Society goes up in smoke in England riots

As I sat down to write this post, two 30-something men walked past my window.

I caught the tail end of their animated conversation. “Look at the riots,” one of them exclaimed. “It just goes to show we have the power not the government.”

I disagree. An orgy of looting and violence is not just “sheer criminality” it is the action of the powerless.

Ingredients for a riot: take a huge dollop of frustration, add an unstable economy and high unemployment, along with an even bigger dollop of desperation. Then spoon in some rage and bake in the searing heat.

Many people not just in the UK but around the globe will easily separate themselves from the rioters/criminals.

And, of course, they can. They are law abiding citizens, they are educated, they are employed and take home an income which allows them to indulge in the finer things in life.

Yes, they are far removed from these so-called “animals” and “feral rats”.

But if we pause and really think about what one young woman in Birmingham told a news channel it becomes harder to dismiss these people as “just opportunist thugs”.

Asked how she perceived her local police force, she responded: “They don’t respect me so I don’t respect them.”

Respect is fundamental for a human being.

When a person is respected he or she possesses the power to influence people and shape his or her own destiny.

For some people in our society basic respect is automatic for others life is not so straightforward.

These people are invisible and become visible only when they act outside of the law.

The mindless violence and criminal damage which has swept across Britain is inexcusable.

It has already claimed a life – a 26-year-old man was shot in his car last night – and left many families homeless. Shop owners have witnessed their livelihoods going up in flames.

Prime Minister David Cameron has said every perpetrator will quite rightly feel the full force of the law.

Meanwhile, Education Secretary Michael Gove has blamed the riots on “tribal allegiances and gangs”.

Real change comes with addressing the cause not just the effect.

Columnist Mary Riddell wrote in the Telegraph (London riots: the underclass lashes out):

Today, Britain is less equal, in wages, wealth and life chances, than at any time since then. Last year alone, the combined fortunes of the 1,000 richest people in Britain rose by 30 per cent to £333.5 billion.”

Tonight a police station in Nottingham was firebombed.

Can this country really afford to continue to have a huge section of society which is rudderless, disaffected and roaming the streets?

So will Glenn Mulcaire finally reveal all?

So News Corp is to stop paying the legal fees of private investigator, Glenn Mulcaire, who was jailed over the phone-hacking scandal.

Well, there must have been a reason why the company started paying for his legal team in the first place.

Mr Murdoch senior appeared both surprised and annoyed at this disclosure.

Indeed, throughout his time before the Culture, Media and Sport committee and, in particular, under Tom Watson‘s eagle eye and no-nonsense approach to questioning, Mr Murdoch’s feathers were more than ruffled.

What was startling was how little he appeared to know about the machinations of the News of the World even if it is just a bit player in News Corp.

No wonder the media titan admitted to feeling “humbled” before the committee.

Since so many puns have been written about the pie incident, I see no need for me to add to them.

Anyway, back to Mr Mulcaire.

Notice how I have made no mention until now about Mr Murdoch’s son, James, and Rebekah Brooks.

This is because they apparently knew nothing about what was going on at Britain’s biggest selling newspaper…….

Anyway, back to Mr Mulcaire. I know, I know, I am repeating myself.

All eyes are agog and ears pricked up in preparation for the investigator breaking his silence.

His fees would easily have run into hundreds of thousands of pounds ….

Once again we are back to who “signed-off” on releasing the funds for his fees.

Come to think of it, we still do not know who paid him in the first place to hack into the phones.

We also wait with bated breath to see what Harbotte and Lewis, the law firm used in 2007 to investigate the phone-hacking at the NotW, will reveal now that News Corp is allowing it to talk….

Goodness! They are dropping like flies…..

“This can’t be the first resignation…,” Ken Livingstone talking to BBC News 24 about the shock resignation of Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Paul Stephenson.

Mr Livingstone also indicated that others within the met should be off too.

Sir Paul could not have predicted that a few weeks of “R and R” at the glamorous Champneys would leave his glittering police career in tatters on one miserable, wet Sunday evening in July 2011.

How the mighty are being wiped out by the NotW scandal.

I have to admit when this whole saga began unravelling at alarming speed almost two weeks ago, I could never have predicted the whirlwind would have swept up so many high-profile figures.

It is no longer a question of what will happen next but whose head will be next on the chopping block.

Anyone else either directly involved or connected in any way to this saga must now be viewing this as a reign of terror.

Maximilien Marie Isidore de Robespierre would have been proud…..


Plurality call over the NotW fallout

No doubt buoyed by the latest developments which have seen Rupert Murdoch fly to the UK and apologise in person to the Dowler family and Rebekah Brooks arrested, Ed Miliband is now calling for plurality in the media.

Interestingly, he has the firm backing of Nick Clegg who outlined the need for it, along with “diversity” and “accountability” in the media, on Andrew Marr this morning.

Hang on a minute!

Anybody would think the close relationship between the press and politicians is something that has recently occurred in this country.

