News Corporation: crime, corruption and class rule


On Sunday, that bastion of scandal-mongering populist reaction, the News of the World (NOTW), departed this earth writes Piers Mostyn.

It was the country’s biggest selling Sunday paper and the paper that achieved the highest ever sales in the world. Two days later, after what a Guardian columnist described as “an uprising of MPs”, the Murdoch empire dropped its bid to take over BSkyB. It was a humiliating retreat for the world’s biggest media mogul.

Things looked very different before. Hilarious TV clips from last autumn show Tory London mayor Boris Johnson guffawing about how this is “a load of old codswallop got up by the Labour Party”, in response to a press query. More recently, as the unlikely spokesperson for anti-Murdoch militancy, the middle England romcom actor Hugh Grant archly put it, “the fact is that the prime minister and his wife, the leader of the opposition and his wife, members of the cabinet and shadow cabinet were all at [Murdoch’s] party on 16 June, sipping his Pimm’s and laughing at his jokes, and that’s a sad reflection on the people who run out country”.

One of those present as the oysters and champagne were served has commented, it now all seems like “an orgy at the end of the Roman empire”.

Very late in the day Labour’s Ed Miliband, wisely jumped ship – like a rat that can see the poop disappearing beneath the waves – and finally stated his opposition. This was quickly followed by the Lib Dems and finally the Tories.

However this course of events has shown that, but for Labour’s stalwart backing over the years, the Murdoch press in this country would never have been in the position of strength that it attained. And whilst the quintessential architect and product of this corrupt relationship was Tony Blair, his successors Gordon Brown (despite knowing that he too was a victim of hacking) and Miliband were content for it to continue.

What’s clear is that this “uprising of MPs” was not a vanguard action but more a case of being dragged screaming and kicking after years of knee-bending to corporate capital and its media fronts.

The Murdoch method, which is by no means exceptional, depended on a tactically sophisticated combination of flattery, bribery, blackmail and corruption to create a consensus across the political spectrum on the basis that no serious party could afford to cross swords with the News International press – for fear of vilification and harassment on the pages of the tabloids or at the very least the withdrawal of vital political support.

Of course many innocent people will have lost their jobs. And no doubt this victory will prove cosmetic as the “News of the Screws” is replaced by stable mate or rival. But the significance of the unfolding drama as a challenge to core power bastions for global and national corporate capitalism and its political servants should not be underestimated.

The story started six years ago with the jailing of the NOTW royal correspondent Goodson and private detective Mulcaire over the hacking of the phones of members of the Royal family. News International and police investigations, involving the seizure of 11,000 pages of Mulcaire’s notes and company emails led to quiet assurances that no one else was involved and there were no other victims.

But a growing trickle of celebrities couldn’t understand how papers were getting hold of very private information. This led to a second police investigation and the further reassurance that there was no evidence of any wrong doing. Not a view taken by James Murdoch as he then proceeded to authorise six-figure payoffs to some of these celebs.

The whole affair might have rested there, given the public’s difficulty in envisioning the rich as “victims”. Then in June it was revealed that Mulcaire had hacked into the mobile phone of Milly Dowler – the teenage victim of Levi Belfield just sentenced to life imprisonment for her abduction and killing – in the days after her disappearance. Worse still he deleted messages, causing false hope in the minds of her parents that she might be still alive and accessing the phone. This from a newspaper that carried as its badge of pride the militant support for victims, particular children.

There followed a growing river of other allegations: including that the phones of relatives of victims of the 7/7 bombing had been hacked and those of soldiers killed in Afghanistan. Public revulsion was immediate.

Despite this Murdoch, incredibly, appointed Rebekah Brooks (editor of NOTW at the time of the Dowler hacking) to conduct an internal investigation – even as there were growing calls for her sacking. All party leaders and Cameron in particular, up to their necks in a web of close personal relationships with senior News International executives, were caught like rabbits in the headlights.

A breathtaking series of further revelations and developments followed on a daily basis: extending the scandal to other News International papers, The Sunday Times and the Sun; and involving allegations of “blagging” (using trickery to obtain personal information).

