Posts Tagged ‘News International’
According to your viewpoint, old men are either all-wise or plain loopy, clones of Victor Meldrew and all that. Given the state of the daily issues we chicken-keepers mull over it is hard to categorise us that precisely. In reality we have become so bemused at the state of national and international affairs that we have almost reached the point where it seems that those who lead us are either so clever that their deeds are beyond our feeble comprehension, or they are all even loopier than us and are collectively driving us for the nearest cliff.
What has brought all this on? A glance through this morning’s papers was the last straw, the truth being that none of it makes sense. Our first source of such bemusement came with the latest adventures of James Murdoch. Yesterday he gave an encore to the parliamentary committee. He probably didn’t enjoy being likened to a mafia don, or compared to an Asda manager, but his demeanour remained unchanged. It is now apparent that even the tea-lady at News International knew that hacking was widespread but the boss, like Manuel in Fawlty Towers, knew nothing.
Even more puzzling is the fact that the dogs that should have barked – the police and regulator – stayed silent. Even more puzzling than even that is the fact that our government was about to allow Mr Murdoch to double his dominance in the UK, and our Prime Minister was employing one of the leading NI lights whilst spending interminable amounts of time socialising with the Editor. To compound all this we learned yesterday that all the members of the parliamentary committee were under surveillance, their every move noted and recorded. Of course James Murdoch knew nothing about this either.
And what about the Eurozone? Twenty years ago, Germans endlessly repeated Thomas Mann’s post-1945 wish to see “not a German Europe but a European Germany”. Today a telling variation is doing the rounds. Chat to most people in Berlin and you will be told that what is needed now is “a European Germany in a German Europe”! There can be no doubt that, alone amongst the EU states, Germany has practised the kind of budget, debt and wage discipline that is precisely what the whole of Europe need. No surprise then that Germans resent the prospect of giving away most of what they have achieved to nations that have failed totally. No surprise either that the price of rescue will be a German Europe. Just what David Cameron is trying to achieve is less clear. Is it his aim to be part of Rule Germania or is he trying to achieve the total expulsion so desired by his right-wing whilst being able to blame it on Aunty Merkel to appease the Lib Dems?
As if all this wasn’t enough to confuse us we then learn that the first ‘privatisation’ of an NHS hospital has been nodded through. You have to hand it to Lansley, he ploughs on with his reforms regardless of approval from either parliament or the medical profession and the fact that ‘Circle’, the new private sector owners, are known to be friends of his should take nothing away from admiration for his Liam Fox-like cunning. But he does seem to have missed some of the detail.
As more and more NHS hospitals fall under the control of private companies how will postcode medicine be avoided. Who will undertake the teaching and training of doctors? Who will handle the less profitable elderly patients? What is to stop Circle extending the number of private beds to the point where locals who cannot afford to pay have to travel to other areas? On last night’s ‘Question Time’ a seemingly half-witted lady panellist asked why it is that private hospitals are quieter, nicer places to be when you are ill. It just might have something to do with the fact that they handle about one-twentieth of the numbers that flood an NHS hospital, and handle no emergency work. Another panel meber said that Andy Burnham was planning to do the same. Yes he was, but the idea that that somehow makes the move sensible is very odd given that he is arguably almost as daft as Lansley.
Yes, it’s a funny old world as seen from the allotments this morning. But, as my old Mum used to say, we must look on the bright side. Doing that requires a belief that all the mighty know exactly what they are doing and the only reason we serfs cannot undertsnad is that we are denser that a hen-run post.
Let us hope that is the truth of it!
It would be nice to turn to other topics today but the News of the World scandal refuses to budge from our collective thoughts on the allotment. Having had time to digest the announcement of the papers immediate closure, we all seem to have arrived at the same conclusion, the closure is a giant con-trick aimed at drawing a line under the hacking affair. And, to quote Albert, who has returned from his abandoned holiday at soaking Blackpool, it just won’t wash!
