Sunday 24 March 2013

Some Freedom

Punctuation available on request.

As also to "Some Independence".

UKIP, "Champions of National Sovereignty and of Press Freedom", are crowing about their Leader's meetings with Rupert Murdoch, of all people, and about their possible endorsement by The Sun, the Deputy Editor of which has just been arrested.

Patriotism is meaningless unless it extends to active participation in the fight against each and all of the threats to our sovereignty, to our liberty, and to our parliamentary and municipal democracy.

Whether from the Executive or the Judiciary, from the European Union or the United States, from Israel or the Gulf monarchs, from China or the Russian oligarchs, from money markets or media moguls, from separatists or communalists, from over-mighty civil servants or over-mighty local government officers, from anything or anyone whatever.

You simply cannot, by definition, believe in national and parliamentary sovereignty while having any truck with Murdoch.

The Press in this country has not been free since the day that Murdoch, a kind of state in himself, was first  allowed to own any of it. And it may have taken him 50 years, but, without realising it, he was always going to bring about its statutory regulation in addition to, indeed in an attempt to correct, that erosion of our sovereignty, liberty and democracy which is effected, exemplified and embodied by the simple fact of his ownership of media interests in the United Kingdom.

In any case, the powers that be in this country can only ever be delighted for so long, and one day, they were no longer going to find him amusing. That day has arrived.

Ownership was outside Leveson's remit, although that does not usually stop these people. They are not burdened with self-doubt, nor should they be. Still, he said nothing about the thing that really matters. In that case, let Parliament act instead. It seems to have regrown its spine at last.

Along with the million pound fines and so on, which proprietors would pay once but not twice, so that editors who repeatedly incurred them would merely render themselves unemployable, let MPs say, entirely correctly, that getting this sort of thing through is what the Parliament Act is for, and that the European Courts can just clear off, exactly as the newspapers in question have been saying for years. Never mind UKIP.

Anyone who really believed in the Freedom of the Press would, if eligible, have signed EDM 1334 (look it up, if you have to), and would be supporting Jonathan Ashworth's campaign from the Labour Whips' Office for Departments of State to take this country's original anti-EU newspaper. That newspaper was entirely excluded from David Cameron's post-Leveson paying of court to what looked for all the world like the real Cabinet.

I say again that if the members of the Press are only doing what we are all free to do, then they do not need a Press Gallery. They should just have to take their chance at getting into the Public Gallery like everyone else. But they are not, so they do, and they shouldn't. Certain additional conditions therefore apply to what are not their rights, but their privileges. Whichever conditions Parliament chooses to impose, in fact.

UKIP is already closely connected to The Commentator, purveyor of anarcho-capitalism at home, of neoconservatism abroad, and of the heavy erosion of civil liberties in between. The Murdoch Agenda, in fact. To which we may add, and logically cannot fail to add, hatred of the monarchy, and support for Scottish secession.

Supremely, these are agenda of The Sun, which would certainly never endorse any party that had not signed up to the explicit among them, even leaving aside the anti-monarchism and anti-Unionism, which are usually, though not always, left implicit.

Is this to be UKIP's pitch? Even more cuts and privatisation -  most notably of schools, of the NHS, and of rural services across the board - than are already occurring. The extreme social liberalism that that at once necessitates and is necessitated by, keeping in mind that Nigel Farage himself was in favour of same-sex "marriage" (although the ubiquitous Loony Right think tanks, very close indeed to UKIP, want to abolish marriage altogether) until Cameron decided to legislate for it; he remains on record in support of the totemic Loony Right legalisation of drugs and prostitution, a cause going all the way back to the New Right, and to the New Left, of the 1970s.

Wars against countries chosen at random by the American neoconservatives, who are not even in government in their own country, and by the secular Israeli Far Right, which most unfortunately is. Mass surveillance, identity cards, prolonged detention without charge, secret courts, complicity in torture, and all the rest of it. A total exclusion of arguments from religious conviction in political discourse, another cherished New Right aim from the very start. As is absolute scorn for the Commonwealth, a theme in Murdoch's own life.

Those were the Blair Agenda, whether or not he always quite realised it. Those were the Thatcher Agenda, whether or not she always quite realised it. Those are the Murdoch Agenda, whether or not he always quite realises it. Those are the agenda pursued remorselessly by and through his media interests. Especially, in this country, his newspapers.

For they are semi-official publications of what was once the Hard Right, including the Loony Right. That was once the New Right, those members of it who were not once the New Left, as many of them were, especially many of those who are on The Times these days. Such is the company that Nigel Farage now keeps. But then, he always did. And his fan club of a party must presumably approve.

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