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From: The Socialist issue 722, 13 June 2012: Turn anger into action

Search site for keywords: News International - Media - Labour - David Cameron - Andy Coulson

Leveson: contradictions and a crisis of credibility

Ben Norman

Since the Leveson inquiry began in November politicians have taken turns to take the stand, profess a desire to defend press freedom and lament the power of the media tycoons they once courted, before being given the opportunity to re-write history.

This week the cast list featured the most senior politicians in Westminster, including David Cameron and Nick Clegg. The first to re-write their page of history however was former prime minister Gordon Brown.

In office Brown equalled Tony Blair in epitomising New Labour, only with less media panache. As the architect of New Labour's pro-market polices he courted big business - indeed Rupert Murdoch claimed Brown to be the prime minister he felt closest to.

Brown also ran an obsessive media operation through spin doctors Charlie Whelan and Damien McBride, which ruthlessly briefed against political enemies, both inside and outside his own party.

Yet Brown's testimony portrayed a man bullied by the press, who knew nothing of the machinations of his press officers, and who felt bound by office to dine with Murdoch and Rebekah Brooks, whose own evidence he contradicted.

If this version of history lacked credibility it was no less dubious than the evidence of chancellor George Osborne who sneered his way through a testimony in which he dismissed conspiratorial ties between the Murdoch empire and the Tories as the imaginings of fantasists.

The chancellor claimed to have 'no view' on the Murdoch bid for BSkyB, the political furore over which still threatens to force Tory minister Jeremy Hunt from office. Osborne went on to casually defend his appointment of Andy Coulson, who was recently arrested for perjury in relation to the trial of Tommy Sheridan.

If the evidence given by these politicians seems far from convincing, the fact they could present it unchallenged exposes the limitations of the inquiry. Osborne may scoff at conspiracy claims, yet his government exists in a world where corporate lobbying and political favours are the norm.

While conspiratorial criminal activity within News International has been revealed, what the inquiry truly casts light on is the collaboration of the ruling class. From media moguls to politicians, the judiciary and the highest ranks of the police force, the wealthy in society will always network and collude to advance and defend their interests.

The inquiry continues to lay bare the class realities of how the establishment operates and as David Cameron re-writes his own history on Thursday he will now struggle to hide the fact that his party governs on the orders of boardrooms and businessmen - not the ballot box.

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Article dated 13 June 2012

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