Deeper and deeper

So the phone hacking story takes another interesting turn. Yesterday, given evidence to the Leveson Inquiry, James Murdoch implicated very senior government figures in his failed attempt to take over BSkyB. These allegations, come just two months after Murdoch resigned as executive chairman of UK News International.

In December 2010 the bid was being examined by Dr Vince Cable, Secretary of State for Business. However, after a Cable was caught on camera saying he would make war on the Murdoch bid to take control of the company, Prime Minister David Cameron removed it from Cable’s remit and gave it to Jeremy Hunt, Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport.

However, during his evidence to the Murdoch showed how both aides in Hunt’s office and people connected to Murdoch had exchanged dozens of communications that repeatedly show Hunt’s obvious bias in favour of the Murdoch bid. Reports mention how “News Corporation released more than 170 pages of ‘evidence’, consisting of internal emails and text messages, detailing the company’s extraordinary efforts to lobby the Government. The emails largely contain messages sent by Frederic Michel, the head of public affairs, to James Murdoch and other senior executives at News Corp detailing his discussions with the Government. The company also released emails and text messages between Mr Michel and Adam Smith, Mr Hunt’s main special adviser. In one message, Mr Michel detailed what the Culture Secretary would say to Parliament the next day on the BSkyB takeover, noting that it was ‘absolutely illegal’ for him to obtain the information”. The article goes on to say how “Another email, dating from January last year, reported Mr Hunt’s belief that it would be ‘game over’ for opponents of the BSkyB takeover once plans to spin off Sky News into a separately listed company were announced. On Sunday, Jan 23 2011, he sent another email to James Murdoch, relating ‘a very constructive conversation with JH’ which mentions a ‘plan’ that would help create ‘game over for the opposition’. Two days later, Mr Hunt said he was minded to refer the BSkyB takeover to the Competition Commission but delayed doing so while he considered proposed concessions from News Corp. Later that day Mr Michel emailed Mr Murdoch to say: ‘JH believes we are in a good place tonight.'” A slew of other contacts between Hunt’s office, Hunt personally, Michel and Murdoch have been released, making simply amazing reading. In effect, Cameron removed the biased Cable, and gave it to the equally biased Hunt.

At the same time, Murdoch gave evidence saying that David Cameron was implicated. This comes just days after Cameron declared that he would do better and put what was seen as a bad month behind him. This was called for, especially when the disastarous budget was taken into account with the so called “granny tax“, hitting those who are the most firm supporters of Cameron’s Conservative party, in addition to making it harder to give to charities as well as Cameron personally hosting dinner for six figure sums with major business figures.

Predictably, and somewhat hypocritically, the opposition Labour party have called for Hunt to resign. Yet, as was thought, his adviser, quit, presumably under pressure in an attempt to keep Hunt in his job. Cameron has backed Hunt, though it is unclear how long this support will last. Indeed, some have acidly, but correctly noted Cameron’s own links to the Murdoch machine.

Yesterday, James’ father, Rupert gave evidence to Leveson saying Gordon Brown was not ‘in a balanced state of mind’. Murdoch Snr also made comments regarding Tony Blair and other governments.

Reports note that James Murdoch “did speak to David Cameron about News Corp’s bid for BskyB at a dinner party held by Rebekah Brooks”. The report adds that “Until now, Mr Cameron has always refused to issue an outright denial that he spoke about BSkyB during the meeting with Mr Murdoch on Dec 23, 2010”. Yet these denials are looking almost impossible to refute. Indeed, the one thing keeping Hunt in his job, for now, is that the scandal is certain to keep going all the way to Cameron himself. Alternatively, Cameron, could sack Hunt in an attempt to look strong, but there would be no guarantee that the party would keep Cameron on for long if he was seen as an electoral liability.

There is of course a wider picture that needs to be addressed. Firstly, like party funding, the role the media plays in a society is far too important to have “the market” play its tricks, with the widely refuted “arguments” it puts forward. Secondly, this continues to show how neoliberalism and morality have no relation to each other, with a heady mix of relativism and greed driving it on to great depths of individualism and immorality all in the name of greater profit, irrespective of the cost to society at large.

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One Response to “Deeper and deeper”

  1. On the doorstep « Order and Tradition Says:

    […] Order and Tradition « Deeper and deeper […]

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