Friday 8 July 2011

Shocked! (?)

There is a classic film, I think it is Casablanca, in which most of the action takes place in a bar/gambling club which is regularly frequented by the chief of police.However, activities of the club became politically incorrect (maybe the Nazis invade, or something, I am not good at remembering the details of films,) the club is raided by the police, and the police chief claims to be "shocked" at what he finds.

I am sure there is a great deal of this, often less convincing, play acting in the almost universal expressions of surprise and horror at the antics of the Murdoch press in general and the News of the World in particular (and how many other newspapers? Let's hope the Guardian is squeaky clean.) By accident or design the Guardian's publication of the revelations at this time has succeeded in delaying the decision on News Corporation's bid to gain an even greater share of BSkyB. However, we are solemnly told that Mr Hunt must follow the law and can take into account only media plurality and not whether or not the organisation is a "fit and proper person" to control a further large lump of the media.

If that is the case than we believers in the rule of law must accept it. As Shami Chakrabati pointed out at this year's Liberty AGM, "Unpopular people have rights too." However, in other circumstances, from dangerous dogs to police bail, if parliament doesn't like the law it doesn't hesitate to rush to change it. So if a change in the law is required to stop Murdoch, then let them get on with it.

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