Posts Tagged ‘Rupert Murdoch’

It’s time for Labour to stop hating Rupert Murdoch

22/01/2015, 01:02:27 PM

by Samuel Dale

Labour MPs were cock-a-hoop at the start of the week about the Sun’s decision to quietly stop publishing photographs of topless women on Page 3.

Page 3 is a rather vulgar intrusion on the editorial of a best-selling national newspaper but part of me feels it is free to publish what it likes. However, there is a legitimate debate to be had around the image it projects and campaigners fought and clearly convinced Sun readers, advertisers and editors that it is outdated. Well done.

But then it went wrong as the Sun cheekily re-introduced topless women to its third page today to the dismay of campaigners. Don’t be fooled, this is merely the twitching corpse of a dying and outdated feature. It’s days are numbered.

For many in Labour though Page 3 is a figleaf. The real target of the campaign is the old enemy, Rupert Murdoch and News Corporation, for whom a special hatred is reserved.

Labour has no major campaign against bare breasted women in the Daily Star, for example, it is Murdoch who drives the passion.

The hatred can be irrational such as attacks on Ed Miliband for supporting a Help for Heroes campaign in the Sun for wounded soldiers. Ridiculously, he apologised for it.

After all these years, why does Labour still hate Murdoch and News Corp with such a passion?

Supporting Thatcher. The printworkers’ strike. Buying the Times. Attacking Tony Benn in the 1980s. Media dominance. Billionaire. Hillsborough. Tabloid slurs against LBGTs and mental health issues. Kinnock in 1992. Faustian pact with New Labour. Fox News. Brown in 2009. Phone Hacking.

Yes, there are many reasons for Labour to hate Murdoch but notice one thing about all these events: they are over.


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Why is it ok for Sajid Javid to attack Muslims?

11/01/2015, 05:02:38 PM

Sajid Javid sums up everything the Conservative party would like to believe about itself.  The son of a bus driver who dragged himself up by his bootstraps to get to university, before embarking on a dazzling career in the City and a seat in the Cabinet.

But Javid’s tale of social mobility and hard work is all the more compelling because of his ethnicity. Specifically, his Pakistani-Muslim heritage. For a party that barely has a toe-hold into Britain’s ethnic minority communities, he is a powerful emblem.

But here’s the problem. Javid isn’t religious. In his own words he is “not practicing”. Nevertheless, he felt able this morning to weigh into the dubious debate about the culpability of all Muslims for countering Jihadi terror, telling BBC Radio 5 Live that:

“All communities can do more to try and help and deal with terrorists, try and help track them down, but I think it is absolutely fair to say that there is a special burden on Muslim communities…”

Contrast this with what Rupert Murdoch posted yesterday on Twitter:

“Maybe most Moslems peaceful, but until they recognize and destroy their growing jihadist cancer they must be held responsible.”

Or when Nigel Farage claimed the other day that there was now a “fifth column” of Muslims who “hate us”.

Twitter exploded in indignation against Murdoch, while Home Secretary Theresa May called Farage “irresponsible”, and Nick Clegg accused him of making “political points”.

So why does Javid, the non-Muslim, get away with claiming there is a “special burden” on Muslims for dealing with Jihadi terror?

Surely, by opting out of the faith of his father, Javid has no more right to make the same, inelegant argument than fellow affluent non-Muslim men like Murdoch and Farage?

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Labour’s strategy for dealing with The Sun is ludicrous

29/09/2014, 12:15:05 PM

by Kevin Meagher

Last week, The Sun newspaper ran a feature inviting each party leader to wear a wristband showing their support for the Help for Heroes charity. David Cameron, Nick Clegg and Nigel Farage featured. Ed Miliband did not.

There are conflicting accounts about exactly what happened, with the paper maintaining it made several attempts to secure the Labour Leader’s buy-in; while party sources claim they weren’t given enough time to comply with the request. In the event, the paper ran its front page piece, with a blank space reserved for Miliband, blaming his no-show on a “fear of offending Labour lefties.”

Amid the accusations and counter-accusations, what is clear is that the party’s explanation for not co-operating – citing Ed Miliband’s prior diary commitments – was disingenuous nonsense. It would have taken a press officer five seconds to grab a quick photo. But worse than being disingenuous, it was stupid, too, given the paper would inevitably “empty chair” Miliband for refusing to participate.

In fact, it was so obvious how things would turn out that there must have been a deeper motive. Indeed, there remain many voices in the party that want to boycott the paper as punishment for its coverage of the Hillsborough tragedy as well as the illegal phone-hacking scandal; and the party’s strategy is clearly driven by these considerations.

