Scotland: News International’s hold over Cameron

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by Hazel Lewry

What we have been waiting for has finally happened, Rupert Murdoch as a policy director of mainstream media has broken ranks and tweeted support for Scots independence.

The media mogul is currently facing difficult legal inquisitions into his affairs on both sides of the Atlantic. Under such circumstances a lessening of pressure from any area would be a welcome reprieve.

For a man like Rupert Murdoch it all comes down, historically, to applied pressure or the implied threat of it. Applied pressure is what politicians fear from the media, it causes anything from mild consternation around Westminster’s water coolers through to resignations and even jail time.

Political leaders do not like applied pressure, from wherever source, that is why they so avidly court those with the ability to quickly spin a story into harmlessness or develop it into a rapier stroke through the heart.

Rupert Murdoch, his family and friends, have been under extreme pressure from the UK government. He has lost a title, News of the World, and its revenues. He has also lost a takeover, for now, and his media have been rabidly anti-independence, until now.

The Sun carried the infamous noose picture on Election Day, 2007, and although supporting the SNP in 2011 it did so under the banner of it being the best option on the table while stating it firmly opposed independence.

What has changed is Westminster’s actions, lifting the carpet on Fleet Street through the Leveson inquiry.  There’s a feeling abroad that the investigation is still only grabbing one corner of the rug, and if it ever takes it outdoors into the sunshine for a good beating there’s no telling what might drop out.

The head of NI has now finally realised Westminster’s open goal that’s been staring him in the face for years, Scotland.

Rupert Murdoch knows that David Cameron will do anything short of selling his soul to keep the UK together, and even that hasn’t formally been taken from the table.

This media mogul knows that he holds the fate of the Union in his hands. He can help to ensure that Alex Salmond’s probable 2014 “Yes” becomes a landslide of monumental proportions.

NI is well aware that all they need do is run a weekly set of stories that tell the true, unvarnished, unspun facts and the undecided will jump to the “Yes” camp, that many in the “No” camp will jump to the undecided.  The rump UK vote will be but a shadow.

Rupert Murdoch also knows that David Cameron is aware of this, and that once the genie is out the bottle, there’s no putting it back.

The only question remaining from the UK PM’s viewpoint was whether Murdoch’s company would actually use this most potent of weapons in its arsenal, this Scotland of ours.

That question was answered with two tweets from Murdoch himself, the first praised First Minister Alex Salmond, and the second told Westminster to “Let Scotland go and compete. Everyone would win.”

There’s only one viable interpretation.  It’s a message from Rupert Murdoch to David Cameron, “You’re attacking my family, you’re trying to destroy my family, and I care about my family.  Stop, or watch the same being done to what you claim is yours, for I can, and I will see you go down in history as the last Prime Minister.”

These are tweets the media has ignored, even as they give voice to so many others that are comparatively irrelevant.  None except NNS even thought it worthy of comment, this is almost unheard of.  When someone as significant as Rupert Murdoch speaks out on any important issue it is often viewed as a “game changer”.  Instead we get media silence, even from his own tabloids.

The stakes have been quietly raised, but the endgame has not yet started.  These tweets can be viewed as a personal opinion, News International’s empire could still continue to support the UK juggernaut.  Everything is now on the board and it’s Cameron’s move.

We will know the outcome of the game, even if the very existence of the game is denied. Leveson will be neutered, the NI empire will go on and no executive of significance to Rupert Murdoch will be put on trial.  No one of significance in the NI world will get more than a knuckle rapping, quickly forgotten after much sensationalism to show the wheels of justice have turned.

Or we will see the NI media empire turn its focus fully on support for independence.  This would have a secondary benefit for Murdoch’s organisation in that it should also see its sales increase.  In this circumstance truth will win, Scotland will win.

The only question still needing answered before the game properly begins, will David Cameron blink, will he capitulate before the action really starts.

In either scenario we will have our answer as events unfold.