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Wings Over Scotland

This isn’t a rhetorical question

Posted on April 25, 2012 by

We had a successful but very late night at poker last night, so we've only been up for a couple of hours as we write this. But we've been watching BBC News for that entire time, almost all of which they've spent talking about the Leveson Inquiry, and so far they haven't felt that the allegations concerning Alex Salmond (about which the Scottish press and Holyrood opposition is in such a shrieking frenzy) were worthy of so much as a single mention. To be honest, we think that's as telling an analysis of the story's merits as anything anyone could write. (Though this is also a good stab.)

Similarly, we look forward to seeing whether the opposition parties are so suicidally stupid and lacking in self-awareness as to attack Salmond over the issue at First Minister's Questions tomorrow, given that they're all absolutely dripping with gooey, sticky, foul-smelling brown effluent when it comes to their own relations with Murdoch. But nevertheless, something's been nagging at us for a little while, and perhaps some of our rapidly-growing band of readers might be able to help provide an answer:

What IS it that's so uniquely evil about Rupert Murdoch anyway?

Wings Over Scotland isn't yet a billionaire multi-media mogul, but if we were we can offer you a solemn and unequivocal promise: we would use our power to try to influence political events in favour of our own agenda, all day and every day. Apart from making money, that's the ONLY reason anyone EVER gets involved in the media. We hope we're not giving away a massive secret or anything there.

This blog exists at the opposite end of the political spectrum to Rupert Murdoch on just about any issue you care to name. We despise almost every ideology he holds dear. But we acknowledge his right in a free democracy to put forward his views and use any legal means he can to further them.

Phone-hacking, of course, is not legal. But it's beyond any rational doubt that just about every major media organisation in the land is knee-deep in the swamp when it comes to phone-hacking, so there's nothing uniquely evil about Murdoch among media proprietors in that regard. The same goes for publishing oceans of largely made-up prurient/muck-raking drivel about celebrities and their sex lives/cellulite, which is in fact the main engine of 90% of news-stand journalism nowadays.

So why is it worse for Murdoch to back political parties than when the Guardian or the Mail or the Mirror Group does it? Why is it somehow inherently wrong and scandalous and dirty for, say, the Scottish Sun to back the SNP, but okay for the Daily Record to back Labour, the Guardian to support the Lib Dems, the Telegraph to advocate the Tories and the Mail to come out for the French National Front?

We're serious. It's been axiomatic folk-wisdom in this country for years – since long before the phone-hacking scandal – that Rupert Murdoch is the devil, and merely being associated with his name makes you instantly guilty of some sort of a priori crime. We're not fans, but can anyone tell us what it is he's actually done that makes him measurably worse than anyone else in his line of business in this country? Is it just that he's better and more successful at it? We'd honestly like to know.

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42 to “This isn’t a rhetorical question”

  1. Scott Minto (Aka Sneekyboy) says:

    I find it unbelievable that the Labour party would try to score points on the BSkyB bid against Salmond when they know full well that Sky employs over 6000 people in Scotland.
    Of course the Scottish Government would lobby on their behalf, it would have meant more jobs coming into Scotland and wouldnt have hurt to finally get some balance back into the media.
    Remember, braodcasting is a reserved matter so the only people who could have done anything other than say "its a good idea – I support this" are the ConDems with the support of Labour.
    The A.S attacks are just a big sparkly thing that they can try and distract us with rather than looking at the corruption of Westminster. It just wouldnt do to look at the political system in the UK and think its broken in a run up to a referendum on independence.

  2. Scott Minto (Aka Sneekyboy) says:

    @ RevStu
    Murdoch is evil in the eyes of the establishment because he is promiscuous.
    He sleeps around with every party when he feels like it and they get a bit of the 'Jilted lover syndrome' when its not their turn.
    How dare he use his influence to advance his own agenda rather than theirs!!!

  3. RevStu says:

    Indeed. In the last five years alone, Murdoch's papers have backed Labour, the Tories and the SNP. That seems pretty balanced to me πŸ˜€

  4. Scott Minto (Aka Sneekyboy) says:

    @ RevStu – Still wouldnt get into bed with Clegg though!

  5. Kenny Campbell says:

    I have little time for Murdoch and the whole turgid mess that is the tabloid press in the UK. I think Salmond was unwise to have him as a guest given the furore surrounding him but then I'm not a politician.
    It would hypocritical of the other parties to raise it, especially Tories and Labour. However that won't stop them as they have nothing else at the moment. Just look at that rubbish piece in the Herald today "Ratings agencies won't support Scotland'…backed up by absolutely nothing other than a Tory backbencher's opinion. That shows us what is in the Unionist arsenal.

