Saturday, 31 December 2011
I Don't Know Where I'm Going
In Open Democracy there has been a long article by Anthony Barnett from July called “After Murdoch” suggesting that the grip that Rupert Murdoch has had on British and related politics may now be on the wane and there is the possibility of some real democratic progress and rebalancing of interests.
This has been countered by Paul Staines, aka Guido Fawkes, in a reality check to the effect that as far as the markets are concerned Newscorp, BSkyB and all the rest are very much still in business and a good bet for the future. Essentially, the whole issue turns on the nature and standing of the UK political class and their capacity for survival in a troubled world.
For those of us with longer memories the 1930’s were a time when the Press Barons also had a firm grip on much of the nation’s thinking with number of politicians and business men at the time colluding with them to steer government policy.
There certainly was a wider and more informed press and a better read public but the history of that time is of a UK that was heading in the wrong direction for the wrong reasons and urged on by the main media.
Today, Murdoch is certainly where the money is and the money is likely to stay with him if he can keep the results up. People are still buying his papers and his TV products and a number of other things. The political class may seem to be at a greater distance but that does not mean they intend to overturn the basis of his media power.
One reason may be that if they do then the only ones to benefit will be the BBC and a few others within the political class and media who are connected. There is no sign at all of a thriving alternative which attracts and inspires majority opinion. The fun and games enjoyed by the demonstrators etc. is not a substitute for a working and effective democracy.
If it is not possible to create a new balance and a constitution that reflects the needs of the population as a whole then something has to give. Given the grotesque incompetence of the Westminster machine in recent years as well as endemic corruption of our own special kind then there is no hope in London.
Europe may have been the option at one stage but that is another entity that is on the point of breaking down or at best going into long term paralysis. Scotland thinks about looking to the North and to recreate the old world of the Baltic Trade and the Hanseatic League. It’s a nice idea but with them all now limited in manufacturing and food production it cannot be enough.
People point to the apparent prosperity in London as though it will revive the economy. Unluckily all those shoppers are buying goods that are largely imported and any profits made will be going offshore. All we have is a lot of low paid labour presiding over flow in and the flows out. The City is now simply a financial entrepot for the movements of capital and cash with little left for the rest of us.
As for the rest of the UK just who owns what? Where are the profits going? Who is taking them? How much stays in the UK economy? When I look through my bills I see a great deal of things going to firms in foreign ownership. Even a good many of our government buildings today are owned offshore.
So what is the reality? We are in the hands of others with not too many choices and even fewer in prospect. It is going to be an interesting year. And I would rather not be living in interesting times, to paraphrase a Chinese saying.
I wonder who will have the last say in the events of 2012 on the future of the UK?