It has also turned out that the Surrey police were aware at the time of Milly Dowler’s disappearance that the NOTW had been hacking her phone but did nothing about it. This, information from NOTW that it had paid £100,000 to corrupt police officers for information and a well-established close history between the Metropolitan Police and the Murdoch press confirmed a general picture of police complicity and cover-up.

Assistant-Commissioner Andy Hayman, who ran the original investigation was simultaneously wining and dining with the executives of the company whose alleged criminality he was supposed to be looking into. Having exonerated them he then left the Met and got a job on a Murdoch paper. Even Tory MPs laughed and deride him as a “dodgy geezer” as he protested his innocence in front of a parliamentary committee that for years had swallowed this nonsense. The stench has become so over-powering that the only question is how it was kept under wraps for so long

The initial political focus has been on the criminal responsibility of individuals and how far up this stretched in the Murdoch empire. Once it became apparent that this brutal invasion into often highly vulnerable people’s lives was taking place on an industrial scale (thousands of phones are believed to have been hacked or at risk of it) and that this is likely to have happened across a number of publications over a period of years – actual knowledge of particular acts of criminality becomes largely irrelevant. There has to be executive responsibility. Front page exclusives were being generated and £100,000s being spent.

The other focus was Newscorp’s bid to take a controlling interest in BSkyB and the implications this has for pluralism in the media, particularly the news. Until a fortnight ago there was not a whiff of opposition from the political establishment and good money could be put on it sailing through.

Over the previous six years none of the main media outlets (except The Guardian which has led the fight) now obsessing over the scandal had the courage to follow the story to where it truly led. So much for a free press. The reason: not simply fear of Murdoch, but jealousy and the probable fact that they were all up to the same games.

There seems to be an inescapable argument for individual culpability of one sort or another at senior levels in the Newscorp. But more important is what all this says about the organisation as a whole.

News Corporation owns News International which runs the stable of papers at the heart of the scandal. It is a major global player with a multi-billion pound turnover. It was, as top plod Peter Clarke (admittedly one of those anxious to shift blame, given his responsibility for the original investigation) put it, “a major global organisation with access to the best legal advice, in my view deliberately trying to thwart a police investigation”. Having invested large sums and significant resources in crime, corruption and cover-up, it only began ‘fessing up when presented with its DNA on the bloodied knife. This tells you everything you need to know about its business, political, legal and moral perspectives.

Clearly there are no ethical boundaries. Hacking and blagging will only be part of the story. Remember Benjamin Pell (aka Benji the Binman, aka The Fleet Street Sewer Rat)? He spent the later part of the 1990s extracting secrets from people’s dustbins and selling them to papers – ending up with little more than a £20 fine. And does anyone believe that mobile phone call and cell site (showing location) data or CCTV images (council, police and private) have been immune from this type of theft and corruption, particularly given police access? The planting of evidence and fabrication of stories are also quite possible.

What has been exposed is not a rogue corporation or some immoral individuals. It is nothing less than the ruthless maximisation of profit at almost any cost, even in a commercial field so highly sensitive to public opinion. The veil has been taken off the underlying motor-force of all capitalism.

Hardly surprising that the media and the political establishment are running around like headless chickens. The entire capitalist class and its relationship to the state is implicated. How else explain Cameron’s eventual volte-face to kick in the teeth close personal friends of many years standing?

Potential consequences include a massive loss of public confidence not just in the such media corporations but in the private sector as a whole. In a period of austerity people will put up with a lot of hardship if they can be persuaded of two things: that “we are all in it together” (already under a lot of strain as public support for the June 30 strike showed) and that we can trust the main pillars of the social order to sort things out.

In laying bare the brutal and repugnant consequences of the profit motive, the scandal threatens to expose to ridicule all the many assurances we still receive (despite the crisis triggered by finance capitalism) that the private sector can be trusted to run public services. We are told that even when a problem arises the state is there sort it out and failing that self-regulation ensures that other private sector companies can be relied upon to tame the rogues in the pack.

Well that’s been proven to be a load of nonsense – police and parliamentary enquiries were either hopeless or cover-ups and everyone thinks the Press Complaints Commission should be renamed Poodles for Craven Capitulation. Gordon Brown’s attempt to blame the Cabinet Secretary for his failure to institute a judicial inquiry when he could have as Prime Minister, is just another example.

