Chris Bryant – a brave, lone voice

Today I salute Labour MP Chris Bryant. Last night he stood up and delivered what the Independent called an ‘incendiary speech’ in the House of Commons.

He accused News International of engaging in the “dark arts” of phone tapping, hacking and blagging and ‘warning off’ MPs not to pursue the phone hacking scandal – Murdoch’s minions have already told him in no uncertain terms that his actions ‘would not be forgotten’.

He also pointed his finger at the Met who he said had misled a Commons committee and failed to ‘join up the dots’ on a mass of evidence about phone hacking, and warned of a ‘dangerously close’ relationship between the Met and News International. Brave stuff Chris, thank you for having the courage to speak up – something your colleagues have so far failed to do.

I hope this incendiary speech has the effect of lighting the blue touch paper on a scandal which the rich and powerful have been trying to bury – by fair means and foul – since 2006. Yes, this is a scandal about illegal phone tapping, hacking, blagging and an incompetent if not corrupt Met, but it’s also about so much more.

Over three decades, a succession of senior politicians, through naive self-interest and incompetence have allowed Rupert Murdoch to create a media empire that is now so powerful that it has a greater influence on the decisions and actions of our politicians than the needs of the people they represent. Rupert Murdoch is the 24th member of the Cabinet. His reaction is considered when Cabinet decisions are made. His cohorts intimidate and threaten those in positions of power to achieve the outcomes he requires: and his influence remains unaffected even when his companies are involved in potentially one of the biggest scandals of our time.

Rupert Murdoch and News International are distorting our democracy and emasculating the political process. Far from allowing him to increase his influence by not objecting to his purchase of the remaining shares in BSkyB, we should be reining in his power and demanding that he reduce the number of newspaper titles he’s allowed to own – and banning cross media ownership.

Chris Bryant has showed great courage in taking on the ‘evil empire’. I hope others will be inspired by his example and give him support. Surely it’s time The Communications Act 2003 was amended? Wouldn’t this be the best way to curb Murdoch and restore our democracy?

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