But boycotting The Sun is a disastrous tactic, the worst form of gesture politics. What’s the desired result? To make a principled stand against the quality of its journalism? To hurt Rupert Murdoch commercially? Of course, if anyone’s serious about punishing Murdoch or boycotting The Sun, then why not its News UK stablemate, The Times, as well? Or, better still, cancel your Sky subscription.

Worse, Labour’s approach is unevenly implemented. Ed Miliband was content to pose with a World Cup edition of the paper back in June before u-turning and apologising for doing so after ruffling the feathers of some within the party.

Disgusting though The Sun’s coverage of Hillsborough was, many other papers at the time published similar slurs against Liverpool football fans, egged on by media briefings given by South Yorkshire Police. And now the Mirror Group has conceded that some if its staff were also eavesdropping on private voicemails, so will Labour figures shun The Mirror, too?


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Alex Salmond wants to disenfranchise millions of Britons. Don’t let him.

04/01/2013, 11:56:58 AM

by Ian Stewart

Forgive me, this is all going to get a bit Simon Heffer, but in a good way, I promise.

Sometimes it seems that the political class is intent upon the out-and-out destruction of Great Britain. Witness the lack of support for our national broadcaster, even before the Saville scandal, and its supreme lack of care at the ruthless gutting of the welfare state, let alone the NHS sell off. If you value your eardrums, never get me started on education either…

Yes, the political class – a thing that back in the fifties and sixties most of us would have thought near to death – has, by the grace of Margaret and Tony, been placed firmly back in control. I suppose that we should all be glad that we have no need to worry our little heads about the issues of the day, despite that pesky universal suffrage thingy. Let us all sit back and let assorted witless media-types, lawyers, bankers, tame academics, the odd ex-oil company exec and career politicians lull us all to sleep.

Large sections of this privileged, educated elite show supreme indifference as to the fate of the United Kingdom, whether they wield power in London or Edinburgh.

Despite leading the Conservative and Unionist party, and despite presenting themselves as inheritors of Macmillans’ one nation mantle to get elected, Cameron, Osborne, Gove et al have no love for the union. Why should they, when Scotland rejects modern Toryism by such a large degree? Yet a common cynical cause has been made with the fat, failed economist in Hollyrood. An outside observer might possibly see that however unlikely it may have seemed given the SNPs anti-Tory stance at previous elections, for nationalists, they main enemy has been Labour all along.

It goes like this – Labour lost the Scottish parliament because we deserved to. For far too long we practiced the kind of machine politics that belong to Tammany Hall rather than a modern state. Hopefully we are learning the lessons and reconnecting. However the result of the stitch-ups, the graft and the internal censorship has been plain to see.

So Alex Salmond, never one to exhibit an ounce of shame, was given an open goal. Never mind that his policies on the economy were in tatters by 2009, never mind the backing of religious reactionaries, or his blatant courting of dear Rupert, he beat us fair and square.


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Governments of every stripe want to tear down the BBC. Don’t let them.

26/10/2012, 07:00:38 AM

by Ian Stewart

“The only way to strengthen the morale of the people whose morale is worth strengthening, is to tell them the truth, even if the truth is horrible”

R.T.Clark, head of news, BBC, September 1939 in a speech to journalists

Amid the awful revelations relating to the abuse of the young by Jimmy Savile and others we can see a deeper problem for all of us. I don’t mean the toleration of under age sex by the media and music industries, although it is plain to see that sections of the entertainment industry that rely upon the gullibility of teenagers have been getting away with some truly disgusting things for decades. And not just in Britain. What I fear is happening alongside the terrible saga of cover up-investigation-cover up-expose at the BBC is the evisceration of Auntie herself.

Something long-cherished by Harold Wilson, Margaret “lets have Jimmy round again for Christmas” Thatcher, New Labour hacks, James and Rupert Murdoch, could well be completed with a cheering chorus of leftists – the final creation of an abject, cowed BBC, fully responsive to the wishes of Westminster, ripe for breaking up. While they cheer, it may be time to pause and remember just what it is that we will be losing, and with whom the cheerleaders are siding in their attack on public service broadcasting.

The BBC has been on the defensive ever since Andrew Gilligan’s slapdash reporting methods led to the death of Dr David Kelly and the subsequent Hutton Inquiry. Whatever the stated aim of Hutton, the result was a disaster for those of us outside Westminster who value a proudly independent news broadcaster.

That’s right – independent – of both government and commercial concerns, allowing it to investigate and expose wrongdoing without the fear of commercial sponsors pulling the plug. Politicians of all stripes loved it, as I suspect did plenty of people in authority.