Coming at the same time that Southern Cross, a private company running care homes for 31,000 elderly people, has collapsed in disarray putting tens of thousands of the most vulnerable people in a great deal of anxiety and with the real risk of many fatalities if they have to be transferred – we have all learnt something very important about whether we can trust the private sector with those aspects of life that we most cherish.

That developments that led to this scandal are typical of normal capitalist operation, rather than exceptional is underlined by considering the longer term processes that produced them.

Although Murdoch’s operation has been going for well over four decades, it is since the 1980s that he has made a particular impact in this country. Having bought a succession of newspapers he used them as an ideological battering ram to front up the Thatcherite assault on the working class and the accompanying transformation of capitalism to a neo-liberal market model.

This involved a systematic vilification of oppressed groups through sexism, racism, homophobia and xenophobia. It relentlessly preyed on the increasing economic insecurity of working class people under the yoke of unemployment, “flexible working”, low wages and declining pensions focussing the resulting anxiety on a fear of crime, disorder and immigration and vilifying any radical oppositional political explanation.

The relentless campaign for more repressive laws in the name of “victim’s rights” and ridiculing the Human Rights Act – one result of which was Labour passing laws to create 3,000 new criminal offences – now appears deeply ironic when one considers the treatment meted out to victims by News International employees.

But at its centre was a union-bashing crusade at the heart of which was one of the mighty trade union struggles of the 1980s as News International transferred its operations to Wapping provoking a bitter and lengthy strike and pitched street battles with mounted police. The legacy of that defeat, coming after the miners strike, paved the way for two and a half decades of decline in union militancy, membership and organisation.

The absence of strong unions with an ethical code of conduct in the print room and at journalists’ desks also freed up editorial policy from any constraint. If there is any one measure that can help ensure there is no repeat of the crime and corruption that has been revealed it is the presence of strong ethically committed unions in a pluralistic, independent, publicly accountable media – all sorely missing at present.

The deepening influence of neo-liberal economics have played their own role. The past three decades has seen a growth in inequality and an increasing determination of value in money terms. Privatisation and the assault on the welfare state has seen not only an attack on ethical standards across all public sector professions but a gradual shift towards valuing everything in money terms rather than public benefit.

From top executives on massively inflated bonuses to the lowest paid trying to scrape a bare living there has been a dangerous slide towards a culture in which everyone is expected to have a price. Hardly surprising that there has been a mushrooming of prostitution and the return of below-minimum wage ‘slave labour” in domestic service. Hardly surprising that bank employees, civil servants, telecoms workers and police officers can be bought – either corrupted by the culture or simply desperate.

Alongside this there has been a massive growth in surveillance and “data farming”. In part this is an outgrowth of the digital and internet revolutions. But it has also become a new sector of the economy, with its own need to maximise returns. The collecting, storing and dissemination of this data has largely been sub-contracted to private companies. Its very existence has created a marketplace for secret information upon which a populist reactionary tabloid media with money to throw around has thrived. Phone hacking is but a minor extension of this process. The cutting of the odd corner.

And finally the process of privatisation has seen the delegation of core roles of the state to the private sector. This has gone well beyond the main utilities, public transport and so on. It has included the state’s monopoly on the use of force. There has been a massive growth in the private security industry to the point where over half a million are employed; the Iraq and Afghanistan wars saw the widespread deployment of private military organisations in a web of corruption as billions of pounds and dollars were doled out to buy off local leaders in the occupied countries.

This private security sector has seamless connections with the official sector represented by the police, armed forces and secret services, with the regular crossing over of personnel. A consistent feature of the NOTW scandal has been the presence not just of corrupt police, but ex-detectives working for private agencies and using their contacts.

A careful examination of the core activities revealed in this scandal shows that it simply replicates what MI5 and the anti-terrorist, special branch and serious crime sections of the police have been doing for decades with the full backing of government and parliament. Earlier this year police were exposed for using systematic deceit, gross invasion of privacy and entrapment as part of a long term infiltration of the environmental movement. Neo-liberalisation of the economy and privatisation has simply and naturally led to the transfer of these skills and operations to the private sector. Hardly surprising that NOTW journalist Mazher Mahmood (aka “The Fake Sheikh”) boasted in the final edition of the paper that he had “clocked up 250 successful prosecutions” through his use of undercover surveillance and entrapment.

