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Uncompromising fanaticism in favour of the rich now rules on both sides of the Atlantic

There was rejoicing when the US House of Representatives finally passed the deal to lift the debt ceiling, just as there was when Osborne sat down in the House at the end of his June 2010 budget. Relief all round for the Republican Tea Party and the Tory Right because the monstrous excesses of their own greed and recklessness were now going to be paid for by the little people, as the heiress Leonora Hemsley so presciently observed that ‘only the little people pay taxes’.

For the Republican Talibans the cost of George Bush’s two decade-long wars and his triple massive giveaways to the super-rich would now be borne by poor Americans in $2.4tn cuts to health and welfare budgets. For the Tory Talibans the cost of the colossal folly of the bankers has now been parked firmly on the the poorest Brits by chopping public expenditure and welfare benefits by £109bn over 4 years. As a former Republican Senator thoughtfully noted, “the little guy is going to be cremated”.

How does the Right do it and get turkeys to vote for Christmas? A large part of the reason is that the Right largely monopolises the thought processes of the population in both the US and the UK. There is ostensibly a free media in both countries, but in practice it is overwhelmingly controlled by the Right. Murdoch’s Fox TV dominates the US news and opinion-forming agenda, while in the UK (though leavened by a balanced BBC) over 70% of the press are controlled from the Right which in the case of the Sun and the Mail spews out a fanatical Right-wing propaganda. It is their relentless message that US spending was far too high, even though largely caused by Bush’s profligacy, and that UK spending was far too high, even though it was overwhelmingly due to the bank bail-out, that has enabled the blame to be so bizarrely shifted from the culpable rich to the victim poor.

We are still only just beginning to understand the full implications of unfettered media power. It’s not just the criminal violation of personal privacy revealed by the hacking scandal, nor the suborning of political leaders in private commercial deals, nor even the intimidation and blackmailing of parliamentarians for fear of exposure of their secret lives. Much more insidious and dangerous is the relentless warping of the nation’s consciousness by private self-serving control of the systems for disseminating news, information and opinion. We have learnt, bitterly, that it cannot be trusted and a wholly different system of checks and balances is now needed. That should certainly include generalising ownership by an independent trust as the sole reliable model for an impartial and balanced media that is the foundation for a properly functioning democracy.

One Comment

  1. oldpolitics says:

    You’ve closed comments on the last post, so sorry to take it here, but it staggers me – genuinely staggers – that you can accuse a comment calling an MP ’embarrassing’ of being ‘playing the player, not the ball’, when that MP is being given free rein to describe party comrades as misogynist racists!

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