Workers' Fight workplace bulletin editorials, 11 July 2011

Workers' Fight workplace bulletin editorials
11 July 2011

The News of the World phone hacking scandal just gets bigger. Yet this is hardly the first time that newspapers have been responsible for causing untold distress to victims of crime, disasters, or other serious misfortune.

We all know that the media moguls reckon that scandal sells newspapers, and how Murdoch's press specialises in this "news of the screws".

But today, of course, the scandal is them. And the disgrace is that, as a result, people who have nothing to do with hacking may have to pay for it - like the vast majority of the workforce who are faced with uncertainty now. Having the possibility of transfer to a "Sun on Sunday" is hardly reassuring when the Sun itself may well come under the hacking spotlight, sooner rather than later.

Police commissioners in the dock

The other dimension - and maybe the most important - is, however, the role of the police.

This Tuesday a Commons Committee was told by the Met commissioner in charge of the "new" police investigation, that the police will contact all 13,000 names and numbers which may have been hacked, personally, to talk to them! They are desperately trying to rescue the reputation of the Met in the eyes of the public. Because the "law enforcers" obviously have not been enforcing the law!

This hacking by journalists of phones of victims, celebrities, politicians and anyone who may have been in the public eye, first came to light in 2003, even before the scandal in 2005/6. The police were never interested in investigating the matter too deeply, because swimming around in its murky waters were numerous police officers!

So when the 2009 police enquiry was launched under Yates, Scotland Yard's Number 3, it did not even go through all of the evidence. He implied that "hacking" was not an important crime. But of course 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 tabloid stories and that they have always been, even before newspaper hacks began serious hacking of mobiles!

The disrepute of the state's machinery

The issue is even bigger than the reputation of the police, though. Because this scandal goes even further - it goes to the top of the state. If the police were involved in a cover-up - and they were, then how could the country's political leaders - in 2005-6 it was Blair, and today it is David Cameron - not also be responsible? In fact there have been several "parliamentary enquiries" over the course of these years which also came to nothing. And in order to protect the so-called "integrity of the state" what extremes do the institutions of the state not go to?

One only has to recall the death (by suicide) of David Kelly, when there was a threat that the truth might out, over Blair's prior knowledge of the absence of Iraq's "weapons of mass destruction".

Or further back in time, the John Stalker enquiry which found out about state involvement in "shoot-to-kill" in Northern Ireland - so the government trashed top copper Stalker's findings and his reputation, forcing him to "retire".

Indeed there are no lengths to which the state will not go, in order to protect itself from the scrutiny of ordinary people - the "public". Not least with public enquiries specially designed to reveal nothing!

Not one is "fit and proper"

So today, when Cameron's dealings with Andy Coulson, ex-News of the World editor, come out, it says a lot about the to-ings and fro-ings between politicians and the press. Nor is Miliband, or any former Labour PM, unsullied - they loved wining and dining, especially before elections, with Rupert Murdoch. Politics is dirty at all levels, but they do not like us to see what goes on right at the dirty top.

This is why the issue of whether Murdoch is allowed to bid for BSkyB, which is Labour's main response to the scandal - is irrelevant. Murdoch is probably not a "fit and proper" person to run anything. Has he ever been? 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!

Is it not even more "appalling" - a word used a lot to describe the hacking scandal - that private businessmen and speculators behind them, can decide the fate of 31,000 residents of Southern Cross Care Homes, because Labour and Tory ministers allowed vital social services to fall into the hands of profiteers? Are any of those involved in this scandal, all the way to the top, "fit and proper"?

Of course Miliband and Cameron are not too bothered about that. They are too busy trying to shore up their own shaky reputations and that of the machinery that props up the British capitalist system... Which is far more important, isn't it?