I wondered when the day would come when a Prime Minister would describe the relationship between the Murdoch’s empire and the British government, as ‘too close and too cosy’. To have that day come, with a fund manager quoted on the front page of the FT as losing faith in Murdoch’s ability to manage this situation….in the week the News of the Screws shut down? It’s all a bit surreal :-D
It pays to be unplugged from the internet for a while. Todays paper’s were brilliant. Reading words from the the Prime Minister’s lips, that have long been mocked by his party as lefty rantings. That hacking was ”part of a malaise that reached well beyond the newspaper industry, and across party lines…the police… and how politics works…politicians too”? Wow. Apparently politicians have been ‘turning a blind eye’ to what the rest of had to accept long ago (if we were to considered grown up and constructive about politics…). At some point, the balance of power shifted.
When I was a toddler, Rupert Murdoch was courting the attention of Maggie Thatcher. By the time I was an adult, our political leaders were part of what was described by Peter Oborne(in a stonkingly good piece in the Spectator) as ‘an Omerta’. Our Prime Minister, by his own admission, afraid to govern in the interests of the people who vote. For fear of losing Murdoch’s approval. Competing for the attention of a man whose influence on this country, and the media that shapes our landscape has been pernicious. An influence that overrode democracy itself.
The grip on that power is beginning to look unsteady. The cracks that appeared, have shown things are more fragile than they seem. Problems here, could mean problems everywhere. And the deal which cements his position here, the takeover of BskyB, a deal which once looked solid, could realistically melt away.
I won’t go on about the effect of his influence. Nor that of the economic approach he demands, the social policies, or the viciousness he wants viewed as patriotism and morality. I won’t talk about Ed Balls sacrificing social workers to Murdoch’s wolves, after the murder of Baby P. Or the Digital Economy Bill being pushed through, weeks before the most closely fought election I recall. I won’t mention how intertwined with the ‘soul’ of Labour and Conservative parties, Murdoch has become. But even if the NOTW closing was News International exploiting the situation to make a planned rationalisation easier, Murdoch’s grip HAS loosened. The expectation that ‘grown up politics’ means Murdoch style politics, which takes bashing after bashing in the financial pages, has just taken a very serious blow.
This week, Ed Miliband was sent a strong message that he is disposable unless he resurrects New Labour as Blue. With its fantasies of the working class lifted straight from the Sun, accommodating Murdoch’s dinosaur style politics nicely. If Ed Miliband is the poor soul desperate to do the right thing. Desperate to challenge the Murdoch orthodoxy but forced by circumstance into posing with his shitrags while distracting people from the disposal of the welfare state- this is the opportunity of a lifetime.
He has the opportunity to stand up, and with conviction, be a party leader defined differently to the others. The one to discuss the cross party malaise and consensus the Prime Minister didn’t describe as an Omerta. Not just the one to agree with Downing Street and Murdoch how few red heads need to roll, for this to go away.
This is an opportunity to truly distance the Labour Party from Blairism. From an era that is clearly ending. For Ed Miliband to assert a position he still has, within his party and blunt the knives hovering at his back. To redefine the Labour Party, and himself as a leader to a public who aren’t daft enough not to have noticed it has been business as usual. In doing so, he could be leading the charge, in what is going to be an new era in British politics, whether some in the Labour Party like it or not.
Obviously, that would require me being completely wrong about the man he is. Which would be more than fine.