We may be simple souls but even we can work out what the Murdochs are trying to do. Two days ago the domain names TheSunOnSunday and SunOnSunday.com were registered. Out goes the Screws and in comes the Sun. But the public are unlikely to swallow this, neither are the advertisers who were pulling out of the doomed paper. A thorn by any other name is still a thorn.
All that we have learned so far is that the Murdochs are ruthless. When News International chief executive Rebekah Brooks went to the News of the World offices to make the announcement to the staff she had a very rough reception and had to be escorted out by security staff. Small wonder, for most of them joined the paper after the hacking was at its peak and most felt that the editor of the day was culpable. How anyone can be expected to believe that Brooks was unaware of what was happening beggars belief. The same goes for her successor Andy Coulson but, like the staff, he has been hung out to dry by the Murdochs whose handed-over evidence will almost certainly result in his facing serious charges, especially now that the police have realised that backing villains is not wise.
David Cameron has had no option than to change his mind on the need for an enquiry led by a Judge. He tried hard to avoid it as demonstrated by the hapless Chris Grayling who, on Question Time, tried in vain to produce a rationale for what he then believed was his master’s position. Maybe it was the furious reaction of the audience and Hugh Grant that caused the U-turn. Either way the prime minister will not be sleeping easy for his personal friendship with Brooks and his close working relationship with Coulson may well provide insights that he would prefer remain hidden. There are this morning some bizaare theories on that point, one being that the appearance of all the leading Labour cabinet members on the police list of hacking victims may not be a coincidence! Perhaps this could prove to be a Wapping-gate?
But there is a bigger issue here. Rebekah Brooks, Andy Coulson, Glen Mulcare and the Murdochs are neither the origin nor the limit of the problem, which is the unprecedented concentration of media ownership and power, and the corporate culture of arrogance and impunity that this engenders. It is now clearly in the public interest that News Corporation’s ownership of other media in the UK be broken up.
It is equally in the public interest that both Conservative and Labour politicians break off the social involvement that they have all nurtured with Murdoch. Yes, Cameron is the extreme example but even two weeks ago virtually every member of the cabinet and shadow cabinet attended a Murdoch party in London. Humble servants all, and it is totally inappropriate. To be fair to Ed Milband he is the first senior poiliticain of either party to stand up to Murdoch and the idea that he will now be targeted is repulsive. Who rules Britain?
Right now it is News Corporation, aided and abetted by government and police. For once the public has rebelled, what has happened has repelled even the most fervent reader of the tabloids. But we musn’t forget that the loss of a couple of papers is no big deal in the court of Murdoch, what he wants is ownership of BSkyB and the political power that brings.
There will be prosecutions galore and the idea that Hunt can still wave through the takeover is bizaare. If he does that the government could fall, no one will tolertae such power being ceded to people who oversaw the secret violation of the families of murdered children and slaughtered troops. Nothing will atone for that but the extension of the empire of the vile perpetrators must be stopped. Murdoch and his colleagues should be debarred from running, or owning any company in the UK. It can be done, it must be done, however close Cameron may be to the mogul.
This might be an appropriate time to re-show Melvyn Bragg’s interview with Dennis Potter. In it Dennis tells us why he named his cancerous tumour Rupert!
TODAY’S PUB QUIZ; GENERAL KNOWLEDGE; 1. Had Theo Walcott played in the Premiership before his 2006 World Cup call-up? 2. Which duo had hits with “Mrs Robinson” and “America”? 3. What is the fear of enclosed spaces called? 4. Which Suday comes before Easter Day? 5. On TV, which night featured a show from the London Palladium? 6. Alphabetically, which is the last of the calender months? 7. What would a palaeontologist study? 8. Which Disney creature nickname was given to Tony Blair? 9. Which veteran comic Bob celebrated his 100th birthday on 29th May 2003? 10. When Eric Weiss escaped from his name he was known as who?