This week we discovered that Rupert Murdoch and his son James knew nothing about the criminal activities that took place in News International, the company they controlled, even though their chief protégé Rebekah Brooks had admitted to a parliamentary select committee as long ago as 2003 that the News of the World (NotW) had paid money to police officers. In fact, in a day of questioning by MPs for the Murdochs, and for ex-senior figures from the Metropolitan Police, Sir Paul Stephenson, and John Yates, we learnt that not one of the people who appeared before the select committees was to blame for the failure to deal with the NotW phone hacking scandal – so that’s all right then.
But it isn’t all right. What we really learnt on Tuesday, including from David Cameron’s flapping speech in Nigeria, is that Britain is run by a collusive class of chums who are well paid to run things but don’t really appear to know what is going on - or is it rather that they choose not to know about certain goings on? Of course, not knowing about wrongdoing may be a defence against criminality but it isn’t a defence against incompetence, complacency, negligence and poor management.
These are the same people, the media moguls who have a corrupting influence on our democracy, the policemen who have lost their moral compass, and the spineless politicians, the very same people who meet at parties in Oxfordshire and posh restaurants in London. The hearings at the parliamentary select committees served to confirm what we already suspected, that Britain is a corrupt society, a turnip republic where people are on the make, driven by power and profit, a society dominated by banks and other capitalist corporations.
But hang on, that’s how it supposed to be isn’t it? This is UK Plc after all, go getting, ‘free’ market Britain, where private gain is good, the market is to be worshiped and public welfare is old fashioned nonsense. A place where you are meant to trample over others to get to the top, where paying your fair share of taxes makes you some kind of sucker. This neoliberal enslavement of our society to the market, which is being driven by our ruling capitalist class, and their tame politicians in the mainstream parties, is leading to inevitable economic decline. In other words - the very people who tell us they can make us all richer are really making us all poorer. And, as we continue to become poorer our society will become more brutal, repressive, corrupt and unequal. As I said in a recent post about Thatcherism and the Arab Spring – as Egypt struggles to become more like us, we are becoming daily more like Egypt’
If we want to live a fair and more equal society we have to tame the market and make everyone pay their fair contribution to our common welfare. We can do this by re-asserting democracy and putting our people at the heart of our economy. To do the latter we need a strong public sector, and a mixed economy where capitalism has largely been replaced by a sustainable social market. The alternative is decline; morally, socially and economically. We have reached a moment in history which is akin to the time when the Roman Empire declined and collapsed. Then, as now, almost no one believed that the collapse was possible but the warning signs were there for all to see.