Cameron sinking with Murdoch ship?

by Daphne Liddle

THE CON-DEM coalition came under renewed pressure over the News International phone-hacking scandal when the House of Commons Culture, Media and Sport Committee delivered its verdict that Rupert Murdoch is “not a fit person” to run a company and that the broadcasting industry watchdog, Ofcom, should consider revoking BSkyB’s broadcasting licence unless it banishes Murdoch from its boardroom.

The four Tories on that 10-person committee opposed the use of such strong criticisms and throughout the committee’s deliberations tried to defend Murdoch, while the single Liberal Democrat committee member, Adrian Sanders, voted with Labour.

Louise Mensch, one of the four Tories described Murdoch as: “One of the greatest newspaper men the world has ever seen”. And she claimed: “We didn’t take a shred of evidence on whether or not Rupert Murdoch is a fit person to run an international company.” Perhaps she had her hearing aid turned off throughout.

The Liberal Democrats wrote to Ofcom on Tuesday urging it to hasten its review, showing that Adrian Sanders was no maverick but had the support of his party.

The report of the Culture, Media and Sport Committee said on page 70: “If at all relevant times, Rupert Murdoch did not take steps to become fully informed about phone-hacking, he turned a blind eye and exhibited wilful blindness to what was going on in his companies and publications.


“This culture, we consider, permeated from the top throughout the organisation and speaks volumes about the lack of effective corporate governance at News Corporation and News International.

“We conclude therefore that Rupert Murdoch is not a fit person to exercise the stewardship of a major international company”.

Prime Minister David Cameron has also tried to shelter Murdoch and his minions from the outfall of the scandal.

When the Leveson inquiry revealed the role of Adam Smith, special advisor to Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt, as a conduit of inside information on the Government’s deliberations over allowing News International to increase its shareholding in BSkyB from 39.1 per cent to a controlling share, Leveson declared that Hunt’s position was outside his remit. It would be for Cameron to decide whether Hunt had breached the ministerial code of conduct.

But Cameron has refused to take any action and accepted at face value Hunt’s claims that he has done nothing wrong.

This is reflecting very badly on Cameron. Now he, like Murdoch, is deliberately turning a blind eye on strong evidence of possible corruption.

The strong language used by the Culture, Media and Sports Committee has had repercussions around the globe, with many of Murdoch’s rivals and enemies sharpening their knives to try to ensure that the Murdoch empire does not recover its former position of dominance.

And a further source of division between the Tories and Lib-Dems is emerging over the Lib-Dem Bill on reform of the House of Lords. Backbench Tory MPs are complaining it will take up so much time in the House of Commons they wont be able to get other pressing legislation through.

But the Coalition itself is becoming more and more shaky.

All the more reason for the organised working class to step up its actions to bring down the whole sorry government.