A Thousand Questions but Just One Issue
There is a single issue at the heart of the News Corp. scandal from which all others emanate, and that is the influence that the corporate world and the very, very rich have over supposedly democratic institutions and a supposedly democratic society.
So when we ask why MPs were too scared to stand up to Murdoch we’re asking about the power of a corporation to cow a legislature.
When we ask about a newspaper’s bribes to policemen we’re asking about the power of a corporation to illegally buy information and compromise officers of the law.
When we ask about the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police receiving £12,000 hospitality from a luxury spa company we’re asking what the business or its friends get in return.
When we ask why a disgraced former editor from the country’s biggest media group is hired to advise the Prime Minister and why that Prime Minister has sixty odd meetings with that media group in 18 months, we’re asking about that media organisation’s influence or even power over the Prime Minister and his government.
But it goes further.
When we ask why perhaps up to a dozen undercover officers, such as Mark Kennedy, were detailed to infiltrate Green groups and why the Association of Chief Police Officers ran a business selling the information such officers gathered too corporate interests we are also asking about the relationship between the police and big business.
When we ask about heavy handed policing at arms fairs and at Kingsnorth, we’re asking the same question; how much power does big business have to get the police to do its bidding?
When protests are peaceful and when the only real threat to an organisation is to its bottom line, when officers subvert those protest groups where there is little threat to the public interest but where there is a market for intelligence on them, we know that it is driven by a form of corruption.
But let s go further still: when governments, in a time of crisis, make cuts to reduce deficits and thus hurt the poor, yet allow the super-rich to avoid paying their share, we must ask who calls the tune?
When the Republicans in the United States insist that 85% of the budget deficit must be addressed through reductions to America’s pathetic welfare safety net and only 15% through tax rises that don’t even roll back the Bush tax cuts for the super-rich, we must ask who really rules America?
When inflation runs at 5% yet interest rates are set at 0.5% to allow the banks who caused this crisis to rebuild their balance sheets at the expense of savers who lose money in real terms simply by keeping it in one of those banks we must ask who really calls the shots from Tokyo to London to LA.?
I believe in democracy. I believe that entrepreneurs, inventors, innovators and honest business-people deserve the opportunity to provide the jobs, the goods and the services that society needs. But I don’t believe that in a democracy that should give the super-rich a greater voice or more influence and certainly not more power than anyone else. Yet that is what is happening.
And that is why all this matters so much; it is the moment when the curtain moves aside and we see Oz, wizened old Oz with his hands on the levers and his smoke and mirrors and we have a chance to question this illusion of democracy that we’ve lived with all our lives.
Democracy isn’t about the rule of the rich, it isn’t about the dictatorship of the proletariat; it’s about each and every one of us, by virtue of nothing more than our shared humanity, having an equal voice in determining how our society is run. We should settle for nothing less.