Anthony Hilton recently revealed in his column in the London Evening Standard a conversation he once had with Rupert Murdoch about the UK’s membership of the European Union. His responses give us a clear insight into how leaving the European Union serves only those like Murdoch.
Mr. Hilton asked Murdoch why he was so opposed to the EU. “That’s easy”, Murdoch replied, “when I go into Downing Street, they do what I say; when I go to Brussels they take no notice.” A superb endorsement for remaining in the EU. Murdoch’s media empire, News International, owns The Sun, The Times and Sky Television. His newspapers are often critical of the EU, and this reflects the views of the unseen paymaster confirmed by Hilton’s revelation, exemplifying why the UK must remain in the EU.
“he wants us to leave, and he has given us ample reason to do the opposite of whatever he recommends”
Murdoch, unelected and unaccountable, boasts of his influence in Downing Street, and bases his dislike of the EU on his lack of influence within in. That is exactly as it should be. Democratically elected, publically accountable politicians should not be cowed by the views of a newspaper owner because they fear bad headlines. Of course, that is how Murdoch would like it to be. The Sun does criticise Cameron, particularly his puppet-show renegotiation, but the fact that Cameron still values and listens to Murdoch shows how behold Cameron is to News International’s agenda.
The EU, however, is beholden only to the voters, which is why it is so crucial that we remain in. I could talk all day about how British workers benefit from the EU social chapter and the 3 million jobs dependent on our trade with the EU, or how the UK is safer in the EU, cooperating with our neighbours to defeat international crime and terrorism. I could say that the founding principle of the EU was to promote peace in a continent which was wracked by conflict over centuries, tearing itself apart in the ages of Napoleon, Kaiser Wilhelm, and Hitler. I could counter the flag-waving nationalists by saying that it is patriotic to be pro-EU, because Britain is stronger in. But despite all this, Murdoch’s comments are possibly the most damaging thing to hit the Leave campaign, because it says something profound about how we are governed and how he wants us to be governed. He wants us out of the EU so that he can dictate government policy to Downing Street, without the EU preventing him from getting his way. This coming from the man who isn’t British (he has dual Australian-American citizenship). This coming from a man whose newspaper blamed the 96 victims of the Hillsborough disaster for their own deaths, and accused them of robbing the dead and injured, and attacking and urinating on police officers and paramedics. This from the man whose empire, News International, was found guilty by the Leveson Inquiry of systematic phone-hacking on a massive scale, and led to the closure of one of his newspapers, News of the World.
“bases his dislike of the EU on his lack of influence there”
Let us not forget that News of the World journalists hacked murder-victim Amanda Dowler’s mobile phone after her disappearance, and deleted text messages from her inbox, providing her parents with false hope that she was still alive. Murdoch had oversight for the conduct of his senior employees, and he let it happen. He and his company are shrouded in mystery, deceit, and unaccountable, unelected, and malignant behind-the-scenes influence in our country’s government. There are hundreds of reasons to stay in the EU, but he has handed us two on a platter; firstly, he wants us to leave, and he has given us ample reason to do the opposite of whatever he recommends, and secondly, so that we can keep the EU as a progressive bulwark, doing what is best for the people of Britain and the rest of the EU, whether or not Murdoch wants it.