Of course this cross-over between the dark arts of the secret state and the capitalist media is hardly new. The BBC famously had an MI5 office in its building to vet employees. And foreign correspondents in a variety of news organisations over the past century have doubled up as MI6 agents (as shown by Phillip Knightly in Truth: the First Casualty).

Media corporations have undoubtedly benefited from a trade off for their assistance to the imperialist state – an implicit understanding that their misdeeds would be overlooked.

Why has all exploded now? Nothing new has actually happened. All that occurred is that a vast bank of highly incriminating information, in existence for years, has suddenly come to light.

The obvious cause of the delay is the British bourgeoisie’s traditional method of containing revolt, scandal and crisis – to suffocate it in an endless series of parliamentary and police inquiries, relying on the false veneer of trust in the “integrity” and “fairness” of these state institutions and particularly their “independence” from the interests of the soiled sections of the ruling class in question.

All anger and protest is diverted and diluted down the gloomy corridors of Scotland Yard and the House of Commons. Overlaying that is the cover up. It’s a tried and tested model that held firm for nearly four decades after Bloody Sunday, when troops massacred civilians in Derry 1971.

One obvious lesson is that the righting of wrongs will only effectively occur by the exercise of power independently from and outside of state apparatuses. Preferably in a mass and militant exercise in organised people power. The Egyptians have shown the way.

Nonetheless there must have been some trigger for the sudden outpouring. Why now? Why not last year or two years before? It would be glib and inaccurate to suggest that the previous week’s historic one day public sector strike by teachers, lecturers and civil servants was the cause. But in a sense the timing wasn’t simply coincidental.

Everything has changed since 2005-6, when the first glimmers of the hacking story emerged. The banking crisis has thrown the ruling class into disarray, leading in turn to a political crisis – not only because of deep divisions and the lack of strategy to deal with the economic crisis nationally, regionally and globally. It was quickly followed by the MPs expenses scandal and then an election in which none of the political parties got a majority mandate for it’s austerity policies and a coalition government was cobbled together to implement policies that had no electoral mandate.

This slide into a state of almost permanent political weakness and instability and on the part of the political elite was made possible by the earlier and still running crisis of confidence created by the debacle of successive military invasions, based on lies and at huge financial cost, from Iraq onwards.

But this has been met in the past 9 months by an upsurge of working class militancy – with the student protests, followed by half a million on the March 26 TUC demonstration against the cuts and then the successful 30 June strike. Meanwhile the past six months has also seen a mass revolt in the Arab world, mass struggles in Greece and Spain and major developments elsewhere.

Against this background the Wapping crooks and their friends in the police began to fall out. The outcome of the ruling class austerity offensive is looking far less sure. The traditional political mechanisms for ensuring ruling class political stability and hegemony have begun to weaken. No one wanted to be left still standing when the music stopped. So a mutual blame game has started.

A further lesson, therefore, is that if even the most powerful anti-union globalised capitalists can be confronted and rolled back – others can too. Many people have said that the anti-austerity movement badly needs a victory. Well, it may have been unexpected, but now it’s got one. With the political establishment weak, now is a good time to shake off the legacy of past defeats and fight back whilst it is on the back foot.

For action and information: Hacked off campaign:; stop Murdoch petition:; stop BskyB takeover petition:;;;

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7 Comments on News Corporation: crime, corruption and class rule

  1. very good article revealing the depth to which ‘criminal’ late capitalism will sink to keep control. Only element not discussed is the social media and various internet campaigns against Murdoch’s proposed takeover the BskyB which had at least some impact on the shift away from supporting News Corp by the ruling class. And now Brooks has resigned as well – good riddance!

  2. Mark Findlay // 16th July 2011 at 4:20 pm // Reply

    Very good article; a couple of tiny errors seem to have crept in though – should that be Rebekah Brooks (not Woods) and Ed rather than David Milliband jumped the ship?

