The News International scandal is just the tip of the iceberg of unelected oligarchies and corporate power in Britain’s democracy

David Beetham writes:

The News International scandal has rightly caused public outrage and led to a sea-change in relations between UK politicians and media moguls. Yet Murdoch’s empire has been only part of a much wider structure of unaccountable power which has exercised a dominant influence over British politics and policy making in the past two decades or more. This ‘unelected oligarchy’ extends to the corporate sector as a whole, including the major financial and banking institutions.

To be sure News International has been unique in its descent to pervasive illegality to maximise sales and profits. Yet it shares the same features that have compromised British democracy from across the corporate sector. These include the use of offshore tax havens, complex legal entities and transfer pricing to minimise the tax contribution of businesses to our public services. They have shared a common anti-public sector agenda which has shaped public opinion and government policy alike: privatisation and outsourcing of government functions and services; cutting the ‘burden’ of government regulation and promoting self-regulation; lowering taxes, especially on business and the wealthy; remedying the deficit in public finances in short order. This agenda has become embedded at the heart of government through a range of corporate stratagems – personal contact with politicians, lobbying power, financing political parties and think tanks, the ‘revolving door’ between business and government appointments, joint partnerships, corporate hospitality, and so on – which have brought governments of all parties under their sway.

The Guardian reports:

Glenn Mulcaire, the private investigator at the centre of the News of the World phone-hacking scandal, has said that he only ever acted on instructions from his employers.

The day after revelations that Sara Payne’s phone may have been targeted by Mulcaire, who worked for the News of the World for several years before being jailed for intercepting voicemail messages in early 2007, the statement issued by his solicitors firmly pushed the spotlight back on his former News International employers.

Mulcaire said he was “effectively employed” by the News of the World from 2002 until 2007 “to carry out his role as a private investigator”.

“As he accepted when he pleaded guilty in 2007 to charges of phone interception he admits that his role did include phone hacking. As an employee he acted on the instructions of others,” said the statement.

“There were also occasions when he understood his instructions were from those who genuinely wished to assist in solving crimes. Any suggestion that he acted in such matters unilaterally is untrue. In the light of the ongoing police investigation, he cannot say any more.”

Reuters reports:

Rupert Murdoch’s biographer says the Murdoch family will no longer be running News Corporation in 60 days’ time, and predicts a massive shake-up at the company as it tries to detach itself from a family name he describes as “toxic.”

“I think actually the Murdochs have to and will step out of not only day-to-day running, but they won’t have jobs within the company,” writer Michael Wolff told Reuters Insider TV late on Thursday.

Wolff said the days of embattled News Corp chief Rupert Murdoch and his son James were numbered because of their handling of a phone hacking scandal that has engulfed the U.S. company’s British newspaper operations.

He said he expected them to step down within two months.

“To restore credibility and to restore trust to this company, the newspapers have to go and the Murdochs have to go,” said Wolff, a Vanity Fair columnist and editorial director of advertising industry magazine Adweek.

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2 thoughts on “The News International scandal is just the tip of the iceberg of unelected oligarchies and corporate power in Britain’s democracy

  1. Christopher Hoare

    Here comes the Sun!

    The day when the right wing control of western democracies is defeated is beginning to dawn. The power of the lobbies, the big ticket financial donors, and the think tanks is in the cross-hairs and the general public is finally awakening to the understanding that the rich and powerful became that on the backs of the rest of society.

    Get rid of the Murdochs today and work to eliminate the right wing propaganda organs like Fox Lies tomorrow.

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