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DogBitesMan » Featured, Media, Society » Cable leaks war on News Corp: Hold the front page!

Cable leaks war on News Corp: Hold the front page!

If the first casualty in war is truth – even a war involving News Corporation – then the second casualty is Vince Cable.

Ironically, they were both hit by the same bombshell.

The British Government’s Business Secretary is yet another victim of a current outbreak of honesty.

Perhaps it’s just his small ‘l’ liberal-democratic naivety or perhaps collateral damage from several months of WikiLeakage  – 2010 will forever be known as the Year of WikiLeaks – but Cable is guilty of little more than some foolishly indiscrete loose-lippage to a couple of undercover Telegraph journalists … and of telling the truth.

There are, around the world, several wars presently underway. There’s the “War on Terror”, an ongoing post-GFC “War Against Economic Collapse” and the ever-present “War of News Limited”.

Cable’s mistake – perhaps linguistic, perhaps muddle-headed – was in saying he was “declaring war” on New Corporation and its boss Rupert Murdoch when, in fact, that’s a war Murdoch has already, openly and lastingly declared on a succession of British, American, Australian and other governments over much of his 79 years.

However much the media may want to portray the latest salvo as a sudden and unpleasant sneak attack, it’s not Cable’s war but Murdoch’s. And the Liberal Democrats’ second highest Minister in the Conservative-led coalition government was only saying out loud what everybody else already knows.

Murdoch is not into media ownership and empire-building for the public good or the sake of some higher moral principle. He does it for the power.

If his billions can give him influence, that is fine by him. But his media interests give him much more. They give him power to make or break democratically-elected governments.

The Australian colonial upstart comes from the tradition of US publisher William Randolph Hearst and the Canadian-born British media baron Lord Beaverbrook, from the same mould as the Italian tycoon-cum-President Silvio Berlusconi and the Russian media oligarchs.

Beaverbrook used to claim he ran his papers – the conservative Daily Express and Sunday Express – “purely for propaganda and with no other purpose”.

In a tell-all book “The Man Who Owns the News: Inside the secret world of Rupert Murdoch”, journalist Michael Wolff says this is essentially why Murdoch has clung to the loss-making New York Post – with one short break – for more than 30 years.

“It has no business reason for being other than to prosecute political and business grudges and to entertain Murdoch himself,” he observes.

If war really is “active hostility or contention”, then Murdoch has been at war with a succession of mainly left-of-centre British Governments since buying the tabloid Sun newspaper in 1969 and the establishment Times and Sunday Times in 1981. Even though he supported Tony Blair’s “New Labour” Government, this was little more than a truce of the kind Hitler and Stalin signed in 1939 while they both plotted ways of gaining the upper hand.

The problem with the current state of war between Murdoch and the British people’s representatives is that the government is an uneasy alliance between the Murdoch-supported Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron and the soft-left Liberal Democrats. Cable has been saved from outright exile to the back benches by Cameron’s need to keep the Lib Dems onside.

And ironically – some might say farcically – the baying for Cable’s blood has been loudest from the opposition Labour party, whose forbears must be spinning in their socialist graves at the world turned upside down.

Of course, Cable’s critics couch their disapproval in terms of his “Ministerial responsibilities”, saying that as the man who must eventually decide whether News Corp can acquire control of the British pay-TV company BSkyB he should not express an opinion on the matter till he sees a report currently being compiled by the UK regulator Ofcom.

The 67-year-old Cable is, one suspects, more old fashioned and sees the role of a Government Minister as representing the best interests of the British people.

As a former Glasgow City Councillor and after spending so many years in opposition with the Liberal Democrats, Cable is hopelessly out-of-touch with the political practice of saying one thing and meaning another, a practice obviously espoused by the two Telegraph journalists who posed as Lib Dem supporters.

However, the recent exposure of diplomatic and political duplicity by WikiLeaks – and its general recognition by the citizenry – hint that truth may be coming back into fashion.

Vince Cable’s crime is not that he got it wrong, but that he got it right – just too soon.

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