Saturday 16 June 2012

Leveson inquiry - David Cameron's evidence

How embarrassing it must have been for David Cameron this week at the Leveson inquiry.

I can only imagine how awkward it was, to hear former News International Chairman Rebecca Wade's text message read out which said:

"I am so rooting for you tomorrow, not just as a personal friend but because professionally we're definitely in this together."

This was sent to Cameron just before his speech at the Conservative Party conference in 2009.

Hearing this and thinking about other evidence I've heard from politicians, it reminded me again of how too many of our political leaders both Left and Right of the political spectrum became too close to the Murdoch Empire - but it's not just that which bothers me.

There's the issue of why so many of our political leaders have felt the need to form such close ties and even pander to the Murdoch press to get them onside. Why is this?

Maybe I'm being naive here but it's not the Murdoch press or any other news paper which elects governments in this country, it's us the electorate.

I think one of the mistakes that politicians have made during the last 20 years is in believing that the press and particularly Rupert Murdoch have more power and influence than they really have.

Nobody's denying that the press don't have some influence, but it's almost a self fulfilling prophecy where the press have gained influence because politicians keep telling themselves that they have influence.

Everyone remembers the famous 'It was the Sun wot won it' headline after the 1992 General Election. But the headline only ran for one print run after Rupert Murdoch said he didn't like the headline.

Ever since then, politicians and the public have believed that the Murdoch press hold this great influential power.

With the phone-hacking scandal and subsequent Leveson inquiry, some politicians are now fighting back, putting the boot in with the Murdoch press now on the defensive.

How quickly they forget. The press should be there to question and hold to account the actions of our leaders. The politicians should acknowledge the role played by the press, but they should get on with the task of governing - without constantly worrying about press opinion and desperately trying to form closer relationships with the media. In the long run it isn't in anyone's best interests.

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