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Mad Uncle Rupert unsettles anti-Leveson lobby journalists

16/10/2012, 03:41:33 PM

Whispers reach Uncut of disquiet in the lobby on the right approach to oppose Leveson.

The overwhelming majority of parliamentary journalists view the Leveson report as something to be feared and distrusted. The span of opinion ranges from Leveson’s anticipated proposals presaging the end of civilisation to simply sounding the death knell for freedom.

But signs are emerging of a split between the vituperative stance adopted by senior management at some of the leading anti-Leveson titles and the footsoldiers of the lobby.

A recent Mail editorial calling for the Leveson to investigate the BBC, following the Saville revelations, was seen to have made the right point in the wrong way.

The opening paragraph laced into anti-hacking campaigners, Hugh Grant, Steve Coogan and Max Mosley, branding them “three harpies from hell”. One hack at another paper, sympathetic to the  Mail’s position said,

“It was way too over the top. The point is about judging the BBC and the press by the same standard, but personalising it like this makes it seem like they’ve got a vendetta and undermines the case. People will think its sour grapes. Dacre needs to button it.”

Then over the weekend, Rupert Murdoch tweeted “Told UK’s Cameron receiving scumbag celebrities pushing for even more privacy laws.” Labelling victims of hacking that News International has had to pay substantial sums, as “scumbags” was widely viewed as a major mistake.  One journo murmured,

“He’s basically the mad uncle, locked in the attic, crashing about. Now he’s got twitter, the window is open and everyone in the outside world can hear him. Noone needs that.”

Another scribbler worried about the effect that the almost inevitable divestment of News Corporation’s British stable of papers will have on Rupert Murdoch’s behaviour,

“It’s alright for him. He knows he won’t even have any British newspapers to bother about soon, he can spout off as much as he likes. It’s the rest of us that will have to live with the consequences.”

With journalists from at least one paper under strict instructions to not even tweet about Leveson before the report is published, the signs are that the anti-Leveson lobby is feeling jittery.

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Murdoch – sympathy for the devil?

02/08/2011, 09:05:22 AM

by Kevin Meagher

Ever since that bright Friday morning on 10 April 1992 I have maintained a blood oath. As I woke following Labour’s fourth consecutive general election defeat – robbed by Rupert Murdoch’s tabloid snipers at The Sun – who picked off our leaders and traduced our policies with heartless precision – I swore revenge.

So, in the spirit of “think global, act local”, I have never bought a copy of The Sun from that day to this. As an occupational hazard I read it from time to time, as I do The Times, but my conscience is clear; I never shelled out cash for either paper.

Rupert Murdoch is deprived of my few shillings in protest at his malign impact on our public life. The only flaw in my otherwise spotless moral universe is purchasing The Sunday Times. I have not worked out a way around that one yet (well it is the Sunday papers, after all).

But there’s no Sky TV in the Meagher household. Even though, following BSkyB’s acquisition, I now miss out on the oeuvre of cult US cable station HBO, I will not budge. My nineteen year boycott of (nearly) all things related to the Dirty Digger remains resolute.

I am not alone. For many on the left Murdoch is a member of the pantheon of the detested; up there with Thatcher, Tebbit and Powell. The late Dennis Potter even called the cancer that was killing him “Rupert” as a reminder of the man he despised for his coarsening effect on British popular culture.

But does there come a point when there is no more hate left to give? Over these past few weeks I have come to realise that my spleen is all vented out. I am content, rather, to win on points. The octogenarian Rupert Murdoch will now go to his maker under the cloud of an investigation of one kind or another.

He will be lucky to fend off investors who are tired of his antics and the way he runs his business like a personal fief; or US authorities who take a dim view of companies bribing public officials in whatever jurisdiction. The end game for Rupert Murdoch seems nigh.


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The week Uncut

16/07/2011, 10:30:20 AM

In case you missed them, these were the best read pieces on Uncut in the last seven days:

Dan Hodges says phone hacking is not the silver bullet

Anthony Painter calls for media ownership reform

Kevin Meagher thinks Ed deserves a pat on the back

John Woodcock on the BskyB bid and media regulation

Atul Hatwal reports on Ed’s next move

Dave Talbot says big up to the Guardian

Ian Austin isn’t after blue or new, he wants future Labour

Matt Cavanagh says the government are spinning rising crime rates

… and this weeks Commons sketch

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Where next for Labour on hacking? Follow the money Ed

15/07/2011, 09:46:57 AM

by Atul Hatwal

The wreckage of Rupert Murdoch’s empire floats in the political waters. MPs and journalists view a landscape transformed. But as the initial storm surge from hacking slows, Labour faces some tough new political choices.

Where next in the campaign?