  3. King Tubby // 18th July 2011 at 8:46 pm // Reply

    A bit over-egged but there is no questioning the main parameters of the above piece.

  4. One week on a lot more has happened. As radio commentator Steve Hewlett put it, “any association with Murdoch and his papers, which quite naturally everybody has had in some form is now so toxic … I mean, look: it’s carnage. It’s almost as if the light has suddenly come on, and everybody has said: ‘Good Lord – were we doing that?’”.

    Acres of media coverage (the Guardian printing 8-10 full pages on the issue for the past fortnight) but most of it doing little more than reciting the facts – analysis generally being superficial. An exception is Seamus Milne in today’s Guardian ( who compares the Murdoch empire to a mafia “family”. Part of the continuing fascination with The Godfather films and the excellent TV drama The Sopranos lies in the way they use The Mafia as a metaphor for capitalism. In the recent developments we see a full revelation of that metaphor and the exposure of capitalism as mafia operation.

    Here is a small selection of the last seven days developments:

    • Rebekah Brooks resigned from News International and was then arrested and held for 12 hours until midnight on Sunday. She then protested about this saying she had agreed to come in as a witness but was tricked; that no evidence against her was presented; that this is an intolerable slur on her reputation and even that she would sue the police. She forgets that this is how every criminal suspect is treated, generally a lot better – her door wasn’t battered in at 5.30 am. She seems unaware that all that is required is a reasonable suspicion of an offence. There is no requirement to “produce evidence” let alone prove it. Her purpose is to suggest that even suspecting her is an outrage. Hardly evidence of contrition and certainly no understanding of how the public view her position. More than a trace of irony given her very lucrative career in a news empire with a daily trade in vilifying criminal suspects going through an identical process: publishing photos and full details of allegations and then not the fact that no charges were pressed, or charges were dropped or the verdict was Not Guilty.

    • Met Police Commissioner Paul Stephenson resigned. Protesting his innocence. Yet it doesn’t look good that he accepted expensive hospitality from Champneys health farm which is closely connected to the News International empire through a variety of means.

    • Met Police Assistant Commissioner John Yates resigned. Protesting his innocence. Over the appointment of Neil Wallis, ex-NOTW deputy editor, as Met PR advisor and allegations that Yates helped Wallis’s daughter get employment.

    • Cameron’s position looking increasingly difficult. Particularly his hiring of Andy Coulson, ex NOTW editor, despite being specifically warned about allegations relating to him and NI by the Guardian and others. If there is reason for top coppers to resign then surely there is reason for Cameron to do the same. Coulson himself has also now been arrested. Cameron had to cut short an African trip to make announcements and answer questions. Increasingly he looks like someone caught with his hands in the till. But he has the chutzpah to suggest that there are serious ethical problems in the police at a senior level and fresh blood from outside is needed – as if precisely the same point didn’t apply to him. On Wednesday 20th he finally issued a statement of regret about hiring Coulson, “with 20/20 hindsight, and all that has followed, I would not have offered him the job … “ hedging about with qualifications about Coulson being innocent until proven guilty and that he won’t make a “profound” apology until it is shown that he had been lied to. This is a classic “non-apology”, claiming absolute innocence, but hoping to get the kudos of expressing regret. In some ways the worst of all worlds for Cameron as it leaves him looking completely non-credible and won’t make the issue go away.

    • Whistleblower found dead. Sean Hoare, the former NOTW journalist who is one of two whistleblowers at the heart of the scandal, the first to go on the record in naming Coulson as knowing about the hacking. The golden rule in British history is that at the heart of every state scandal there has to be an unexplained death. In my humble opinion the death of David Kelly (top ranking Defence Intelligence expert who exposed the lies behind the Iraq invasion) definitely did look suspicious even if it is difficult to find solid evidence to prove it. Hoare’s death may not be. This was a man who was clearly very unwell as a result of years of Class A drug addiction at the behest of the Murdoch empire in the pursuit of showbiz scoops. Interestingly he was a Labour Party-supporting socialist of the Clause IV variety – in favour of public ownership of the means of production.

