Following the cautious appearances of Andy Coulson and Rebekah Brooks at the Leveson Inquiry in recent days there has been much commentary in the press regarding the intricacies of who said what to whom and when? However, having been forced into this inquiry by public pressure and some admirable work from Ed Miliband, I believe that we risk missing the real importance in the whole News of the World, Murdoch, dodgy press fiasco, which is the now widespread belief that not only Britain’s press, but also its politicians, bankers, and the rich and powerful in general, feel that they are untouchable and not answerable to the silent majority, whom their underhand affairs impact upon.
The actions of the British media in recent years has been nothing short of despicable, and the crassness of the big media companies, in the face of public hatred and disgust, has shown completely intolerable arrogance. It is this that has riled and angered the public the most, as this is seen as merely yet another example of the rich and powerful feeling above the law and above democratic accountability.
The snivelling obediance of some of the country’s most powerful politicians has further added to the sense of detachment between the powerful and those they govern and influence. Politicians of all ideologies have suckled at the teat of the Murdoch empire in a grotesque attempt to gain the favour of Murdoch and his underlings and in doing so have sold not only themselves, but also their parties and British politics in general.
As if the public did not already feel far enough detached from the political world, the image of their leaders cozying up to an immoral corporation – also far detached from normal life – has only added to this sense of us against them. These same feelings have rippled through the public consciousness in recent years regarding MPs expenses and the collapse of the banking system, that upon further investigation evidenced the same arrogance regarding their work as the media has shown in regards to theirs.
Currently, the public feels as if the rich and the powerful not only do not understand them, but actively belittle them and display an arrogance suited to Cameron and his Bullingdon Club chums. They hate it.
Hopefully this issue can be resolved by placing checks on the ability of large amounts of power to find itself concentrated in the hands of a few so as to prevent further abuses. Whilst protecting the ability of the media to effectively report on issues important to the public interest, we must ensure that no man ever gains the sort of power that Rupert Murdoch has, thus ensuring that small-minded politicians will never again find themselves prostituting politics to media barons.
I hope that in the future, with news coverage becoming increasingly modernised and moving away from print to the Internet, we will see the public engaging with a number of smaller, more independent news sources, rather than relying on a few, large companies to provide much of the country’s news.