A Failed and Broken Media for a Failed Britain
Rebekah Brooks, seemingly the only editor to have literally no knowledge of where her paper’s stories came from is promising a revival and a makeover better even than the now permanently re-heated Gordon Brown. The Sun was in full-scale celebration mode. “Great day for red tops” read its front-page headline.
It’s difficult to know where to begin with the disastrous week that Ed Miliband and David Cameron have had. As drones fly over Baghdad and the myth of British influence crumbles in the Juncker Yard Britain-England staggers nearer the EU Exit whilst mouthing ‘stability’ ‘security’ and talking of Britain’s international ‘influence’.
Miliband has faced criticism over his leadership strategy from the Labour ranks amid concerns over Labour’s falling poll lead. In a letter to the Guardian a broad coalition of Labour grandees were united in calls for more clarity about his plans and for his vision to be bolder. The Blairite faction are circling as the long civil war within the Labour Party continues to destroy itself from within.
It’s in this context that the media verdict matters. Miliband could have put clear blue water between himself and the hapless Prime Minister, marking out one of the few areas where his defenders say he has taken a stance. He failed again.
We’ve become so inured to the fact that ‘our’ police, media and political classes are in some kind of depraved nexus of living that the full impact of Andy Coulson heading for jail has slipped through this week making less impact than it should. The sordid courtroom celebrity circus has gone on for so long (three years have now passed since the revelation that the News of the World had hacked into the phone of the murdered school girl Milly Dowler) we all seem to have sloped off in disinterest.
But whilst Brooks and the Sun might be celebrating it’s not all been brushed away. These last few years have exposed the deep levels of venal behaviour at the core of the political elite. Writing in the Telegraph, Peter Oborne notes:
The phone hacking scandal exposed a louche, selfish, privileged metropolitan elite at the heart of British public life. That elite still exists. Incredibly, the Chipping Norton set, of which the British Prime Minister was such a leading ornament, still flourishes.
Late last year, the Telegraph’s diarist, Tim Walker, revealed (after initial denials) that Mr Cameron and his Chancellor, George Osborne, had attended the 50th birthday celebrations of Matthew Freud, an unappetising public relations mogul who is married to Rupert Murdoch’s daughter, Elisabeth. Another PR crony of Mr Cameron’s, Alan Parker, was given a knighthood in the Birthday Honours.
It is not just the Prime Minister, and the coterie of chancers who surround him, who carry on as if nothing has changed. The same is true of Ed Miliband, who last week caused such offence to his supporters by posing with The Sun. His failure to score points in Parliament yesterday looks like the result of a cowardly reluctance to offend Rupert Murdoch for a second time.
Or consider David Blunkett. Labour’s former home secretary was one of the most notorious victims of phone hacking, and has spoken movingly of how the intrusion drove him close to a breakdown. Yet until last year he was happy to accept an annual payment (equal to £3,300 a day) as an adviser to News International on “corporate social responsibility”.
The impotence of the Leveson Inquiry and the reality that Westminster politicians of all colours still feel a desperate need to lie down with the press barons is a depressing fact about British political life. The more desperate they are the less likely they are to try and change the utterly failed ‘self-regulation’ model. And they are desperate. As Miliband threatens people with border guards, Andrew Cooper, a recently appointed adviser to the No campaign, has stated that “No opposition party has ever gone on to win the next election from the poll position Labour is in now.”
So David Cameron and the Princess Royal head to Stirling to celebrate ‘Armed Forces Day’ with the Red Devils, and Brian Wilson tries to re-tread McConnell’s farcical ‘Commonwealth Games Campaign Suspension’ ploy in the Scotsman, bleating like a broken record that ‘the timing of the referendum is already an act of political manipulation’. What a cheek. You can feel the fear now in the increasingly shrill voice of Wilson and assorted Unionist scribes.
It’s as if the High Command of ‘No Thanks’ / Better Together / Britain United (or whatever it’s called this week) have wheezed into Wilson’s ear: ‘Do something Mutley!’
As Ed Miliband heads south after threatening Scotland with border posts for having a more progressive immigration policy than the pan-Unionist approach seemingly being led by the Brigadiers of UKIP and White Van Man Ingerlund, up pops David Cameron, a man deeply wounded by his disgraced spin doctor and his broken European stratagem.
Its not all bad news.
Cameron has so badly managed his European diplomacy it leaves broken relations everywhere across the continent where he had hoped to whisper poison against Scottish democracy. Miliband’s comments on border posts leave him looking both desperate and ridiculous. He has been badly advised.
Both leaders credibility is massively undermined. England’s crisis could be Scotland’s opportunity. Across the country the role of the media, from tabloids to national broadcaster is in question.
Wouldn’t it be a delicious irony if, in reverse this time, Scotland wins independence and we can all say ‘It was the Sun wot won it’?