  6. Scott Minto (Aka Sneekyboy) says:

    @Kenny Campbell  – Yes, I see the resident Troll is in action trying to defend the article from the blatantly obvious holes being picked in it by the other posters there.

  7. Dan says:

    I think it is a result of three things:
    a) His support of the worst kind of right wing ideology adapted to local circumstances. In this aspect he is no worse than the editor/owners of the Daily Mail but it is still worth noting. Advocating for such policies in itself is fairly disreputeable in most right thinking quarters of society so he is already over on that side of the line.
    b) The way his operation goes about such advocacy is often a little underhanded, noone could mistake the guardian for anythign other than somethign that is goign to give you a full dose of political commentary but a large part of Murdoch's output puts on a masquerade of breasts and celebrity gossip before slipping in the subtle knife of politics.  The mirror does something similar for the left and people generally have just as little respect for it's editors/owners.
    c) Power and reach. This is Murdoch's big claim to being the top dog of the villains. Noone has his sheer control centered in a single man/family group. He controls the largest slice of UK newspaper readership (nearly half) a large portion of UK TV through Sky, he controls a good chunk of book and magazine publishing as well through Harper Collins and through Fox he controls a big chunk of imported tv and film. Basically there is no other single man who has that much media control in the western world.
    I think if he used his powers to honestly and clearly advocate for left wing (nice) positions and generally acted like Warren Buffet in his buisness affairs he'd be a lot less hated but that global reach would still mean many regarding him with suspicion. There are also other more minor shitty/ruthless business things he has done (see the way he got control of the Wall Street Journal) but really they are just the run of the mill grinding of capitalism and pale into insignificance compared to the above three.

  8. MajorBloodnok says:

    I was pleased to hear la-la Lamont being taken to task this morning on Radio Scotland.  She kept saying that Salmond had crossed the Rubicon (alea, iacta est?) by speaking to Murdoch – the point being that it was alegedly after the Milly Dowler revelations (think of the children!) rather than before.
    However, when invited to condemn Blair, Brown et alia for have been so chummy with Murdoch (whilst the hacking was actually going on) she was unable to do so.   Amusingly, she was asked if she was First Minister (Jings!) would she not have done just the same and made time to speak to a major employer in Scotland?  That's the bit I cracked up at.  First Minister, indeed.

  9. RevStu says:

    "The mirror does something similar for the left and people generally have just as little respect for it's editors/owners."

    That's my point, though – do they? Do most people even know the name of the head of the Trinity Mirror Group (I don't), far less regard them as something akin to Satan?

  10. Longshanker says:

    Murdoch's the best puppetmaster there is.
    In business he has solid support based on the FACT that he has never knowingly gone back on his word. He is trusted implicitly by the corporate/business class who deal with him commercially. They cross him at their peril. He knows what's going on everywhere (that counts) and why it's going on. A paragon of corporate virtue and quite possibly the ultimate businessman.
    For all the little people he merely highlights the lickspittle whoredom and cringing homogeneity of the political class. This affair demonstrably highlights that Salmond's no different from any of the other lapdogs when it comes to dropping to their knees for Rupie's visits.
    That you should think that an organisation able to wield, mostly, untrammeled power and influence, which can then use said influence to place persons at the heart of government and law enforcement is somehow benign, or the same as other meida outlets, beggars belief.
    Sure, other papers used phone hacking – the excuse trumped up by the apologists for Salmond's cringeworthy  'endorsement' of the Sunday Sun. Phone hacking has proven to be systemic throughout News InternationaI – that's not an accusation so easily laid at the door of other papers. The lack of high profile cave-ins to libellous suings kinda proves that.
    Phone hacking isn't really the issue though. It's the influence on government and that other alleged bulwark against the forces of evil, the police, that's the real issue.
    The fact you're prepared to take a defensive stance only further highlights my belief and previous accusation against you that you are morally repugnant. Truly a Thatcherite sounding misanthropist in the face of corporate virtues.
    Average Joes and Jocks need protection against Corporate gangsters like the Murdochs and the Amazons of the world. You sound like one of their lickspittle sycophants. Well done.
    If corporate governance is the future for an independent Scotland, I'll count myself out come voting time.

  11. RevStu says:

    So you don't know the answer to the question, then? You could have said that a lot more concisely and saved everyone quite a bit of time and boredom, to be honest.

  12. Kenny Campbell says:

    Can we expect Longshanks to be moving abroad soon then, given he doesn't want to live somewhere run by corporations…by your own admission Salmond is just doing what the rest are and have been doing. 
    As I've said elsewhere I think he should have remained detached from the whole situation. Even as the record now seems to show that the interaction was neutral at worst, I just think its an opportunity that might have been best to let lapse. Why give them any ammunition.

