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Clueless in London

You really do have to wonder about the men and women in positions of power in Britain: they don’t seem to have a clue what’s going on in the organizations they run.

There is, of course, an alternative explanation, but let’s leave that aside for now.  Let’s enjoy the comedy first, and suffer the tragedy later.

The more we learn about the already long-running phone-hacking scandal, the less competent, aware and responsible our esteemed leaders reveal themselves to be.

Prime Minister David Cameron, it emerged today, didn’t know that a former News of the World editor involved in phone-hacking, was working as a consultant to 10 Downing Street’s then communications director, Andy Coulson, who resigned some time back and has since been arrested.  

The powerful, supposedly very clever Murdochs, octogenarian Rupert and his son James, appearing before incredulous inquisitors at a parliamentary committee hearing, claimed with the earnest looks of schoolboys facing the headmaster, that they were often unaware of what their own newspaper editors were up to.  Rupert, looking in turn sheepish and embarrassed – as well he might – claimed in response to a question that he rarely called his editors at the News of the World and the Sunday Times, two of his flagship British Sunday papers.  The man known as hyper-active and famously hands-on mentioned with a straight face that he might just ring them casually on a Saturday evening to ask – strictly out of idle curiosity, you understand – what the papers would be running the next day.     

Rebekah Brooks, a former editor of the NoW and of the Sun, another Murdoch-owned tabloid, also asserted to members of the committee that she didn’t know much about the hacking practices of her reporters.  She, like Coulson, is facing possible criminal charges, so she couldn’t go into too much detail.  But the impression she gave was that there wasn’t too much to tell, because she was in the dark.

Earlier at the hearing, two recently-resigned senior officers of the Metropolitan Police, people one supposes have been trained to spot dodgy characters from a mile away, likewise gave the MPs excuses about not being told what their subordinates were up to.  If such responses truly reflect their powers of deduction, it must be something of a miracle that Scotland Yard solves any of its cases.  Come to think of it, do they?

If these politicians, news hounds and coppers, all in positions at the very pinnacle of their professions are to be believed, you wouldn’t put them in charge of the proverbial piss-up in a brewery.

It would all be very sad if it wasn’t so hilarious.  But then there’s the other explanation…. No, let’s not go there.

Towards the end of the Murdochs’ testimony, a demonstrator burst into the hearing room intent on slapping a shaving cream pie in Rupert’s face. (Apparently even the security people can’t do their jobs.)  A fitting end, some would say. 

By the time all this is over, the audience may be as loopy as the clowns. 

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