The shock decision to shut down the biggest circulation newspaper in the English speaking world, the 168-year-old News of the World, once with a circulation pushing 9m, seems to me like the ruthless act of a ruthless duo (father and son) intent on securing BSkyB at all costs; a sacrificial offering perhaps to quieten the baying mob.
While we must never forget the titanic struggle that the younger Murdoch waged against the tyrannical print unions and what the British newspaper industry owes to him, we must equally never allow one individual to become over-mighty in the media. The organs that inform public opinion have the capability to pervert the democratic process if too much power is concentrated in too few hands. As astute a businessman as ever there was, Rupert Murdoch has always had the air of a buccaneering freebooter who would stop at nothing to achieve his ends.
Big as he is in this country, profits are ten times bigger in the United States. Power almost unfettered on both sides of the Atlantic. Now, surely, is the time to call a halt. This may be our last chance. The politicians of Britain have been running scared of him for years. We know that Blair and his crypto mafioso would stoop to any lengths to appease him and now it is apparent that the hoped for new broom in the form of the Coalition government is treading the same path. Doesn’t that tell you all you need to know?
It is disconcerting, to say the least, that the woman whom Murdoch seems intent on saving was editor of The News of the World when the worst of the phone hacking took place. Furthermore, she has bought a house barely a mile from the home of the Camerons and is now a regular visitor, even accompanying Samantha on horsey excursions into the countryside. How she can stay at her post while the ‘poor bloody infantry’, almost all of whom joined after the hacking ended, are put out to pasture beggars belief. Then there is the added poor judgement displayed in taking a discredited News International editor right into the heart of the government machine at Downing Street as communications director against a plethora of warnings from distinguished sources. Our Dave chose to take him at his word that he had done nothing wrong and didn’t bother to do the vetting that is deemed necessary for all who are privy to goverment secrets.
Good as Cameron’s instincts are, and speedy, thrusting and reforming as his government is, it is a clear demonstration how the younger man will often not make the wise choices that the older would… See also how the 37-year-old Chancellor in waiting chose to make his ill-advised and foolish visit to the yacht of the Russian oligarch, Deripaska, it is said to solicit funds for the Conservative Party in the run-up to the election. Perhaps Ministers of the Crown should be above a certain age before they can put themselves forward for high office. I would, of course, make an exception for the incomparable 24-year-old Prime Minister Pitt the Younger who led us in the long war against Napoleon. He was a one-of; truly a chip off the old bloc. His father, Pitt the Elder, gained us 200 years of world supremacy following the Seven Years War. Then there is the younger Churchill who left a trail of catastrophic blunders in his wake whereas the older, when he took the helm at 65 against Hitler, never put a foot wrong. Perhaps it would have been different if Mrs T had been Cameron’s mother, but then perhaps not; look at Mark.