Lawrence and printed photos of the suspects on the front page.”

Which could easily have jeopardised the possibility of a fair trial or have resulted in trial verdicts being overturned as unsafe on the grounds that the trial wasn’t fair. I have difficulty in believing the the editor of the Mail wasn’t aware of those pitfalls or hadn’t been advised accordingly by lawyers.

My recollection is that the Attorney General or the Director of Public Prosecutions have found it increasingly necessary in recent years to issue warnings to the press about reporting that could impair prospects for fair trials.

These a good reasons why the press complaints commission needed reforming even before the hacking scandals came to light.

12. Charlieman

11. Bob B: “Which could easily have jeopardised the possibility of a fair trial or have resulted in trial verdicts being overturned as unsafe on the grounds that the trial wasn’t fair.”

This is true, and must be a consideration for journalists and editors. But in the Lawrence case, evidence is now emerging (implications that were obvious to anyone who studied the case) that police officers may have been complicit (rather than negligent) in failing to identify the suspects.

The Lawrence case was a freak event, so we should not limit actions of the press according to it. If there is any justice, a few ex-coppers will get banged up for corruption — which should shame the journalists and editors who knew the background story but studiously wrote around it.


Reactions: Twitter, blogs
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  2. Jason Brickley

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  3. Nigel Watson

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  8. British Conservative corruption exposed by Murdoch | Dear Kitty. Some blog

    […] From Liberal Conspiracy blog in Britain: March 26th 2012 – at 2:18 pm […]

  9. andrew

    News International upholds probity? So be it | Liberal Conspiracy: The righteous, so the rabbinical maxim has it… http://t.co/PGeD0Wsu





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