Gary Younge writes:
“Action,” argued philosopher Hannah Arendt, “without a name attached to it is meaningless.” It leaves you with objects without subjects and consequences without causes.
So it is with the resignations that have emerged from the phone-hacking scandal so far. Time and again people with huge salaries and immense power acknowledge they had responsibility, but are careful not to concede accountability, for fear that it will suggest culpability. Nobody claims they were just following orders because apparently there were no orders and no one to give them. It appears what we assumed were extremely hierarchical organisations such as News International and the Metropolitan police apparently operated like anarchist collectives.
So with each new revelation – and not before – those who resign concede that “apparently” something terrible was done on their watch but insist that they knew nothing about it nor did anything related to it. They left not because of any wrongdoing but because the wrongs were being done to them – wait for it – by a hostile media. Then they make a break for it to spend more time with their lawyers.
Rebekah Brooks, former News of the World editor and chief executive of News International, said she left because she was feared her presence was “detracting attention from all [her] honest endeavours to fix the problems of the past”.
Andy Coulson, former News of the World editor and prime-ministerial spokesman, said “when the spokesman needs a spokesman, it’s time to move on”.
John Yates, the senior police officer who took just a few hours to dismiss Guardian allegations that the original hacking investigation had been bungled, framed his resignation not as a matter of public disgrace but public service: “This has the potential to be a significant distraction in my current role as the national lead for counter-terrorism. I was unable to give total commitment to the task of protecting London and the country during this period.”
So we have a narrative with no protagonists. Ignorance is claimed lest malfeasance be inferred; a verdict of incompetence is invited in preference to incrimination.