“This can be the beginning of a big movement for a free press in Britain.”
That’s how Tony Benn described the anger around Rupert Murdoch’s empire, and its cosy relationship with the government and the police.
He was speaking at a packed meeting of 250 media workers and activists in London yesterday (Tuesday).
The meeting was organised by members of the NUJ journalists’ union and supported by the Defend the Right to Protest campaign.
Meeting chair, Dave Crouch, news editor of the Financial Times, said, “We can be certain that Rupert Murdoch won’t go down without a fight.”
This meeting was part of organising to push forward that fight.
NUJ president Michelle Stanistreet told the audience that it should come as no surprise that “systemic abuse” happens at a place where bosses have for decades kept out the NUJ.
Tony Burke, the assistant general secretary of the Unite union, said, “25 years ago Murdoch broke the trade unions at his newspapers.
“He used the extra profits he made from this to make a right wing media empire that extended its tentacles into the political class.”
Burke’s attack brought applause from the many veterans of the Wapping dispute in the audience.
Comedian and UK Uncut activist Johnny Marbles also spoke at the meeting. It was him who shoved a shaving foam pie at Murdoch during his parliamentary committee hearing last week.
“It was a mock trial giving the illusion of justice,” he said of the parliamentary meeting. But, he added, “With hope, tenacity and bravery we can see a world where people who follow in his footsteps get the justice they deserve.”
Speakers from the floor included representatives of Liverpool football fans’ Hillsborough Justice Campaign, and a journalist from Johnston Press who was on his seventh day of strike action.
Campaigning lawyer Matt Foot spoke about the violence of the police over last year’s student protests. “We must not forget that ex-Metropolitan Police commissioner Paul Stephenson was in charge of the fourth demonstration.”
Stephenson was forced to resign during the Murdoch scandal.
Alastair Morgan, the brother of private detective Daniel Morgan, spoke from the floor. Daniel was brutally murdered with an axe in south London in 1987.
Private investigator Jonathan Rees, who was employed by News of the World, was a key suspect in the murder.
Tony Benn said that, “Information is key to political life. That’s why governments keep these things secret.”
The meeting showed the strength and breadth of anger against Murdoch and the ruling elite who have held him up at our expense.
We can now go forward and demand the media we deserve.