Bliar on Leveson tonight

Written By: - Date published: 1:33 pm, May 28th, 2012 - 9 comments
Categories: accountability, corruption, Media, uk politics - Tags:

Some of the most riveting television for those with an interest in politics is available on-line at the Leveson enquiry. Tonight at 9pm our time Tony Blair will be questioned by the silken Robert Jay QC, with no doubt the odd interjection from the careful and perceptive judge himself. Blair’s trip to meet Murdoch at Hayman Island, the unspoken agreements trading support for New Labour with a hands-off approach to the media, and more details on the mating of porcupines will no doubt come up as well.

The setting is stark, with the witness brightly lit against a clean white background. Every nuance of facial expression is full on camera, and of course on the camera record. Jay’s questioning is probing, with some of the most important questions being asked askance, others eye-to-eye. It will be really interesting to see what approach the equally silken Blair adopts. It will no doubt be text-book public relations defence, and all the more interesting for that. Memory lapse as employed by Rupert, or full-on counter that Blair prefers? We shall see.

The previous appearances are all on the record. My favourite, after those of Rupert and James Murdoch, was the twinkle-eyed Rebekah Brooks, who did her best to charm the judge and condescend to the QC, in stark contrast to her fury several days later when charged with attempting to pervert the course of justice along with her husband and staff.

On Thursday, Minister of Culture Jeremy Hunt will face the grilling. He was appointed to oversee the Murdoch’s bid to take complete control of BSkyB, which would have given them a dominant position across media, a strategy that Hunt himself revealed in a memo to Prime Minister Cameron shortly before he was appointed to oversee the competition issues surrounding the bid in a quasi-judicial role. This revelation has almost certainly meant that it is now inevitable that he will have to resign as a Cabinet Minister, and puts further pressure on Cameron who is scheduled to appear at the enquiry in the near future.

The process of the enquiry has been inexorable and the revelations of the hidden relationship based on mutual interest between the Murdoch-owned media and politicians in Britain very disturbing. There will no doubt be more prosecutions to follow, and possibly more resignations as well.

But the lessons are not just for Britain.

Here in New Zealand we have Murdoch-owned Sky, which is becoming increasingly dominant in pay television, under scrutiny by the Commerce Commission and facing questioning whether it is limiting competition to internet providers. The Murdochs were strong opponents of the publicly-owned BBC; here our government is about to shut down the increasingly popular last bastion of public service broadcasting in TV7. At least there is a campaign to try to stop that – you can join it here.

9 comments on “Bliar on Leveson tonight”

  1. Who is “Bliar”?

    • Colonial Viper 1.1

      That’s a good question.

      You see, “Bliar” is in fact a bit of a a word play. A clever combination, if you like, of the word “Liar” and the name “Blair” (for Tony Blair). I admit that it took me a second; personally I thought it was a typo when I first saw it but then I lol’d.

  2. Yeah, my immediate thought was it was some kind of word play but since it isn’t repeated, explained or hinted to and only appears in the title it just looks like sloppy writing.

    • Te Reo Putake 2.1

      Yeah, it’s only been Tony Blair’s nickname for 15 years, so the post author really should have explained the joke in detail just in case someone ignorant of British politics was reading.

      • Right. Good-o. 

      • felix 2.1.2

        I agree with TRP and TC.

        It’s a bloody disgrace that someone, on their own blog, is allowed to write very obvious puns that could easily be missed by complete fucking idiots.

        Something should be done.

  3. rosy 3

    For the way a government works with business Adam Smith, Jeremy Hunt’s special advisor, and Fred Michel, News International’s lobbyist were riveting. Both were very,very good at their jobs – Mr Hunt and Mr Cameron will be spending this week working very, very hard to counteract their testimony. I’m looking forward to seeing how they get out of that, that more than I’m looking forward to Blair and his smarmy manner.

  4. Listening today this morning to Tony Blair give comment to the Leveson Inquiry, I was interested to hear Mr Blair describe Rupert Murdoch, the CEO & Chairman of News International, as meritocratic and in some ways anti-establishment. IMHO what better qualification could you ask of the owner of a group of newspapers ? In fact, I’m pretty sure that this would describe any reader who is searching for accurate information regarding the daily news.

    Other fascinating area’s of investigation included a discussion of what came first, political spin or media spite. Mr Blair was very forthcoming in his answers and gave the impression that his government knew that, if they were going to succeed, they would have to be one step ahead of the press. Although this is a honest account of how things were in the lead up to the 1997 general elections and beyond, I do wonder whether the ferocity of the Blair government press office wasn’t the launch pad for the media arms race. From my time-dulled memory of the accounts of the first Labour term in office, I seem to recall a palpable shock at the press office behaviour (both intensity and ferocity). I remember several documentaries showing the tactics used by the press office that effectively created entrenched ‘on message’ reporters and also persona non grata ones too.

  5. Shaz 5

    As I recall there was a headline that said. It was the Sun wot won it!” when the Blair government was first elected and indeed it had been rabidly anti-Labour for the preceeding elections. Previous Labour Party leader Neil Kinnock was widely and consistenly attacked by the Murdoch media following months when Labout had led in the opinion polls in the 1992 election.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_Kingdom_general_election,_1992 and
    http://www.bl.uk/learning/histcitizen/fpage/elections/election.html

    I’ve always thought that the anti-social media is worth several points to the conservative opposition in every election and am always surprised by how upbeat Labour politicians are on this point.

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