By common consent Ed Miliband has had a good war. Should he now step back and let the Levenson Inquiry go about its business? Or should he keep on keeping on?

Around Miliband, two camps have rapidly emerged.

On one side are those advocating a Glee strategy – don’t stop believing.

If News International can be brought to its knees, what about the Daily Mail?

The Daily Mail is unique in eliciting the same reaction from Tony Blair and Alastair Campbell as the left of the Labour party. For this group, it is a once in a generation opportunity to fix one of Labour’s most implacable enemies and help create genuinely more open political debate.

The voices on this side of the divide include Ed Miliband’s base – his early and most enthusiastic supporters, new politics think-tankers and those yearning to move on from the technocratic managerialism of New Labour.

Belief is intoxicating. They want the moral crusade to keep rolling. This is the Ed they voted for.

On the other side are the old media hands.  They have been out of their comfort zone for the past two weeks. Their world view involves dealing with the media to get Labour’s message across. War on News International was unthinkable ten days ago. War on the Daily Mail makes them feel ill.

Come what may, at some point, Labour is going to have to deal with the media.

The fall of News International might have taken them by surprise, but that doesn’t change the fundamentals of media management where some type of working relationship is essential, even with the enemy.

This group includes rafts of former advisers, members of the shadow cabinet and Labour-leaning journalists.  It’s no coincidence that this nexus was also the source of Miliband’s recent leadership crisis.

But in the debate on resolving this dilemna, something’s been missing.

Neither camp has provided a cogent analysis as to why News International’s position collapsed so quickly. (more…)

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BSkyB bid dropped – now we must push for media ownership reform

13/07/2011, 03:22:48 PM

by Anthony Painter

It would be lovely to think that the BSkyB bid has been dropped because of Parliamentary unity and clarity of voice. Unfortunately, this is not really the case. The reality is that two other factors are likely to have led to this decision.

The increasing political and media attention on the scandal in the US and the impact of this focus on News Corporation’s financial standing is undoubtedly a major factor. Questions posed yesterday by Senator Jay Rockefeller who has insisted that allegations that victims of 9/11 had their phones hacked should be investigated have forced the Murdochs into a rear-guard action. BSkyB is no longer the focus- News Corporation itself is the concern and the corporate share buy-back yesterday indicates the emerging crisis for the company.

The second issue is the ticking time-bomb of the Ofcom ‘fit and proper’ test. If they fail that, then not only would the bid have been stopped in its tracks, if may have had to divest itself of its existing highly lucrative 39% shareholding.

There is an important caveat to this. Rupert Murdoch is nothing if not tenacious. His thinking will be that this is the end of the battle but not the war: stabilise the situation in the US and come back later. So be it. However, next time the rules of the game must be different. This is not about one individual or a family or a single company. It is about understanding how we’ve been shown the consequences of allowing large concentrations of power to swell- corruption. Now we must say: never again.

It would be astounding in reality if News Corporation was able to launch another bid in the foreseeable future whatever Rupert Murdoch may be hoping. Nonetheless, if it does it should be on different terms. The Communications Act 2003 is now looking like a highly flawed piece of legislation: most particularly, its public interest test is too narrow. It is not good enough to wait for the public inquiry to report- we need to draft some amendments to our media ownership laws immediately. The following would seem to be sensible:

–      Ofcom should be asked by the secretary of state to continue with its ‘fit and proper’ assessment of News Corporation executives with the evolving criminal investigations taken into consideration.

–      ‘Fit and proper’ itself must be reviewed to ensure that it encompasses executives presiding over the types of malign and illegal behaviour we have seen within News International over the past few years.

–      Cross-media ownership should be more heavily restrained. 20% ownership is the current limit. It should be reviewed with a view to lowering it and it must be revisited should a media company exceed the new limit even after a takeover has occurred.

–      Content provision and carriage should be separated. In other words, no company should be both a content provider and media infrastructure service provider.

–      The BSkyB plan could ultimately evolve its digital television into a walled and bounded internet platform- this is anti-competitive and should not be allowed. If a company provides access to any of the internet, it should be obliged to provide access to all of it on an equal footing (ie same ease of access and download speeds etc.)

These changes will ensure that corporate media power will be heavily constrained. It will not hamper free, fair and determined journalism which is a public good. It will create an open, diverse, and dynamic information market.

We can’t drag our feet in diluting concentrations of media power. We now have the opportunity to act with clear heads.

News International is the power lever; BSkyB is the cash machine. At least the bid has been stopped in its tracks. We are at the end of the beginning of this scandal. Now we can push for an open, competitive, plural, transparent, and dynamic media and an enriched public and commercial space. Time to get on with it before it’s too late again.

Anthony Painter is an author and critic.

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