  13. Scott Minto (Aka Sneekyboy) says:

    @Longshanker – I think your ode to murdoch at the start of your post was a little too taodyish but well done on shoehorning "whoredom" into the post. I feel it is a word that gets too little covearge and deserves a good airing now and again.
    You state that phone hacking isnt the issue but that kinda defeats the purpose of why they what they were pulled up for. Of course all papers hack phones and e-mails, raid bins and even give backhanders to the police and government employees for information.
    Is it right – No. Are they all at it – Yes. Does Murdoch, as the largest player weild the largest influence – Yes.
    But weilding influence and using it to advance your own agenda doesnt make you the devil. Influence is not the same as holding power, which by the way is currently done by the ConDems and before that Labour, as Broadcasting is reserved.
    Yet once again you try to conflate supporting a business venture with kowtowing to any and all demands of the corporate world yet a quick look at Murdochs right wing agenda shows that in at least the SNP's case, this is not happening.
    An independent Scotland would have its own rules on broadcasting and impartiality and would be able to impose those rules. At the moment we can only ask that Westminster, and the politicians you say are 'planted' by Murdoch to make changes.
    If corrupt governance by corporate placemen is the future within the Union for Scotland, I'll count myself out come voting time and VOTE YES to rid us of them.
    P.S. RevStu's views are his own and he is entitled to them, but there is nothing in any of his views that equates to Thatcherism or moral repugnancy. Your resorting to personal insults betrays your lack of a coherent argument to RevStu's position.
    I quite like your posts as they stimulate debate (as I liked Captain Caveman's posts also – but dont tell RevStu πŸ˜€ ), and debate is good, but please stop with personal attacks and the constant referral to Salmond as Sun King or any such other title. It reduces your argument and your credibility.

  14. Macart says:

    Murdoch is an equal opportunities backer and he'll support whoever right up until they no longer serve his purpose. Even after all this minor stushie there isn't a member of any parliament wouldn't drop whatever they're doing to do lunch right now. The hypocrisy and finger wagging from both parliaments at the moment is laughable. So many solemn self righteous faces pontificating on using the press to further party or national agendas.
    Mr Murdoch is exactly as he appears – a ruthless, driven media magnate at the head of one of the most influential operations out there. Which of course is why he is courted by every political party and party head in the country.
    They're still looking for that 'gotcha' headline.

  15. Sam says:

    As you say there isn't anything uniquely evil about him, many other media moguls behave in the same way.  It’s his success I suppose that makes him stand out – and the fact that he is a very public figurehead.  He’s dangerous because of his success though, few others hold sway in quite so many countries.  Similarly, it isn’t that he follows his own agenda that’s a problem; it’s the fact that his papers led the way in the mix of editorial opinion and actual news.  The two now are indistinguishable and the approach as been widely adopted.
    It’s fine to have media with a political agenda, so long as comment and fact are kept separate – to avoid misleading readers who invariably believe what they read (my opinion), and through this influencing politicians who should be serving the public rather than some other ideology.   This is why the BBC (though not always fully successful in this regard) is so vital to democracy – public interest and all that.
    The fact that nearly all media outlets practise the same thing isn’t a good reason to take the spotlight off Murdoch in my opinion.  I don’t think the world should work the way it does, so any opportunity to try and chip away at the horrendous way government policy is conceived seems like a good idea, regardless of left or right wing views.  

  16. Captain Caveman says:

    Thanks, nice of you to say so. πŸ™‚
    Unfortunately, you cannot have debate (meaningfully at least) with someone who absolutely refuses to *ever* admit his political belief is wrong, since presumably, to do so would be "weak" or whatever(?). Of course, it takes the bigger man to admit he's wrong.  Someone who fails to do this, seemingly by default, makes for a pretty pointless – and fruitless – discussion.
    The whole point of a debate is largely to truly test one's opinions (i.e. not simply to “win”), have them open to scrutiny, and if they're shown to be found wanting – then back to the drawing board they, and you, go. No sacred cows, no unthinkable conclusions. It isn't, or shouldn't be, an affront to get a bit of an intellectual pasting at the hands of someone who is more adroit or knowledgable. Hell, it's happened to me many times (my “scalp” is far from unobtainable), just as I too have on other occasions dished it out, including here.  
    In my view, only an arrogant, conceited fool clings on to some much-cherished, but demonstrably and empirically outmoded belief/argument/entire mantra, and/or willfully ignores an error on their part, for the sake of pride? Normally you can spot these types a mile off; you start to engage but sure enough the rudeness starts, 90% of your posts get ignored (and what's left is cherry-picked and quoted out of context, if you're lucky). Blanket accusations of being a "troll" abound, along with other provocation and abuse, and then finally – if they've *really* had enough of you, you get silenced, or banned, or perhaps simply given the old "it's my [board/blog/whatever]" spiel.
    It’s quite sad, really. People say they want to hear from people with opposing views and have constructive debate, but actually, they really don’t.

