Twenty-five years ago today I, along with many a Morning Star supporter, would have been preparing to head out east of Tower Hill to join the courageous sacked print workers and journalists on the Saturday night picket of fortress Wapping.

Oh how the Establishment railed against us, and with them nearly every national title.

The trade unions were a cancer at the heart of British society, you see.

They were the bully boys, a threat to freedom of speech and opinion, an unaccountable power subverting the democratic process.

And now?

Well, we all know where we are – or do we?

It’s worth reminding ourselves of some profound truths.

Because in an age of 24-hour rolling news we are already seeing moves to bury the full depravity of what went on at the News of the World and still does in Murdoch’s empire under mutual backslapping, asinine comment and extraneous detail.

Murdoch and the rich and powerful whose interests he so assiduously promotes are desperate to cap this volcano of public outrage.

For all the righteous indignation and talk of inquiries, powerful interests way beyond Murdoch don’t want us to examine the fundamental questions.

Here is the flagship paper of an overweening media empire which helped hurl this country into war after war and then hacked the phones of relatives grieving at the loss of the very soldiers it had done so much to put in harm’s way.

And then, with a straight face, “campaigned” for the armed forces’ covenant.

Here is a rag which took genuine public grief at horrific crimes against children, manipulated it into dangerous and cynical campaigns to sell more papers, and all the while spied on the parents of the very murdered child in whose name it said it was acting.

Here is a sewer which gushes forth filthy smears that disabled people and single parents are scroungers who refuse to take responsibility, while its gilded executives – the son placed in the top job by daddy – sack others to save their own.

No-one should be surprised, because this is an outfit that vilifies migrants and Muslims while remaining in the grip of a foreign billionaire who scarcely pays tax in this country.

Through it all, of course, were the sub-pornographic titillation and advertising offers – the bread and circuses which were the News of the World’s stock in trade for a century and a half. For that reason alone, while no-one wants to see people losing their jobs as austerity stalks the land, I for one cannot summon up some faux nostalgia for the dirty little secret that came out each Sunday.

What sympathy comes from the leader columns of Murdoch’s papers for the hundreds of thousands of people who are being thrown out of work on account of the bankers’ gambling?

And this is the inconvenient truth which is lapping at the door of David Cameron and all he represents.

The News of the World was a pillar of the Establishment.

It and Murdoch have fuelled the furnace in which bigotry, nastiness and narrow-mindedness were boiled up and poured like an acid onto everything good in this society.

Worse for Cameron, he – as Blair before him – is bound by a thousand golden threads to Murdoch.

He went horse-riding regularly with Rebekah Brooks and shared last Christmas dinner with her.

Ed Miliband and Labour have astutely focused on Brooks and Andy Coulson.

The orchestration was so smooth this week that I sensed the hand of Peter Mandelson, who swore that Murdoch would regret pulling support for New Labour.

Everyone knows that Cameron is next in the crosshairs.

It was he who hired the disgraced former editor of the News of the World to be his press supremo.

Now Coulson is interviewed under caution, arrested and his testimony at Tommy Sheridan’s perjury trial being re-examined for… possible perjury.

The police themselves have a case to answer.

The original investigation was perfunctory in the extreme – we had already been told brazenly by Brooks at a parliamentary committee that her paper often paid police officers for information.

Think about that. It was eight years ago.

It was largely passed over by press, Parliament and police.

It was an admission of a serious crime – suborning public officials, police officers no less.

Then a senior police officer who was involved in the first fiasco investigation, got a job with Murdoch.
Now we know that the sums involved were rather large.

And for those who chose to see, the corruption was plain. I spoke about it in Parliament and in the courts, when I exposed the agent provocateur Mazer Mahmoud, aka the Fake Sheikh.

How they dismissed it as the whining of the left, yesterday’s men – the dinosaurs who were felled at Wapping a quarter of a century ago.

Now the situation has changed, changed utterly.

Miliband – still disturbingly faltering, but at least on the front foot – hit a vital seam when he said this week that it was people power that had done for Murdoch’s rancid title.

That’s true, but it required the sustained efforts of the fearless Tom Watson MP, the Guardian’s Nick Davies and others to keep this issue alive.

And that is what should be unleashed now.

The Murdoch game-plan is clear – use the crisis to push through a long-standing move to rationalise his print operation, squeezing the Sun to seven days a week while battening down the hatches and getting his mitts on BSkyB. Cameron’s aim is to kick this into the long grass.

And Ed is, well, doing his best.

It can’t be left to that.

This ought to be a tipping point.

The people who can make it so are the people, not the Parliament.

It is plain that it was the prospect of an advert-free News of the World being burnt publicly across the country tomorrow that forced Murdoch to pull the title.

In the age of Twitter and Facebook, calls for consumer or public action could spread in hours.
Now the public campaign needs to be sustained.

And while Brooks’s sacking became the central focus on the day and an entire paper was closed to keep her in place, the issues go beyond that.

She represents the sordid nexus between the Murdoch empire, 10 Downing Street, the police and MPs who were for so long too cowed to do anything about it.

That entire corrupted set of relationships must be dragged into the light of day.

At the centre of the web is Murdoch himself, a mogul who has made no secret of his desire to bend politics and politicians to serve his interests – like Silvio Berlusconi, operating across continents.

For 40 years Murdoch has played a central role in the war against the left in this country, against the unions, against working people and their interests, and for a capitalism red in tooth and claw.

His papers savaged the Labour Party until the Blairite coterie took over and began seeking and destroying all that was labour.

Even as Ed Miliband rose to land some punches on David Cameron, half the Labour front bench were still ruminating on the banquet they had enjoyed at one of Murdoch’s parties a couple of weeks earlier.

This is a moment when the basic line of division in the society stands exposed – hence attempts to bury that line as quickly as possible.

Something very big is happening. It comes after the MPs’ expenses scandal and then the outrage at the bankers’ bonuses and recklessness.

A third pillar of the Establishment is now cracking under public pressure and large numbers of people are beginning to glimpse the truth behind the facade.

The front page of the Financial Times, the world’s business paper, captured something of the moment on Thursday.
It pictured Murdoch fleeing a press pack at a golf club in Utah.

The world’s most powerful media baron telling the journos that he had “no comment” and looking for all the world like an aged mafioso taking refuge in Miami.

For that’s what this is all about, when all is said and done.

A mafia at the top of our society – suborning, running protection rackets, making offers you can’t refuse and occasionally rubbing out those who fall out of line.

So while it is good to see Cameron forced into announcing inquiries into the scandal, no inquiry headed by a British Establishment figure, judge or not, is going to address these questions.

It’s not about some egregious excesses, it’s about the whole rotten structure.

We have a long history of inquiries appointed in order to slow the pace of events and kick matters into that long grass.

I half expected a call for a royal commission – they usually take three years.

For progressives and the left, we cannot leave matters there.

These are circumstances where the left can find a resonance among much greater numbers of people.

We need to raise the banner high for the values and ideas which Murdoch sought to crush at Wapping.

I am discussing with many others across the spectrum how we can seize this time to shift the balance against an Establishment which is desperate to regroup, in order to drive through the structural adjustment of British society, support for militarism and a nasty populist bigotry – all the things that the News of the World specialised in.

Morning Star

July 8, 2011