The dirt of big money and politics - all over the machinery of the state

Workers' Fight workplace bulletin editorials
18 July 2011

The News of the World phone hacking scandal keeps getting bigger, with more heads rolling by the day. Yet this is hardly the first time that newspapers have caused distress to victims of crime, disasters, or other serious misfortune. Media moguls always used scandal to sell newspapers and everyone knew that Murdoch's press specialised in "news of the screws".

But today, of course, the scandal is them - and not only them. The scandal is also the police force and the politicians with each blaming the other. And the disgrace is that, as a result, people with nothing to do with hacking may have to pay for it - like the majority of News of the World workers who are faced with uncertainty now. The possibility of transfer to a "Sun on Sunday" is hardly reassuring when the Sun itself may well come under the hacking spotlight. Not to mention the rest of the press.

Police commissioners in the dock

Maybe the most important dimension to this scandal is role of the police. Who would have believed that 2 of country's top cops would resign - with "Sir" Paul Stephenson actually pointing a finger at the PM himself, implying he should resign too, since both of them had employed former Murdoch hacks!

Did anyone resign over the corruption and racism from top to bottom in the Met when Stephen Lawrence's killers went free in 1993? Even today, Cressida Dick, the cop who gave the order to shoot innocent electrician Jean Charles de Menezes in the head, in the hysteria after 7/07, is rewarded with one of the now vacant positions in Scotland Yard!

But the cops are worried. The Met commissioner in charge of the "new" police investigation, told a Commons Committee that they will contact all 13,000 names and numbers which may have been hacked, personally! They want to rescue the Met's reputation given the "law enforcers" obviously have not enforced the law!

Since the first hacking came to light in 2003, even before the first incident in 2005/6, the police was never willing to investigate the matter too deeply, because swimming around in its murky waters were numerous police officers.

So when the 2009 police enquiry was launched under the Met's now ex-Number 3, it did not even go through all the evidence. He implied that "hacking" was not important. But the real problem he had, was elsewhere. No way did he want it to come out that leaky coppers were and are, a regular source of news stories and that they have always been - with or without actual "bungs".

The scandal goes to the top of the state, however. It is not just that Cameron employed Andy Coulson ex-editor of NoW as his advisor. If the police were involved in a cover-up - and they were, then how could the country's political leadership - in 2005-6 under Blair, then Brown, and today under Cameron - not also be responsible?

The disrepute of the state's machinery

There were several "parliamentary enquiries" over the course of these years, which came to absolutely nothing. And in fact, to protect the so-called "integrity of the state" the state's institutions have been known to go to almost any extreme.

Recall the death (by suicide) of David Kelly when the truth threatened to come out over Blair's prior knowledge of the absence of Iraq's "weapons of mass destruction". Or further back, top cop John Stalker's enquiry which uncovered that the state was involved in "shoot-to-kill" in Northern Ireland. His findings and reputation were trashed. Now there is another suicide - of Sean Hoare, former NoW journalist. Convenient, but "not suspicious"?

In fact we are again witnessing the lengths that state will go to, to protect itself from the scrutiny of ordinary people. Not least with 'public' enquiries designed to reveal nothing! There are now 10 commissions of enquiries announced over hacking!

Not one is "fit and proper"

Today, when we hear who is in bed with whom, it says it all about the to-ings and fro-ings between politicians, the police and the press. Nor is Miliband, or any former Labour PM, unsullied - Labour ministers loved dining with Rupert Murdoch, until the Sun switched its allegiance to Cameron in 2010.

Politics is dirty at all levels, but politicians do not like us to see what goes on right at the dirty top. Indeed, whether Murdoch is allowed to bid for BSkyB, or control 40% of British media - Labour's main response to the scandal - is irrelevant. Murdoch was probably never a "fit and proper" person to run anything. But in this capitalist world, being decent or publicly-minded has nothing to do with the price of eggs - or rather it is only the price of eggs which matters!

Miliband and Cameron are not too bothered about the dirty profit system and its fall-out for ordinary people. They are too busy trying to shore up their own shaky reputations and that of the machinery that props up it up... Which is far more important, isn't it?