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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11 reader comments

  1. David Preston says:

    The power belongs to that group who run the Global Economy and who tell G7 and the rest what they want done. The bankers serve these people; the ones who ran the banks got greedy and became corrupt but they did not rule in any sense of the word. Democracy does not exist; we are merely in a modern feudal system, serving the elite few and the morons who keep them in power.

  2. harvey says:

    You write in the past tense towards the end.

    Last week 50,000 marched against ‘Austerity’ in Central London and until at least 6pm that evening not one public or private media source in Uk reported it.
    RT and Al Jazeera did however.

    The Media in this country is still a sick joke.

  3. Vivienne E Heatley says:

    All we can do is just this! Keep the Public properly informed. If none of our newspapers have ‘the bottle’ make it more public just by putting it on Facebook for starters.

  4. Mike Grayton says:

    I am sure that a lot of people, including me, agree with you but so what? I can see no way of changing the current status quo. Are we to look forward to years more of the Murdoch clan, and the other press barons, pushing our politicians around for their own benefit? The answer seems to be Yes. All very depressing.

  5. Richie says:

    Come the revolution Alex!

  6. Clinton says:

    Excellent work as always only from channel 4 news, It is truly disturbing how new corp got so attached to the powers that be, we do need a free press for the right reasons not the wrong ones, this was defiantly wrong.

  7. Philip says:

    What’s more – it’s barely changed! What has come out of Leveson – zilch! (Kicked into the long grass until after the next general election)

  8. Philip Edwards says:


    I don’t think anybody could have said it better.

    Thank you.

    Whatever muck is thrown at you, PLEASE NEVER CHANGE.

  9. David Britten says:

    Murdoch, this Antipodean megalomaniac, has thoroughly poisoned further an already rotten democratic system. The only upside of this is that the rot is now so exposed, it can no longer be sustained except with brutal force. And we now see the beginnings of a fascist state developing in this corporate controlled country. I predict a riot.

  10. Susan Galea says:

    Totally agree. Our democracy was hopelessly subverted by the craven politicians nobbled by the Murdoch Hegemon, and yet the subornation of our politicians is still a distinct possibility. We just need to consider Boris and Gove kowtowing to Murdoch to know that he lurks in the shadows still controlling his puppets.

    The cat’s cradle of political actors, press and police has been exposed as rotten and hopelessly entangled, but there is really nothing to suggest that it will unravel as a result of anything exposed so far. Leveson is being stymied by the press, ably and cravenly bolstered by our current rotten government. With this sense of entrenched entitlement, the hope for democratic accountability and integrity remains forlorn.

  11. Kate says:

    Excellent article,Alex!

    Richie and David Britten – if only!
    Nothing short of riot/ revolution is required but will we rise up or let the time-honoured, cliché- ridden drivel which follows all these enquiries/ trials -be they into press, police, political shenanigans etc – ” lessons will be learned”, ” take steps to see it never happens again”, ” an error of judgement” blahblahblah – be reeled out yet again to fob us off? What mugs we are!

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