    • Rupert and James Murdoch and Rebekah Brooks summoned before House of Commons committee. Billed in advance as a “day of drama” by the media. More of a damp squib. The MPs didn’t lay a glove on them. What mattered though is what they denied and didn’t say rather than any dramatic humiliation under cross-examination. The denial by everyone of any knowledge about anything was clearly a pack of lies and hopefully highly educational for the viewing public globally.

    • Murdoch empire finally halts payment of hacker Muclaire legal fees. Incredible that it took 20 days into the crisis to finally bite this bullet. Of course News International were buying Muclaire’s his silence. They must have finally balanced the issues and reckoned, after Murdoch’s questioning by MPs on global TV about it, what ever risk of Muclaire spilling the beans now is less than the guilt by association that these payments suggested.

    • Tory Mayor Boris Johnson: has executed a handbrake turn in an attempt to repair some of the damage caused by his earlier scornful outbursts against those raising this issue. The problem for him, and all the others, is that so much water has passed under the bridge without them lifting a finger that the more they protest the worse it looks. Ken Livingstone ought to be in a position to slay Johnson over this, with both of them competing for an upcoming mayoral election. Unfortunately he hasn’t and he won’t for a variety of reasons. First the original botched investigation by the Met was on his watch as mayor and his track record at holding the police to account was very bad. Secondly, right up until ten days ago, even after the recent scandal broke he was defending the top coppers who were subsequently forced to resign, just as he defended the previous Met Commissioner Blair and his cohorts over the assassination of Jean Charles De Menezes.

    • House of Commons Home Affairs Committee castigates police handling of the issue. The committee’s stance is of course correct, but nonetheless motivated like all other parties to this scandal by the fact that it’s own total ineffectiveness (if not wilful blindness) in tackling corruption, crime and sleaze has been exposed.

    • The issue has gone international: with allegations of the hacking of phones of 9/11 victims; concerns raised about the Murdoch ownership of the Wall Street Journal; questions raised in Australia and doubtless more to come.

    This affair clearly has far to go. The damage to the police can’t be underestimated and without a doubt an already shaky government has been considerably weakened, likely to eke out its term as something of a lame duck. The government may not be brought down in the short term (barring further major developments), but if resistance to austerity hots up, especially with autumn strikes, it is capable of collapsing particularly as the Lib Dems start running scared. Certainly time to warm up calls for the government to go.

    What is at stake is not simply corrupt media barons. It is the credibility of a network of institutions at the heart of a state whose modus operandi over centuries has rested on its implacable claim to integrity and quiet authority.

    The “story” still being pursed by media and political pundits alike is individual responsibility. This is obviously important. But there is an avoidance of the systemic nature of the scandal – within Newscorp, within corporate capitalism, and within the state.

    What we have witnessed with the police in particular is a “hollowing out” of the state. Over the past 3 decades the left has rightly focussed on privatisation and Private Finance Initiatives as public services have been transferred to the private sector. But those services remaining wholly public have been degraded from within – partly through sub-contracting and hiring consultants, partly through a decay in ethos. It never occurred to these top officers that there might be a conflict of interest in their conduct or if they did, they were so blasé as to assume no one else would care.

    The left and the labour movement have been almost entirely absent. The unions have remained largely silent.

    Undoubtedly Labour, in the person of its leader has upped it’s profile. But it is heavily implicated. There are very few Labour MPs who aren’t tainted – if only through their failure to speak out against their leadership’s close association with the Murdoch empire over such a long time. Like it or not they nearly all bought into or acquiesced in this Faustian pact.

    Much has been made of Miliband’s so-called “leadership” on the issue, but the reality has been lack-lustre. All he has done is place himself a very short distance ahead of the pack. With the Lib Dems handcuffed to the Tories, it’s a no-brainer for any opposition party to make some capital out of this situation. But the position of Miliband and party won’t become credible without a bold redressing of the whole trajectory of New Labour under Blair and Brown. This hasn’t happened, despite a superficial distancing. Miliband is too weak – he never had a strong independent base in parliament. His election rested on union support that is now turning against him for scabbing on the June 30 public sector strike.