Neither is it unusual for one man to own a substantial amount of the press.

William Maxwell Aitken (1879-1964) the first Lord Beaverbrook, made his mark in newspapers, politics and finance.

Apart from having a successful parliamentary career – he was one of only three men to serve in the cabinet – he acquired the majority shareholding in the Daily Express and the Evening Standard.

Lord Beaverbrook also courted his fair share of controversy.

The point I am trying to make, if you had not already realised, is that I doubt that there has ever been a time when parliamentarians did not rub shoulders with journalists and their editors.

After all, at least half of them would have attended the same schools and universities – Oxford and Cambridge.

I am all for more transparency but we must be realistic about what is actually possible without going to extremes to make a point, especially a political one.

Why did Rebekah Brooks choose today to resign?

Gone but not forgotten.

Rebekah Brooks will certainly not be forgotten by Milly Dowler’s family or the 200 News of the World journalists who are currently filling in Job Seekers Allowance forms.

I thought I would let the dust settle – hence no post yesterday.

I do not claim to have an oracle but something told me someone or something was about to give.

Yesterday morning the wise and much-respected former editor of the Guardian Newspaper, Peter Preston, appealed for calm as other voices were calling for ways to muzzle “The Press”.

Later on Tony Blair talked about “getting everything out in open”.

Mais excusez-moi! He must be aware of the proverb: “People who live in glass houses should not throw stones.”

This from a man who apparently “doesn’t do God” but then promptly converts to Catholicism after leaving office.

The words “kettle” and “black” also spring to mind come to think of it….

I am not even going to mention the so-called “dodgy dossier”.

Oh, damn it!

Then the Huffington Post reveals the FBI is to launch an investigation following reports alleging the phones of 9/11 victims may have been hacked into.

Meanwhile, father and son Murdoch make a surprise u-turn after refusing to appear before a parliamentary committee next Tuesday, and leaving the beleaguered Mrs Brooks to take MPs’ questions on the chin.

Finally, one of the richest men in the world who just happens to own a staggering seven percent stake in News Corp – making him the second largest shareholder – grants Newsnight an exclusive interview.

Saudi Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal stated the News International chief excecutive would have to resign if there was any sign of her involvement.

Lo and behold Rebekah falls on her sword the next morning and her successor is swiftly announced.

Of course, we can all speculate until the cows come home but it is likely we will never actually discover why she chose to leave when she did……..


News Corp Group bows to mounting pressure

How long does it take to scrap a 168-year-old top selling newspaper and force a media titan to re-think his takeover bid to expand his global empire?

Answer: Apparently, nine days.

Who could have predicted the News of the World phone-hacking affair would have such incredible ramifications.

The great Carl Bernstein referred to recent events as a “watershed for Britain” in Newsweek.

I found it rather hilarious and just a tad predictable the way ALL the MPs suddenly united in welcoming the the demise of the bid.

David Cameron’s about-turn is even funnier given his decision-making when it comes to employing a PR.

Another MP who looked decidedly uncomfortable today was hapless Jeremy Hunt.

Unsurprisingly, his rather timid announcement that he intends to refer the bid to the Competitions Commission now that News Corp has withdrawn it drew derision from all corners of the Commons.

You could barely hear him over the jeers.

I have to admit I am getting rather addicted the drama that has been unfolding.

If I am not switching back and forth from BBC News 24 to Sky News, then I am either checking Twitter or scanning news websites to compare and contrast who has uncovered what.

Not sure what I will do when it all dies down……..

Maybe I will take up gardening … then again maybe not – I kill Yuccas.

Don’t ask me how I do it, I just do.


NotW Fallout continued…

In the wee hours of Sunday morning an old corroded filling fell out on to my pillow.

I know, rather more information than you needed and what does it jolly well have to do with News Corp?

Well, be patient and I will reveal all.

I hot-footed it to my dentist on Monday. After poking and prodding around for a few minutes he began to mutter something inaudible under his breath.

He then leaned back on his black leather swivel chair and shook his head. I have a sweet-tooth so I knew it would be bad.

Sorry, I am digressing again….

He told me off for missing so many appointments in the past year and I explained that I am a journalist who was doing shift work at the time.

It was then a light came into his eyes as if he were possessed by an evil spirit and he began to talk about the NOTW and all the revelations and allegations.

You see, I told you I would get to the point eventually.

His accent suggested he was Eastern European but he was a little reticent about mentioning where he was born.

He would only refer to his homeland as “my country”.

My country has problems…..the state…… Britain is democratic….. we look to [Britain]..”.

He was genuinely disconcerted by the unfolding News of the World drama.

He went on to say that if “we” could not get it right what chance did his country have.

I have to admit I was surprised. I had forgotten that other countries still see the UK as a shining beacon for democracy, ethics and morals.

My dentist’s perspective was in stark contrast to my nonchalant taxi driver a few days earlier who was not remotely surprised by the news headlines.

I have taught myself not to get bothered with all that stuff otherwise I would be pulling my hair out,” he stated.