Theresa May has been cited as someone who does not get too close to the press. She keeps her distance from all the gossip, the intrigue, the small talk and tittle-tattle. So it might have been thought that her time as Prime Minister would see the influence of the press barons put into its rightful place, with them having to join the queue along with everyone else who wants the PM’s ear. That thought was badly misplaced.
The first inkling that Ms May’s Government was being manipulated by the press even more comprehensively than that of her predecessor came with the appointment by Culture Secretary Karen Bradley of Sun journalist Craig Woodhouse as her Special Advisor (SpAd). This was followed by the demand that the BBC reveal the salaries of all those working for the Corporation paid more than £150.000 a year.
This, by sheer coincidence you understand, was in line with Sun editorial policy, as was the renewed threat to forcibly dismember BT, not because of broadband performance, but because the company had parked its pay-TV talks on Murdoch’s lawn, taking the rights to UEFA Champions’ League football, as well as some FA Premier League matches, driving up the price of broadcasting rights in the process.
Now Theresa May has followed suit: while her predecessor allowed Rupert Murdoch to slip in to 10 Downing Street by the back entrance, she has shamelessly gone courting him instead, making time for a meeting with Don Rupioni while in New York City recently. Think about that: she was there for just 36 hours, and along with meeting all those heads of state and addressing the UN General Assembly … she made time to visit Murdoch.
That isn’t just giving access, it’s grovelingly going out and begging for it. As the Guardian has told - note, no other paper is reporting the event - “May managed to squeeze in the meeting with Murdoch during the one-night trip. On Tuesday evening, after the speech, May met staff from his Wall Street Journal title. Downing Street confirmed that a ‘brief meeting’ had taken place”. And it got a lot worse this week.
Two days ago, Murdoch’s son James slipped in through the back entrance to 10 Downing Street for a one-on-one with the new PM. This was observed by a keen Twitter watcher who noted the time as well as the date. So, far from keeping the press at arms’ length, Theresa May - as well as her weak and easily led Culture Secretary - has positively gone out there pleading for access to the worst corrupter of them all.
Rupert Murdoch’s reply to the question of why he hated the EU was never truer: “When I go into Downing Street, they do what I say; when I go to Brussels, they take no notice”. We don’t need an interfering foreigner who doesn’t have the vote in the UK sticking his bugle into our country’s affairs and subverting our democracy. Either Theresa May re-establishes the distance between herself and the media, or she goes.
We did not vote to put the Murdoch mafiosi in power. So they should not be.