Murdoch is just a small part of a giant establishment conspiracy
July 16, 2011 § Leave a comment
The British, or perhaps specifically the British media, have reacted to the revelations around Rupert Murdoch’s empire with a cocktail of bitter schadenfreude.
One LT writer thinks it’s all just the beginning of necessary exposes
Idevoted this column last week to a topic that has now careered so spectacularly, so majestically, so hilariously, so pitifully out of proportion and control that we are all — yes, including you, newspaper reader — going to be injured by flying wreckage.
For the sane minority among us there’s little that we can usefully say, and nothing to be done but to wait for the madness to subside. Our country is suffering one of its intermittent moral seizures, this time of near-epileptic proportions, and I simply refuse to contribute to the sickness by writing any more about it. I’m moving on.
You can stay if you like, and foam at the mouth for a little longer; or come with me.
I’m going this week where I’m pointed by a tweet that I quoted last week from the political scientist Philip Cowley. There ought to be a phrase in the English language, he remarked, for the shock and indignation apparently felt when something already widely suspected is officially confirmed. Bears and woods, popes and Catholicism, peerages and party donations come to mind. I learnt about Cowley’s syndrome to my very great cost many years ago when I mentioned on Newsnight that Peter Mandelson was gay.
But today, instead of looking back, I shall look forward, pick the figure 20 from the air, and take you through (say) 20 things about modern Britain that millions of us know already that — when in the fullness of time each is finally and authoritatively confirmed — will fill the air with protestations of shock and moral horror.
I enter one plea. Please don’t then ask me to pretend to be shocked. As each in its due time surfaces, please don’t come over all indignant when (as I no doubt shall) I suggest that this news is hardly a surprise. Please don’t protest that (as the deceased Scottish sinner at the gates of Hell protested): “I didna ken.” As the Devil replied to the sinner: “Ye ken noo.” C’mon, reader, ye ken already.
1 Many prison officers are complicit in the supply of drugs within prisons. How else do I reconcile what’s common knowledge — that drug use is rife in prison — with the almost abusive security checks I’ve undergone when I visits friends in prison? Among the reasons for these checks must sometimes be the protection of a monopoly.
2 Nothing like a real competitive market exists among banks or energy suppliers. They are classic cartels, robbing their customers.
3 Many sporting records that still stand — and not just in cycling — have been fuelled by performance-enhancing drugs. Have you noticed the plateauing or even dropping off of many winning times, including in my own former sport of long-distance running? This is because of anti-drug enforcement. There will be more and much bigger stories here than have yet been told.
4 Insider trading. It’s absolutely endemic. In many spheres and all sorts of ways within the financial world, nothing even approaching a free, fair or open market exists. The protection and enhancement of entrenched advantage is, to a far greater degree than capitalist competition, the key dynamic in many markets.
5 The stock exchange has all but lost its original purpose — the financing of new business — and become a turbo-charged, non-stop poker school for a huge, wealthy, essentially unproductive and largely parasitic class. Unfortunately for my argument, Britain makes a lot of money from this.
6 Which goes for another financial story. The slow, centuries-old corruption by greed of the insurance principle. Insurance has become an almighty racket, with millions of naive citizens parted from billions by the unscrupulous sale, often under the guise of independent, best-interests advice, of almost worthless policies. Most — not all — insurance is a con, in which thousands of middlemen collude as agents.
7 The policing of the criminal law is riddled with corruption. The Crown Prosecution Service and the police, not statute, are the real determinant of punishable behaviour. Wide discretion has to be exercised in selecting the tiny minority against whom proceedings are taken. If money has been accepted by corrupt Met officers from the one media corporation on which the spotlight falls today, how many more officers in how many other forces have accepted, and are still accepting, and from whom, how much more in exchange for who can say what?
8 This goes for the Crown Prosecution Service too.
9 The easing of credit that ministers are now pushing so hard, coupled with bizarrely low interest rates, will — as we speak — be drawing millions of our countrymen into debts and mortgages that will strangle them when interest rates rise.
10 Dentistry and the NHS are a murky business where the service and private practice appear to live in a baffling symbiosis on which dentists thrive and for which patients, both paying and would-be NHS users, choose between the queue and financial ruin. Dentistry should be like car repair: it’s only teeth, for God’s sake. Where’s the market?
11 The way that British ministers and mandarins can proceed, within a few years of retirement, to take up positions on the boards of companies in the fields that they have until recently supervised is an absolute disgrace. We’re not talking shades of grey here. It’s outrageous.
12 So is the “government-relations” lobbying industry. We are heading for an American situation in which a whole class of expensive leeches interpose themselves between the government and the citizen.
13 The social services departments of local authorities are an incompetent and occasionally vicious element in public administration, particularly as regards child protection.
14 The way children get allocated to state schools is indefensible, and a huge anxiety to parents.
15 The public sector is chronically incapable even of understanding, let alone managing, large IT projects; and private sector contractors are guilty of daylight robbery.
16 When all is told there will have been some shocking war crimes in Afghanistan. A purpose of war is to kill people. This has been a horrendous experience for many servicemen. Normal human sensibilities will have been degraded. Awful things will have happened and been “covered up”.
17 Euro-mps’ expenses. Enough said.
18 EU budgeting. Enough said.
19 Lawyers. This is a coming storm — coming, I do hope, in my lifetime. MPs have bitten journalists; journalists have bitten MPs; now judges, who hate the media, are about to bite journalists. Sooner or later comes biteback time. That the practice of law in England has for centuries been a stitch-up to enrich a professional monopoly at vast public and private expense is perfectly well known — not least by lawyers, who subliminally know that theirs is not quite a gentleman’s calling. Hence their rather desperate pomposity and self-regard. It must crack.
20 August will be unusually dry or wet