  17. RevStu says:

    I see your pledge to remain silent is going as well as it usually does.

  18. Captain Caveman says:

    Ha! Case in point, well demonstrated.
    Scott mentioned me in this thread and I thought it only good manners to reciprocate my own thoughts, which are genuine. But whatever, doubtless another put down opportunity, eh. :rolleyes:

  19. RevStu says:

    "and I thought it only good manners"

    If you were concerned with good manners you wouldn't keep showing up in a place where it's been made quite unequivocally plain that you're not welcome. Your disingenuous, dishonest cobblers above is merely another example of why. I've continued to ask politely, so please don't infect another thread with this tiresome argument.

  20. Captain Caveman says:

    Sorry, I'm not being lectured about manners by you of all people? That's simply breathtaking… suggest you get your own house in order first – here as elsewhere – before you start criticising the likes of me.

  21. Captain Caveman says:

    And as for your edit, that's fine as I've said, but I reserve the right to respond to any direct reference to me personally. 

  22. Juteman says:

    Didn't 'Wapping' turn him into the devil?

  23. Angus McLellan says:

    About the Mirror, it hasn't been run by a Satanic figure since Cap'n Bob fell off his boat. (Fell? Or was he pushed?) But the Express is. And the Torygraph too. And the guy that owns the Indy, hmm. I'd say more but I might end up with Polonium in my dinner.

  24. Christian Wright says:

    MajorBloodnok wrote: "Amusingly, she was asked if she was First Minister (Jings!) would she not have done just the same and made time to speak to a major employer in Scotland? "
    Did she give any reply to that question? It seems to me that is the crux of the matter. It would I think, be incumbant upon any First Minister to parley with a man who employs six thousand people in Scotand.
    Is Johann Lamont saying she would not do so? If she is not saying that then what is she saying? Was this interview on Good Morning Scotland?

  25. Arbroath1320 says:

    Christian Wright wrote Did she give any reply to that question? It seems to me that is the crux of the matter.
    Christian come on now, WAKEY WAKEY!
    We're talking about the Lamentable one here. She doesn't do or say anything until the Labour leader tells her to do so. Do you really think that would change,heaven forbid, if she were First Minister. Let's all be thankful for small mercies. πŸ˜€

  26. Longshanker says:


    So you don't know the answer to the question, then?

    Take it slow. Go to the fourth paragraph. The bit about untrammeled power. That's unique. If you want more examples, I might be prepared to oblige if you can demonstrate that you're capable of understanding.

  27. Longshanker says:

    @Scott Minto
    well done on shoehorning "whoredom"
    When you see barefaced whoredom so blatantly exposed, you feel obliged to comment on it.
    You state that phone hacking isnt the issue but that kinda defeats the purpose of why they what they were pulled up for.
    The Leveson inquiry was called into place to save Bullingdon Dave's job. Other media vested interests tried everything they could to stop the BSkyB deal going through.
    When it didn't work, the Milly Dowler bombshell was dropped. Whoever was behind that – probably the owners of the Telegraph – knew exactly what they were doing and the effect it would have.
    Even corporations like News Corps and incumbent governments have to take stock of such public revulsion.
    Bullingdon Dave would have been out on his derriere due to his Coulson link had he not diverted attention by calling the Leveson inquiry.
    I believe it was a stalling tactic till the inevitable happens anyway. The countdown clock is on with Bullingdon Dave. It's only a matter of time unless he somehow pulls something out of the hat.

  28. Morag says:

    That’s an interesting point of view, Longshanker. If Call-me-Dave goes, what do you think will happen? Another PM from the same group of Bullingdon boys? Or a General Election?

  29. Arbroath1320 says:

    Morag said
    That’s an interesting point of view, Longshanker. If Call-me-Dave goes, what do you think will happen? Another PM from the same group of Bullingdon boys? Or a General Election?
    The answer Morag is YES! πŸ˜€
    Yes it will be a Bullingdon Boys Club buddy who takes over.
    Yes it will be a Genereal Election
    Oh and in answer to your "obviously :D"  missed third question, Yes it will be SNAFU after the G.E. πŸ˜€

  30. Morag says:

    General election, later this year or next year.  Here is why I think the Westminster parties will do absolutely anything rather than see that happen.