    The Miliband hype was soon punctured in a Guardian/ICM poll on Tuesday 19th July suggesting that the public aren’t impressed: there has been no increase in support for Labour. It is an astonishing fact that 18 days into this political crisis (and well into a vicious austerity offensive) the Tories are still one point ahead of Labour at 37% in the polls.

    An initiative is required to give voice to a working class and socialist perspective:
    • to reverse the Wapping defeats and re-instate strong unions in the media;
    • for severe restrictions of the rights of private capital to dominate the media;
    • to remove politicians associated with the Murdoch group;
    • for an ongoing labour movement inquiry into the whole affair with the aim of establishing facts; providing an alternative perspective in the interests of the working class; and monitoring and criticising the official investigations.

    A visible movement needs to be created with real power to hold the state, the media, the police and all the rest to account and to fight for a programme of reforms. It is essential that the unions wake up and start shouting. The media unions are key.

    The danger is that, in the absence of a radical alternative to vested interests, the old structures – like an old Victorian building whose shell is kept in tact as the told rotting timbers are stripped out and reconstructed from the inside – will be refurbished and maintained. There may even be an attempt to launch a “modernise Britain” offensive to regain the initiative. In the absence of a real alternative the opening will be lost.

    It may be that the chief value of these events will be educational: raising mass consciousness and therefore confidence in the working class and demoralising and disorganising the ruling class. A stepping stone that might help transform the underlying dynamics of class relations from the ossified state of inertia they have lain in for the past 2 or 3 decades.

    Its of interest that in the past 24 hours the CPS has dropped the cases against 109 activists from UK Uncut involved in a sit of Fortnum and Mason’s on 26th March. And 20 environmental activists have had convictions quashed, following the furore over police undercover infiltration and entrapment, the Court of Appeal finding that undercover officer Kennedy had been unlawfully spying on the activists.

    Piers Mostyn

  5. Jane Kelly // 21st July 2011 at 2:14 pm // Reply

    Another very good update on the Murdoch scandal. The Cameron government must be thanking their lucky stars that Parliament has gone off for their extended summer break. The faces of Osborne, May and Clegg while Camerson was ‘answering’ questions on Wednesday was a sight for sore eyes!

  6. I’m not sure I buy into this analysis – that the revelations have happened now due to an upsurge in working class militancy, and that the ruling class is on the run. I’m not sure that Piers does completely either, as he seems to suggest towards the end of his comment that how much it is a defeat for the ruling class depends on whether a movement is built on the issue. He then shows how little the hacking scandal has impacted on support for the various parties, and indication of a lack of a movement.

    In some ways, this is all reminiscent of the expenses scandal, which seems to have just increased working class cynicism about MPs. Of course, it is a bigger issue, not least because it involves police and media corruption and scandal, as well as MPs. Also, the subsequent changes may be greater – like measures in relation to media ownership, and monitoring schmoozing between various sectors of the ruling class. If the scandal extends to the USA, then the most positive outcome could be the discrediting of Fox News.

    • I guess what I was trying to get across in the first piece was two things: first that there must have been some trigger for this all to come out now – when it relates to information that has been sitting there for years. Secondly that it just so happens that over the past couple of years the ruling class has gone through something of a crisis – political and economic – that has had an impact on its traditional sense of unity and internal solidarity. To what degree it manages to hold together nonetheless will to an extent depend on the amount of external pressure – from objective factors and from the working class. It is therefore possible that the timing of this scandal’s eruption is the product of the working through of these pressures weakening the bonds of internal solidarity among the various forces at play in the drama.

      That is not the same thing as saying it is a product of a defeat of the ruling class.

      However once it erupted it inevitably caused huge problems across the board (for Murdoch empire, police, politicians and anyone otherwise tainted). This, and the outpouring of public anger (expressed through twitter and petitions as Jane Kelly points out) has led to serious defeats for a major global capitalist player. Those aren’t strategic set backs. But it is an opening, a situation of weakness that the working class can and should take advantage of.

      But that doesn’t mean a strategic victory for the working class. As I suggest in the second piece, in the absence of a an organised movement capable of pressing demands the bourgeoisie will make it’s own efforts to recover and rebuild with only the most token and superficial reforms. As matters stands, I think that is presently the most likely outcome. But it can be turned around.

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