Sunday, 26 February 2012

Salmond and Murdoch

Alex Salmond and Rupert Murdoch
All this fuss about Murdoch is getting quite ridiculous. So he isn't a blend of Bob Geldof and Stephen Fry! Cuddliness and loveability are not exactly defining characteristics of your average global media magnate. But neither is he the corporeal manifestation of unalloyed evil that some would have us believe. He's just a businessman!

And Salmond is a political leader. A very successful political leader. Dealing with the likes of Murdoch goes with the territory. A large part of the secret of Salmond's success, and his popularity, is his ability to combine hard-headed political pragmatism with a canny awareness of where the line is. If he can use Murdoch to further the cause of independence then all strength to him. To assume that it is Murdoch who is doing the manipulating is to seriously underestimate Oor Eck.

And to suggest that he might easily be duped into selling his political soul is a totally unwarranted slight to the man's character and integrity.

I find in Gerry Hassan's comments on this matter (Alex Salmond, beware this Faustian pact with Murdoch) more than a hint of a trait that has historically plagued the political left in Scotland. The naive notion that honourable failure is a worthy end in itself.

I am not suggesting that the SNP should resort to the kind of self-serving and principle-free expediency that characterises the old parties of British politics. But neither can the party behave as if they were a bunch of fiery-eyed idealists congregating in the back room of a pub to congratulate themselves on the ideological purity of their lost cause.

Salmond has to operate in the real world of big people's politics. A world that is the natural habitat of Murdoch and a great deal worse. Let's not condemn him for doing the very job he was elected to do.


  1. "I am not suggesting that the SNP should resort to the kind of self-serving and principle-free expediency that characterises the old parties of British politics."

    But cultivating such a close relationship with Murdoch is just that. In exactly the same way that it was with Blair and Murdoch.

    How is it appropriate that right now when New International is being exposed as a corrupt bunch of gangsters, that Salmond should have a relationship with the man that sits atop that corrupt, amoral and utterly reactionary organisation?

    I think your comments here and on my blog expose the central problem of the sort of apolitical Scottish nationalism that you and many of your co-thinkers subscribe to. That anything is justified. It is exactly the same (a)morality that informed New Labour. And look where that got us.

    1. You inevitably get your knickers in a serious twist if you start from the assumption that Murdoch is evil incarnate and Salmond a political naif pathetically susceptible to the blandishments of this Svengali. Such is the stuff of graphic novels - the only place where pure good and evil exist.

      The truth is that Murdoch is pretty run-of-the-milll as far as international business tycoons go. He ain't no angel, that's for sure. But angels don't get to run global media empires. The frenzied demonisation on the man has resulted in a caricature as divorced from reality as any cartoon character.

      Murdoch is undoubdetly ultimately responsible for the misdeeds of his employees. But the extent to which he is personally culpable is questionable. As things stand, he is not accused of any crime, far less convicted.

      And Salmond? What exactly is his crime here? What has he done that is wrong? Nothing! Unless you accept the caricature of Murdoch set out above and maintain that it is unacceptable for any elected official to ever have any contact with any person who has been portrayed in a negative light by his political enemies and business rivals.

      The very idea is ridiculous.

      If Salmond is ever shown to have acted improperly, I will be the first to castigate him. But I will not be drawn into some hate-fest promoted by the British establishment. It is absolutely not true that "anything is justified". There's the smear campaign against Salmond for a start.