Friday, 27 April 2012

The Tale Of A Politician And Two Magnates

Scotland's First Minister is certainly under fire this week over his relationships with two of the western world's business tycoons.

The faux fury of opposition leaders was rather pathetic - a generous description - at FMQs yesterday when they questioned Alex Salmond about his tea drinking and dining habits in the company of Rupert Murdoch and Donald Trump. (To call Donald Trump 'The Donald' is a misuse of what is normally regarded as an affectionate style of nickname by the media).

Rupert Murdoch is displayed as a tyrant these days although it's not so long ago he was wined and dined by the great and good - and not so great or good - of British politics.  Today these same politicians are depicting Murdoch as singlehandedly ruining British politics.  Of course it's true that Murdoch is influential, as would be expected of a person who owns The Times and the best selling Sun, but surely his influence is overestimated.  Murdoch didn't destroy British politics - the leaders of British politics, by default, made Murdoch influential. Murdoch is only as powerful as politicians have allowed him to be.
He's not the first - and won't be the last - newspaper proprietor to gain influence in Britain.

Now British politics wants Murdoch banished from Britain's shores, but will his removal improve British political life?  Of course not, because so many politicians have been cosying up to media owners/editors for years and have alienated themselves from the public. It's so much easier to meet with a media boss than to face a room full of voters who have no hesitation in voicing their everyday concerns.

Today's leaders David Cameron and Nick Clegg consider themselves 'people friendly' when their advisors organise the media's presence at one of their public Q & A sessions. But the voters recognise just how staged managed these events are. Remember when Mandelson was caught on film 'directing' one of Tony Blair's 'public' meetings? No politician today has the skill to communicate directly with the public without the use of umpteen press officers who distribute press releases daily to Britain's media.

Certainly Alex Salmond's association with the media mogul has created world news and gaining international attention can do little harm to the First Minister when he insists his actions were all concentrated on keeping jobs in Scotland. Can the opposition parties prove otherwise?  No. 

One of Murdoch's staff acted immorally and Murdoch is aware his empire will never fully recover from the justifiable fall out. If he decides to sell the Sun and The Times there's little doubt the new owners will also meet with political leaders. It's the skill of the leaders which will establish the level of these relationships but I would suggest that offering a cup of tea during any meeting is not recommended.

As for Donald Trump's petulant, contradictory performance at Holyrood this week, it's hardly worth mentioning. His response, when challenged to provide evidence that building thousands more wind farms would destroy Scottish tourism, must have made his PR office shudder with embarrassment: "I am the evidence. I  am considered a world-class expert in tourism."

Will Trump's brash outpourings affect overseas investment in Scotland?  I think not, but he can be given a little credit for bringing the serious issue of windfarms back to the top of the Scottish political agenda.


Oldrightie said...

Politicians are magnetically drawn to magnates, aren't they?

Richard T said...

Stanley Baldwin got it right in 1930 (I think) when he castigated the then media tycoons of Rothermere and Beaverbrook as seeking the harlot's prerogative throughout the ages - power without responsibility. He also added that they were the sort of men he would not have in his home. The difference now with Murdoch, Trump and their ilk is that politicians actively seek their company and solicit their opinions to act upon them to the profit of these creatures and the detriment of the country.

JRB said...

This whole ‘Murdoch’ saga is becoming totally over hyped, mostly by rival media outlets, and is now nothing short of boring.

You don’t become a media mogul without being a little power hungry, have a bit of a ruthless streak or enjoy sailing close to the wind on occasions.
Anyone with two brain cells could work that out.
As for socialising and dining with such a mogul - it’s always best tae sup wi a lang spoon.
I’m sure Mr Salmond did just that.

As for Mr Trump, only one word comes to mind - Eejit !

footdee said...

Rosa ,I think that was the best summery of this whole affair, I have read

subrosa said...

They are OR and all in the name of ensuring they will create more jobs of course. ;)

subrosa said...

Ah, but back then we had politicians of substance Richard and not the salesmen and women we have today.

Until us voters decide to disregard those of shallow thought, today's behaviour will continue, with our without Murdoch. That would take a complete revamp of our electoral system and a return to the old hustings system would be a start.

subrosa said...

It is becoming tiring JRB but I thought I ought to record something about the week's events.

I'm sure Salmond was as canny as ever and probably never offered Murdoch a piece of Dundee cake with his tea. Ms Lamont, during her dreadful performance yesterday, didn't ask, possibly because she wouldn't have liked the answer. :)

subrosa said...

Why thank you footdee, that's really kind of you to say. You've made my day. :)

Anonymous said...

All that happened was that Trump made an embarrassing spectacle of himself. I am the you say; they must have shuddered!