    That is what an average of the Scottish samples of the last three Westminster opinion polls looks like when fed into the electoral calcualtor, based on the current constituency boundaries (59 seats).
    SNP 46 seats
    Labour 11 seats
    LibDem 2 seats
    Conservative 0 seats.
    Cameron and the rest can do these sums as well as we can.  I don't see any of them doing anything that would lead to a general election before the referendum, quite frankly.

  31. douglas clark says:

    I suppose that a GE could be called at any time. Though a change of PM doesn't appear to, necessarily, trigger it.  If the LIBs had any backbone at all, they would probably be thinking about walking away from this coalition sometime soon. That might cause a vote of confidence. No, can't see it happening.
    From an independence perspective I really don't want a GE before the referendum in 2014. Anyone got different ideas?

  32. Arbroath1320 says:

    I wouldn't say NO to that make up of SCOTTISH M.P.'s at Westminster. πŸ˜€

  33. Morag says:

    Are you sure you don't want that?  Not even if the SNP gained a shedload of Westminster seats?

  34. Morag says:

    (That was aimed at Douglas Clark, obviously.)

  35. douglas clark says:

    Sorry Morag. I have cross posted over yours at 1:10pm. Anyway, I agree with you.

  36. douglas clark says:

    That result would be a mandate for independence would it not? It would at least make the constitutional need for a referendum a bit moot?

  37. Arbroath1320 says:

    Just think of all the fun there would be at Westminster with this sort of S.N.P. presence,  lack of Scottish Labour and Lib/Dem presence and total obliteration of Scottish Tory presence in Westminster. I think it would be a hoot!
    With a result like this ANY claim the Tories would have or Labour for that fact, I think they would still be in power by the way,  that they hold sway over what happens in Scotland would be blown out of the water. H.M.S. Westminster would be well and truly sunk!

  38. Morag says:

    That result would be a mandate for independence would it not? It would at least make the constitutional need for a referendum a bit moot?

    I don't know.  I think it would depend on the specifics of the SNP manifesto.

  39. Arbroath1320 says:

    I think I have to agree with Douglas here Morag.
    With an overall majority currently in Holyrood and a result similar to that which you suggest in your post would we not be in a position where we can say that the S.N.P. has a mandate for Independence?
    Let's not forget, as the unionist parties always like to remind us, the S.N.P. is the party of Independence. That said, the "party of Independence" has an outright majority in Holyrood. Your figures would give it an outright majority in the Scottish element of Westminster seats. Would the fact that the S.N.P. had majorities in both segments be indicative of an overall majority of people in Scottland voting for the "party of Independence"? Therefore the S.N.P. would have the mandate, in my view, to take the lead in declaring Independence. Neither the Tories or Labour could argue against such a move. Neither of these two parties would be any where close to being in a position to oppose such a move. If they tried to oppose it I reckon all hell would break out North of the border.
    With regard to the specifics of any S.N.P. manifesto for a G.E. before 2015, I don't think it would differ too much from those that have gone before, putting Scotland first. This is what the electorate vote for. With this as a mainstay of their manifesto and a win like you suggest then surely Independenceis a must.

  40. Morag says:

    As I said, I don't know.  If the SNP manifesto said, vote for us and we will declare UDI if we get a majority of seats, that might be construed as illegitimate.  Bear in mind that landslide of seats comes on only 45% of the vote due to the effect of first-past-the-post.  We'd have unionists saying Salmond was trying to declare independence on less than 50% of the vote, and that is neither clear nor decisive.
    It would give the SNP a helluva platform going into the referendum though, and big clout in Westminster as regards reserved Scottish affairs.  If I was Salmond, I'd be campaigning on giving the SNP the power to influence policy in Westminster in reserved areas, rather than UDI.  One step at a time.

  41. douglas clark says:

    Thanks for the reply. I seem to recall, before all this referendum stuff became popular, that it was agreed across political parties that if the SNP got a majority of Westminster seats then they would have a mandate for independence. Again, I think that the other parties considered this an impossibility for the SNP to attain. Current opinion polls seem to suggest otherwise. Scottish Skier, who comments quite a lot on opinion polls over at NNS, comes up with very similar outcomes as you do: SNP 44.1% which translates in  37seats: Lab 33.3% 19, Con 14.7%1 and Lib 6% 2. Taken together, these are astonishing outcomes.

  42. Longshanker says:

    Not sure Morag. Probably another Bullingdon boy though.

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