Tuesday, 26 July 2011
Once A Jolly Swagman
The Channel 4 programme on Murdoch’s control over the British polity was an interesting watch, although there were opportunities missed. Perhaps the thumping deep bass doom backing could have been enlivened. The obvious one would have been the 1967 Sandie Shaw hit “Puppet On A String” whenever one or other Prime Ministers came into sight.
Rupert’s performance in the House of Commons reminded me of the contrite apologies of the many Australian barmen who have short changed me in London pubs in the past. Deep sincerity backed with a determination to whack the next punter with a bigger deduction.
What I did not buy in this case was the “Rupe The Dupe” line, an old stager with very many interests who was let down by his trusted relations and assistants. He might have 174 or what journals plus manifold other media interests but some politically and personally were much more critical than others.
Clearly, in the UK and the USA there are a small number of interests that are the key to political influence and with it effective control or veto over policies and proposals. These were exploited to the full and used mercilessly to maintain and extend the Murdoch empire.
In my own experience I have been in organisations with a wide variety of entities in which either to know or to be able to find out fast the detail was critical to function. Given the money he was paying these people and given their work it just does not wash that he could not have known or could not have been told.
It may be that he was too busy shafting the stuck up British, conning the bean counting Americans and avoiding being clobbered by the clever Chinese to keep in touch with those who worked for him. It may be that essentially his organisation is bad, ramshackle and mostly out of control. It may he that he just did not care.
What we are left with is a wrecked constitution that is unworkable, an economy in very bad shape, an energy crisis looming, a celebrity and drug culture that dominates the media and the centralisation of all decisions and influence into a very small location and group of people.
As any Oz miner can tell you, however, in every heap of rubble there might just be a lump of something valuable. In Murdoch’s case it might be that he restrained Blair’s mad dash into Europe and perhaps even allowed Brown to stay out of the Euro. If so, then history might judge him not so much as a villain but as a deeply flawed hero.
John Churchill and Arthur Wellesley both saved us from European domination and both had many faults. But they gained Dukedoms. By the 20th Century such leaders had to settle for Earldoms or in the case of my hero, Field Marshal Alan Brooke, a Viscountcy like Horatio Nelson. Rupert Murdoch currently has a knighthood but there are many who want to strip of that honour.
Perhaps we might settle for a good big statue. Whitehall would be tactless, as would the fourth plinth in Trafalgar Square. Clearly, it could not be along that of President Reagan, despite Rupert’s current American citizenship.
My location would be somewhere on the banks of the Thames, a large statue that could be seen for miles looking over the reach from which many of the early convict transports cast off for Australia and his arm would be raised to point in the compass direction to the East. The dedication on the plinth would be very simple “Keith Rupert Murdoch” with underneath “Once A Jolly Swagman”.
Look at the Wikipedia entry for “Waltzing Matilda” and read the lyrics, there is a distinct poignancy about them.