As the evidence mounts this week of the Prime Minister’s close connection to News International, a Slog investigation sheds light upon an exclusive club of souls owned by shadowy proprietors….and David Cameron is an integral part of it.
This morning, the Slog ran a soundly-sourced gossip piece suggesting that the Prime Minister David Cameron is looking in the direction of Will Lewis – a News International senior honcho – as the replacement for Andy Coulson, the disgraced former News of the World editor. Lewis left his Daily Telegraph post last year. He now reports to Rebekah Wade/Brooks. Rebekah Wade/Brooks entertained the Prime Minister over the Christmas break. Today the Independent revealed that she secretly smuggled into her house on that day…..none other than James Murdoch, son of Newscorp mogul Rupert Murdoch. James is a pivotal player in the Newscorp bid to take over the rest of BskyB. This morning, Culture Minister Jeremy Hunt announced he would give the Murdochs ‘further time’ to build a defence against referral of their bid to the MMC. Meanwhile, patriarch Rupert flew in to join the melee.
It sounds like the catch-up to a Dallas-style soap, doesn’t it? Now read on…
Regular Slog readers will be aware of my view that the Telegraph has turned more nasty, more underhand, and more anti-Cameron in the last year or so. In particular, it has led a concerted campaign to destroy Vince Cable by using unwarranted recordings (which clearly broke reporting rules) and giving the Business Secretary a pasting for his views on the banks….views shared by the vast majority of British voters.
What, you might wonder, has this to do with the gradual exposure of News International as a global group widely believed to have been engaged in the illegal tapping of VIP mobile phones?
Just this: Telegraph owners the Barclay Brothers are even more mysteriously will-o-the-wisp than the Newscorp family dynasty. And they are in turn widely suspected of hard-right-wing views and a desire to adopt the extremist tone of Paul Dacre’s mean-spirited Daily Mail at the Telegraph. (Dominic Lawson speaks of them in private as ‘relentlessly interfering’ in editorial comment and policy).
The evidence for this is hard to deny: following the hiring of Associated chief Murdoch McLennan, Tony Gallagher was also signed from the Mail as Daily Telegraph editor. It was he who sanctioned the publication of anti-Murdoch statements by Cable on 26th November last…comments that led to his removal from a controling influence on the Newscorp BskyB bid. The change in newsroom culture has been cemented by the arrival of a cadre of former Daily Mail executives. Others include the Sunday Telegraph editor, Ian MacGregor, and Chris Evans, the head of news at the Daily Telegraph.
But why would Mail hardmen work with Barclay brothers henchman to save Newscorp’s skin – given that in normal circumstances they are fierce rivals? Because the defence of privilege makes strange bedfellows of us all, perhaps. We might just as well ask why, when there was no place for wunderkind Will Lewis in the new Re-Mailed Telegraph set-up, a place was quickly found for him near the top at Newscorp. Except in that instance, there are clues.
Aidan Barclay – a twins son who chairs the Telegraph Group – is a great admirer of Will Lewis and his internet savvy. The two men phone and confer on a regular basis, and have stayed in touch. Now his man is in the frame for the Communications job at Number Ten.
Aidan Barclay appears to be contemptuous of elected representative power: he turned down four invitations to appear before a House of Lords communications committee investigating media ownership, saying it was not in the “commercial interests” of the Telegraph group. The Committee’s chairman, Lord Fowler, said his non-appearance was “objectionable”.
Further hard evidence of the clubbable nature of this select media-political group can be seen in the guest-list for Will Lewis’s recent 40th Birthday bash. Chief players included David Cameron, Andy Coulson, and Rebekah Wade/Brooks.
Let’s call a spade a spade: this is a small but hugely powerful oligarchy. A self-styled elite conjoined by money, power, influence, contempt for the ordinary man or woman – and above all, mutual need.
In this morning’s Daily Telegraph, for example, there was no hint of the obvious interconnection of:
*Murdoch support for the Tories before the election ** Newscorp man Andy Coulson getting the top media role in Number Ten *** the cloud of payoffs and private prosecutions following that man **** police lies about evidence relating to the editorial practices of that man ***** the key policeman Andy Hayman winding up as a crime columnist at Newscorp ****** and now another Barclay/Murdoch man in line to replace Coulson ******* who himself is known personally by all the other parties involved.
But that seven-point connection is very obviously there. And the more specific mutual need is equally easy to see:
* The Barclay brothers’ desire to see Cameron dethroned ** The hiring of Mail hunting dogs to see off the likes of Laws and Cable *** The need of the Barclays for a hard-right alliance stretching from lower-middle to upmarket **** the need for Murdoch’s Newscorp to get hold of BSkyB’s huge and invaluable cash flow.
These are people made allies by common aims: to influence the composition of the Government in power, and ensure that the key purveyors of upscale and broadcast communication remain in reactionary, monopolist hands.
Not only do Cameron and his entourage depend on the support of News International’s enormous media power, they also face the likelihood of a war on two fronts if they alienate both the Murdoch and Barclay dynasties.
This is particularly important given the venomous loathing for all members both Tory and LibDem among journalists working for the other axis of controlling media reportage – the phalanx we refer to as the Guardia Independentes.
The Slog’s view remains that while the BBC has a fluffy Left/pc bias, it is light years ahead of Sky News when it comes to overall reporting standards. And while the Telegraph has always been Right of Centre, it has become more extreme (and grubby) in its approach since the Monarchs of Sark took it over.
The bottom line is that we have a Governing Party which – along with the previous two regimes since 1979 – has been given invaluable help by a down-dumbing foreign media mogul; and a Coalition whose destruction is the avowed aim of two tax exiles inhabiting a £60million house on a remote Channel Island.
The obvious danger and hypocritical injustice of this situation is yet another reason why we need both a new political line-up in Britain – and an alternative new medium supporting a change from the sterile choice between the delusional pc Left and the ruthlessly monopolist Right.
But in the immediate term, the Cameroon clique needs to wake up: these seamy links leave it open to probably justified charges of caving in to the irresponsible rich…when they should be protecting the innocent victims of financial stupidity and criminal privacy invasion.