Labour’s Murdoch media meddling should be met with opprobrium

The Labour machine, seeking to undermine the free press for the purpose of political point-scoring, must be met with opprobrium

Labour has been busy point-scoring over the News International scandal
The Commentator
On 21 May 2012 12:26

Even some members of the British House of Commons culture, media and sport select committee would probably, under scrutiny not dissimilar to that which they have placed the indefatigable Rupert Murdoch, admit that the committee is somewhat of a toothless entity.

Realistically, even though they report on the misleading testimonies before them of various News International staff, the ‘unchartered waters’ they find themselves in, as Chairman John Whittingdale put it, means they will unlikely be able to scramble more than a half-hearted apology from the likes of Les Hinton, Colin Myler or Tom Crone – those who the committee have deemed to have either ‘stonewalled, obfuscated or misled’ the committee and its enquiries into the phone hacking scandal that momentarily gripped us all.

The problem now is a familiar one. Government has less power than it feels it should have – in this case not strictly for the employment of justice (though what they can siphon away from the judiciary we’re sure they will) but for the purposes of public relations and political point scoring.

The Labour Party in particular is keen to put the boot into Rupert Murdoch and his media empire for several reasons in particular.

Firstly, the Blair years and the scepter of Gordon Brown loom large in the minds of Labour activists who still feel that Murdoch hugged them close under Tony Blair’s premiership and cast them asunder when Gordon Brown took the reigns at Number 10. There is some truth to this, and woe betides a democracy that rests solely on the political and profiteering perturbations of one man. Worse betide a democracy that feels it should restrict a free market in the name of these concerns while keeping a straight face over the BBC’s monopoly.

Secondly, the Labour Party are (at least they think they are) scoring points with the electorate and shoring up their base of ‘transparency’ and ‘anti-corporatist’ activists, the likes of which you might have seen marching in May Day parades earlier this month, carrying around huge Soviet flags and banners of Joseph Stalin. Jokes aside, the cynical attempts to profiteer and point-score from this admittedly scurrilous series of events will leave Labour’s legs akimbo over the coming electoral period. A wise man once said, “Never pick a fight with a man who buys his ink by the barrel.” 

This leads us on nicely to the real reasons behind what is doubtlessly an orchestrated Labour attempt to wrest the levers of the printing presses from the firm grasp of Rupert Murdoch.

For all the Guardianistas and Independent readers out there, there are ten people who read Murdoch papers. For every person who buys the Daily Mirror, there are nearly two people who consume the Daily Mail. You see where we’re going with this? 

Currently, despite the oft-mentioned rise of online outlets and social media, there is still a meaningful market for print distribution newspapers. It’s waning and will have almost half as impactful a role in three election cycles than it does now, but 2015 is Ed Miliband’s concern. No doubt he and his party will continue to stick the knife in wherever it can to ensure that cometh the hour, the Murdoch papers will be truly discredited as a source for independent endorsements of political parties and candidates.

The Labour machine seeking to undermine the free press for these cathartic and electoral reasons must be met with opprobrium. While it is obviously not demonstrable that the above sums up the thought processes of Ed Miliband, we'd be foolish to think otherwise. If cronyism and meddling in the media must stop from Leveson onwards, then Labour must be as accountable as every other party whose feet are being held to the fire.

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