THE 'NEWS OF THE WORLD' SCANDAL & BRITISH PUBLIC LIFE
"David Cameron, who has returned from Afghanistan as a profoundly damaged figure, now faces exactly such a crisis. The series of disgusting revelations concerning his friends and associates from Rupert Murdoch’s News International has permanently and irrevocably damaged his reputation.
Until now it has been easy to argue that Mr Cameron was properly grounded with a decent set of values. Unfortunately, it is impossible to make that assertion any longer. He has made not one, but a long succession of chronic personal misjudgments.
He should never have employed Andy Coulson, the News of the World editor, as his director of communications. He should never have cultivated Rupert Murdoch. And – the worst mistake of all – he should never have allowed himself to become a close friend of Rebekah Brooks, the chief executive of the media giant News International, whose departure from that company in shame and disgrace can only be a matter of time.
We are talking about a pattern of behaviour here. Indeed, it might be better described as a course of action. Mr Cameron allowed himself to be drawn into a social coterie in which no respectable person, let alone a British prime minister, should be seen dead.
It was called the Chipping Norton set, an incestuous collection of louche, affluent, power-hungry and amoral Londoners, located in and around the Prime Minister’s Oxfordshire constituency. Brooks and her husband, the former racing trainer Charlie Brooks, live in a house scarcely a mile from David and Samantha Cameron’s constituency home. The two couples meet frequently, and have continued to do so long after the phone hacking scandal became well known.
PR fixer Matthew Freud, married to Mr Murdoch’s daughter Elisabeth, is another member of this Chipping Norton set. When Mr Cameron bumped into Freud at Rebekah Brooks’s wedding two years ago, he and Mr Freud greeted each other with exuberant high-fives to signal their exclusive friendship.
So the Prime Minister is in a mess. To put the matter rather more graphically, he is in a sewer. The question is this: how does he crawl out and salvage at least some of his reputation for decency and good judgment?".
Peter Obourne, "David Cameron is in the sewer because of his News International Friends." The Daily Telegraph. 8 July 2011, in www.telegraph.co.uk.
"A Statesman is an easy man, He tells his lies by rote; A journalist makes up his lies and he takes you by the throat; So stay at home and drink your beer and let the neighbors vote. Because this age and the next age engender in the ditch, No man can tell a happy man From a passing wretch; If Folly link with elegance no man knows which is which."
William Butler Yeats, "The Old Stone Cross," in The Collected Poems of W. B. Yeats (1956), p. 314.
The miasma of corruption that is the 'telephone hacking' scandal in the United Kingdom is a most wretched business. Ordinarily it would not be a matter that I would care to comment on, except for the fact that: i) the whole business encapsulates the vulgarity and stupidity of both modern-day life and politics. That a plebeian and infra dig publication like the News of the World and its sub-human owners the Murdoch clan and their henchmen, were able to play such an important role in British public life as outlined by the Telegraph's chief political correspondent, Peter Obourne, is distressing in the extreme. Particularly, since such trends are observable throughout the Western World in the last half century if not longer; ii) I rely upon the British press for much of my own reading on a regular basis: from the daily Financial Times, to weeklies such as the Spectator & the TLS, as well as the London Review of Books and the Literary Review among others. What is to my mind one of the most unfortunate aspects of the entire business as outlined in Obourne's piece is that the current British Prime Minister, Mr. Cameron, and the Chancellor, Mr. Osborne, would allow themselves to become intimate with such obvious cads and bounders from the Murdoch circle as Mr. Coulson and Mlle. Brooks. What could they be thinking of? As Mr.Obourne correctly notes, they en faite, allowed themselves to sink into the sewer that is the News International apparatus. One can hardly imagine that either Lord Home or Harold MacMillan would have displayed such ill-judgment as to associate themselves with such odious creatures. All one needs to do is to paraphrase, Gladstone in reference to such a familial crew to sum them up, tutti quanti:
"There was never a Murdoch from Rupert of Adelaide on down, that had either morals or principles."