The Murdoch phone-hacking frenzy morphing into a far bigger picture of elite corruption in Britain is now in full spate. The country is ruled by a closed network between banks and international finance, mega-corporations, the small clique round No.10, an aggressive media, and an indifferent police/MI5 security system. Every one of them has now been corrupted by the collapse of regulation and accountability which has accompanied, indeed gave birth to, the neoliberal capitalism founded on the premise that government was bad and unfettered markets and deregulation of almost all controls was the best way to run societies. It was the best way for elites to run society because they increasingly got their way on everything and moulded a society in their own image, while employing oodles of PR and media consultants to persuade everyone elese that it was really in their interests too. The results being slowly uncovered show how far Britain has steadily transmuted from democracy into oligarchy.
The deregulation of finance by Thatcher in the 1980s led directly to the banking implosion in 2008-9. The abolition of exchange controls in 1979-80, the competitive undermining of corporate tax duties and the offshoring of vast sums (in excess of $11 trillions) in tax havens has drastically curtailed State revenues and minimised public welfare. The growth of market power in the hands of the banks, multi-nationals and media led successive political leaders to court, indeed slavishly pay homage to, these agglomerations of private power (most notably Brown in his sycophantic Mansion House speeches to the bankers, Osborne in his capitulation to the corporates over tax, Blair in his effusive deference to the Murdoch court in Australia in 1995). A rapacious press not only extracted political danegeld for any electoral support calculatedly given, but provided the means for the ideological dissemination of the neoliberal agenda. The police succumbed to the Murdoch tentacles (the constantly revolving door between News International and Scotland Yard).
Cameron tried this week in parliament to draw a line under this spreading toxic contagion, but failed. Too many loose ends were left unclosed. He “never had any inappropriate conversations” with Murdoch (about BSkyB) – painfully reminiscent of Clinton’s “I never had sex with that woman (Monica Lewinsky)”. Yet he had 26 meetings with News International executives in a 15-month period when getting full control of BSkyB was Murdoch’s central objective – hard to believe it was never mentioned, let alone discussed exhaustively. Murdoch was the first person called in my Cameron in May 2010 to thank him for support in his election victory – difficult to believe he offered this hard-nosed demandeur merely wine and chocolates. Cameron was also forced to admit that Coulson was only given ’basic’ security clearance when he entered No.10, not the ‘developed’ clearance that would be expected, and Cameron was also curiously coy about the private firm clearance Coulson also had (in fact from Control Risks Screening). This whole story is going to develop a lot further yet.