25 Jun 2014

It’s not just phones that have been hacked, it’s British power

It is not about hacking and News International and it never was.

It is about totalitarianism.

The finding of guilt against Andy Coulson makes him only one of a number of senior News International journalists who have already pleaded guilty.

Former editor of the News of the World Andy Coulson travels in a taxi cab after leaving the Old Bailey courthouse in London

Thus the Great Wapping Lie that it was just the odd rotten apple is exposed. It was a rotten orchard. It was criminality on an industrial scale.

And with a prime ministerial apology for getting too close to Murdoch-land it goes to where this mess belongs – the very top.

Because it was never about mere hacking. It was about what the Murdoch empire achieved – turning septic the very epicentres of power in our land. The lessons of this is that this is precisely what took place year after year after year.

Successive prime ministers and cabinets part-seduced , part-intimidated by the power of Murdoch-land on the one hand and fear of his empire on the other.

The same psychosis ran true for so many MPs, many of who have candidly admitted to me and many others, that this was the case.

The same cancer spread through the most powerful police forces in the land and who knows what other areas of high officialdom.

The abiding fear throughout them all, that if they did not keep in with Wapping, their dustbins, their private lives, their cupboards and their skeletons would be next.

Stanley Baldwin would not entertain the company of press barons. Today he looks a statesman after the antics of Tony Blair, Gordon Brown and David Cameron desperately out-schmoozing each other other for scraps thrown for the table of the House of Murdoch.

Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron speaks during a joint news conference with NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen in Downing Street, central London

It corrupted prime ministerial judgement and now we have the apology to prove it. Political commentators call this “embarrassing”. I suggest it is a great deal more serious than that.

Therein lies the key lesson for this sorry saga. The fear has to end. The cosying has to stop.

The absurd fantasy that The Sun could win you an election – and the fear that Wapping can go through your dustbins was wrong in the first thought, corrosive in the second.

Shame upon shame that it took the foul and unspeakable antics over Millie Dowler’s phone (and other young murder victims) to bring our politicians and out police forces to their belated senses. That should remain a serious stain on the workings of the British state.

In that at least, poor Millie Dowler leaves our battered democracy with a painful and valuable legacy.

Not since the spectre of world war has any outfit so successfully threatened the power of our supposedly democratic institutions.

The trade unions never came this close in the seventies, nor Arthur Scargill in the early eighties, not bankers in this century.

So no, this was never just about hacking.

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