Sunday, 10 July 2011

The phone hacking scandal exposes our sham democracy

I blogged a while ago about our sham democracy, the cosy carve up which means that whoever gets elected, the policies pursued by governments are always the same. The economic crisis caused by the collapse of the banks illustrated this really well, because that crisis lead directly to the sovereign debt crisis, and we have seen that successive governments in countries like Greece and Ireland have toed the party line, and swallowed the neoliberal medicine, to the detriment of the people who elected them. How ironic it is that the electorate in Greece should boot out an incredibly unpopular conservative government, only to replace it with a 'socialist' government which then proves to be even more unpopular, by kow-towing to the IMF and the ECB and introducing yet greater austerity.

So that's how it goes. You have an incredibly unpopular government, you boot it out and elect another government which then goes on to do exactly the same thing. There is only one way to break this cycle - vote for a party which is not neoliberal and has different policies. If that means voting socialist or green - do it!

So what has this all got to do with phone hacking? The essence is that the problems with the banks and Murdoch's media empire are the same - capitalist corporations which have too much power and are out of democratic control. Just as our politicians have ceded power to the banks, they have also ceded it to moguls like Murdoch. News International should never have been allowed to control 40% of the UK press. Sky should never have been allowed to build up a monopoly of satellite TV through exclusive rights to Premier League football. But it was allowed to happen, and in the process our democracy has been undermined and our body politic corrupted. This is what happens when you have unregulated capitalism and 'free' market fanatics in government. The sad reality is that there is no change in sight. Murdoch may have his wings clipped for a while, but the neoliberal juggernaut moves on, crushing decency, democracy and freedom in its path.

I'd just like to finish this post with two pertinent quotes from an article in today's Telegraph (my italics):

"There were those who believed that Murdoch had debased and debauched British public life, and there is indeed great evidence that this was the case. For example, the News of the World was a respectable – if racy – family newspaper before Murdoch brought it under his ownership. As we now know, it converted into a flourishing criminal concern that took an evil pleasure in destroying people’s lives."

"The bitter truth is that no major figure in British public life was prepared to take on and expose the Murdoch newspaper empire. Rival proprietors were silent. Senior public figures did not dare to speak out for fear of exposure and attack in the Murdoch newspapers. This is why, for more than a generation, Rupert Murdoch’s empire has been a spider at the heart of an intricate web that has poisoned British public life. "

Strange it is though that a paper which can see the shortcomings of Cameron and speak with loathing about Rupert Murdoch will be trumpeting the wonders of the 'free' market which is the real engine of inequality, poverty and the corruption it so rightly condemns.

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