And Lamont? She's too daft to understand what a fool she made of herself criticising Salmond for doing what her own leaders in London have done 100 times more. Godfather Blair comes to mind.

Why do her researchers not do some researching before they hand her these questions? And why, when Alex has answered something, does she continue to use the discredited information to further make a fool of herself.

Alex's quote from her 'Good Morning Scotland' interview was classic when she sort of reluctantly admitted that she would have spoken to the "rich men" too. Of course she would. That would be part of her job. You don't bring jobs to Scotland by talking to people who only have £1.40 to invest.

Just because she can manage the odd 'funny' Jimmy Kranky style line doesn't make her a statesman.

And if she is going to "read" everything from a script, she should practise reading. Stuttering over her lines really looks pathetic.

Finally, for her to criticise Alex for hiding over the last few days (particularly when he has suffered a family bereavement), is a bit thick when she appears to live in a bunker.

Demetrius said...

Grannie (maiden name Scott) always used to say "A man is judged by his friends." But that was another age, perhaps.

Brian said...

I wonder if the problem has been caused in part by the growth of 24 hour rolling news (I'm old enough to remember the daily press briefings by Ian MacDonald during the Falklands in 1982 and the novelty of continuos "Scud FM" in Gulf War 1. News had to be manufactured to fill the space allocated to it and instant editorial analysis was deemed necessary, hence the growth of the "expertocracy" and press officers. Would we really lose anything if news went back to daily dollops and a thoughtful weekend roundup? I've given up on newspapers in their present form.

Anonymous said...

Lord Putnam was quoted as saying that all Leveson had managed was to do was expose not just the press but the politicians, the celebs and the police as corrupt. Sounds good to me.

The display by MSPs yesterday, baying and banging their desks, was disrespectful to the Scottish parliament and the Scottish people.

Alex seems to handle things whether they be with a "magnate" or an opposition party leader.

subrosa said...

Johann Lamont is like her predecessor Tris. She has a preprepared script and sticks to it. She's unable to respond to Eck's answers.

I didn't realise Eck had a family bereavement but I do realise Ms Lamont will never be a public speaker of any note - even if she does have lessons at the taxpayers' expense.

subrosa said...

Demetrius, I still stick to that adage but perhaps my generation will be the last.

subrosa said...

I doubt if we'd miss much at all Brian, but one thing the 24 hour news has exposed is the weakness in politicians of all hues. Mind you I still think the media protect them too.

subrosa said...

If I'd been visiting for the first time yesterday TT I would have been less than impressed by the behaviour of our elected and non-elected representatives.

Observer said...

Salmond is not in trouble for speaking to Murdoch. He is in trouble for supporting the BSkyB bid which would have strengthened Murdoch's hold on the media. He is also in trouble for having friendly relations with Murdoch as recently as February when the extent of the wholescale corruption between NI & the Met was known. I think his judgement was appalling, but it was Salmond flying solo I really doubt the rest of the party support his position.

However all this is small beer compared to what the Tories were doing & what New Labour did before.

I think Salmond has damaged himself because he was supposed to be different. It turns out he isn't that different after all, however, that does not bother me one iota, because a political argument should never depend on a leader. It should stand up alone & in the case of independence it does.

subrosa said...

Observer, I interpreted the week's reports as he was in trouble for speaking to Murdoch plus of course supporting the BSkyB bid.

He says he supported the bid because it involved Scottish jobs. Anyway the UK media is still safely in the hands of the BBC who have no real competition.

Completely agree with your last paragraph. Well said.

Jo G said...

I totally agree with Observer's post on this one. It sums my own position up exactly.

This association with Murdoch, of all people, was a bad move by Salmond.

If we despair and disapprove strongly of the relationships previously forged between Murdoch and most PMs since Thatcher, and particularly with Blair, then we don't have to look for reasons why we wouldn't want to see him anywhere near our First Minister.

Murdoch's publications are bad news and so is he.

It is one thing for Salmond to introduce himself to Murdoch but it should have stopped there particularly when his organisation became embroiled in criminal investigations. Murdoch's people had no scruples not even when it came to hacking into the phone of a dead girl. I do not understand why Salmond would want to be seen with him.

I expected better from Salmond and the SNP. Salmond should have known better, jobs or not. I think, regardless of Lamont's shortcomings, this has damaged the SNP and Salmond personally. And regardless of Labour's hypocrisy in having a go the point, for me, is they should never have been gifted such an opportunity to kick up such a stink on the matter. I condemned Blair's close relationship with Murdoch so it is simply not possible to defend Salmond having anything to do with him.

subrosa said...

I won't defend Salmond Jo but all politicians have to communicate with newspaper bosses. That's the modern way of ensuring their message gets in the papers.

The Times has been ok since Murdoch bought it. Far better than the Scotsman's latest owners.

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