By Simon Basketter
Downloading PDF. Please wait... Issue 2260

Toxic rot goes right to the top

This article is over 12 years, 7 months old
The News International phone hacking scandal has revealed the poison coursing through the veins of the establishment.
Issue 2260

The News International phone hacking scandal has revealed the poison coursing through the veins of the establishment.

The networks of corruption at the very top of British society are starting to unravel.

We are seeing the places where democracy is never allowed— where real power lies.

The unaccountable people who hoard money and influence are now in the spotlight. And the whole thing stinks.

This is about far more than journalism. Rupert Murdoch’s huge empire is in crisis, and has closed one of its flagship titles, the News of the World.


The news that ex-prime minister Gordon Brown had his bank accounts, family medical records and legal files illicitly accessed by agents of the Sun and the Sunday Times is just one wave in a tide of shocking revelations.

News International’s chief executive Rebekah Brooks and Andy Coulson both edited the News of the World at the height of the phone hacking.

Both are friends with David Cameron. Coulson was Cameron’s chief spin doctor until late last year. Cameron appointed him with full knowledge of his role in the affair.

According to Cameron, “I wasn’t given any specific information about Andy Coulson. I don’t recall being given any information.” But politicians and journalists specifically warned Cameron’s office about Coulson.

Cameron still stands by him, because this cosy clique build up personal ties that bind together their grubby shared interest—doing over the poor.

Cameron isn’t some peripheral figure in all this. He and the Tories are at its centre.

Coulson was arrested last week, but with a polite request to attend a police station. There was no dawn raid at his house, or riot cops kicking down the gates of News International in Wapping.

That isn’t how it is done if you are part of the establishment.

The police are at the heart of the corruption.

Emails from 2007 show that cops were paid for stories. But these emails were only handed over in evidence to the Metropolitan Police last month.

Coulson is implicated in the emails, which are said to show he knew about payments of £120,000 to three police officers.

Unsurprisingly, only 300 of the 2,500 emails can be found.

There is much talk of a new inquiry. In the past week we have gone from Rebekah Brooks investigating how the hacking scandal happened under Rebekah Brooks, to the Metropolitan Police investigating the corruption of the Metropolitan Police.

Now we are to be offered various judicial inquiries. And the latest expansion of Murdoch’s empire—the buyout of BSkyB—has been put on hold.

But much more will be needed.

It is no surprise that the virulently anti-union Murdoch chose to sack the News of the World staff to keep his empire and allies safe.

Murdoch is not an “evil” capitalist—he is a good one. That’s why he has been courted by politicians, including those in New Labour, for many years.

Crises bring the relations between politics, business and the state to the foreground.

They show that a system of exploitation, theft and competition will put everything at the service of the market.

The growing resistance to the nasty, but fragile, coalition government helped fuel the atmosphere of panic that led to the scandal growing.

This can feed people’s rage against bosses and the government.

The people at the top think they can get away with anything.

Collectively, they make the lives of millions a misery. Collectively, we can bring them down.

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