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Monday, July 18, 2011

Aye, but nothing............

Despite the arrests, resignations and a whirlwind of all-purpose, late-blooming outrage at the activities of those embroiled in the News Corps scandal, it is clear that there is still a lot of work to be done to detoxify the country from the pall of venality eminating from the Metropolitan Police and News International.

This is nowhere more evident than in the popular but lazy narrative which has it that the phone-hacking and bribery allegations presently circling News Corps like vultures  are simply an extension of the scandals that surrounded the banks and Westminster MPs' expenses. This is an agenda in no small way propagated and gleefully nourished by a media that has been slavishly following Murdoch's line simply to keep a market share. Even when taking issue with either his friends in big business or his media practices, he was setting the tenor of debate. Others sang in either harmony or discord, but Rupert & Son ran the rhythm section.

There are clearly many problems besetting all aspects of public, private, corporate and political life and it could readily be argued that nobodies' hands are squeaky clean: note the cross-party, all-faith-and-none anguish that fills the ether at the suggestion that arms expenditure or export be cut and then ponder its ultimate deadly purpose.

The principle of endemic perfidy as a naturally occuring human pathogen having therefore been established, it is now a question of haggling over scale and here the narrative of moral absolutism breaks down badly.

The banks gambled the nation's wealth on dodgy mortgages in Alabaman shanty towns and lost their shirts and ours. The total of MPs' expenses amounts to what a banker would call a middling bonus, a couple of million, and more was spent recovering it.

Moreover, while I  generally regard all MPs with a default contempt that needs actively persuaded otherwise before it relents, they at least had assets that could be wholly re-appropriated should needs dictate, and it was not a difficult task bringing them to book. The Murdoch press and others made a virtue out of competetive righteousness doing just this. We also had the albeit imperfect redress of the ballot box with which to punish MPs, a nicety Murdoch's brute wealth doesn't recognise. 

Murdoch, the Met or any of their apologists citing the expenses scandal as a benchmark is dangerous, specious, moral equivalence in its basest form and needs dismantled and dispensed with if this unprecedented inquiry is to be politically and socially beneficial in any way, imperatives without which it is doomed to fail. 

This is a singular case and should be tackled as such. Beyond fair, transparent, legal process, there should be no mercy, no plea bargaining, no quarter given to these people. They showed none in their shameless pursuit of lazy copy. They have poisoned the well for far too long. 

More follows....

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