It’s always nice to be proven right when making a political prediction, and thanks to Ed Miliband, it’s happened to me once again. For in last week’s article, I predicted that the Murdoch hysteria would be so great that it would open the door for meddling politicians to initiate entirely unnecessary legislation and unconnected governmental interference.
Hey presto, a week later and we are being told by Ed Miliband, along with a whole host of other left-wing politicians, journalists and bloggers that the Murdoch empire needs breaking up. Miliband has called for drastic new laws governing media ownership, and slammed Mr Murdoch for having “too much power over British public life.” Ouch!
First of all, this condemnation may or may not be true, but it has nothing to do with phone hacking. As we have been told repeatedly over the past few weeks, phone hacking can be performed quite easily by those with the knowhow and the will to do so; it matters not what sort of market share that person commands. Additionally, any corruption by the Met Police is an issue to do with the integrity of the police force, and has little to do with the size of News Inc and/or News Corp.
So as predicted Miliband et al have been using this scandal to promote an agenda that has nothing to do with the phone hacking saga. It is also interesting to note that neither Miliband nor Harman (who also condemned Murdoch’s structure as “too powerful and too rich) nor Kinnock (who has this week called for a press entirely regulated by the state) didn’t see a problem with all this when The Sun was supporting Labour from 1997 to 2010.
Yet what all this really shows is Labour’s condescending belief in the Marxist concept of “false consciousness” – the idea that the working masses can be duped by big powerful capitalists and will therefore actively fight against what the Marxists say are their real interests. This get-out clause has been trotted out time and time again when middle class Marxists discover that the proletariat they claim to be fighting for actually don’t want any of their hard left nonsense.
It is this understanding that underpins Miliband’s attack on the power of Murdoch. For when he calls Murdoch “too powerful” what he actually means is “too successful.” For all Murdoch has done to become powerful is to provide news sources that people want to read or watch. For in the free market the only people who are powerful are those who are successful in continuing to meet the needs and wants of the consumers, who have their own free choice whether or not to buy the product in question.
So when I (along with millions of Brits every day) walk into my newsagent and peruse the morning’s papers, I have a choice. I can certainly choose to read a Murdoch paper like The Sun or The Times, or I can go for The Daily Mail, The Daily Express, The Daily Telegraph, The Daily Mirror, The Daily Star, The Independent, The Observer, The Guardian or The Financial Times, along with a range of other papers that are perhaps not in wide circulation in the UK such as The Morning Star and The Wall Street Journal. If I don’t like those choices I can shun newspapers altogether, and get my daily fix from online sites, blogs and Twitter.
Unlike the BBC – which forces taxpayers to fund it whether or not they approve of the service it provides or the views that it presents – the Murdoch Empire cannot force a single penny out of your pocket. I for one have not purchased a Murdoch paper for years – that is the choice I have made. Similarly, the people who do buy those papers make their own free choice every day whether or not to buy them, and read the views held inside.
Murdoch is therefore not powerful in the same way the BBC or the government are; he cannot force any money out of your pocket without you first giving it to him via the purchase of one of his products. The only power he holds is due to the fragile and free relationship between business and each individual consumer that chooses to buy their products. If people don’t like what is being produced, or are disgusted with the way in which they have gone about their business, they can stop buying the product immediately. There is nothing forced about this relationship; that is, unless you subscribe to the Marxist view that the masses are nothing by mindless “sheeple” who can be brainwashed at the drop of a hat.
If the law has been broken, then the law should investigate and prosecute those involved. Yet this should not be used by the left as an excuse to promote some pseudo-Marxist critique of the free market. Murdoch’s power is nothing more than the fruits of success in providing the people with what they want, and in a modern Britain there should be no politicians slamming anyone for being successful in doing that.