Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Quid Pro Quo?

On Sunday morning, Radio 5 Live’s “Double Take” programme discussed the weeks proceedings at the Levenson enquiry, which saw the current Prime Minister, Chancellor and Deputy Prime Minster appear as well as two former prime Ministers and our First Minister.  The person they had on described the appearance of Salmond as a side show, which probably infuriated most of the MacBloggosphere and pleased Team Salmond in equal measures.

It would have infuriated members of the MacBloggosphere because it would have been seen as downgrading the First Minister.  Team Salmond would have been pleased as the message that there’s nothing to see except a leader fighting for Scottish jobs has gone out.  Yet there is still the suspicion that there was some sort of quid pro quo for the “positive” headlines garnered by the SNP in Scotland’s biggest selling English based tabloid.

However, had those with an axe to grind taken in some of the other submissions from Levenson, they would have seen a pattern emerge.  Murdoch said during his evidence that he never asked any British politician for anything (this was contradicted by John Major’s evidence), yet maybe he has a point.  Thatcher is supposed to have had a meeting with Murdoch prior to giving him the green light to purchase “The Times” and “The Sunday Times”, yet maybe she was already minded to allow the green light to go ahead.  remember both of them are avowed Capitalists that believe in reducing the power of the state, lower taxes, in pro-business governance and latterly in keeping the growing tentacles of the fledgling European Union (still called the EEC at that point) at bay.

Similarly with Blair, both are in agreement in key policy area’s.  The only discernible difference between those two was Blair’s enthusiasm for the “European project”.  The exact same can be said of Salmond.  Both men believe in pro-business governance, in low business taxation and both men share more than a passing dislike of the BBC.  Maybe the point Murdoch was trying to hide was not so much that he asked politicians for favours, but that he got favours without needing to ask for them.

Conversely, maybe that’s why he fell out with Major and Cameron.  Major had to be asked about Europe, only to not get the reply he wanted (regardless of whether Major was on his way out anyway and that Blair had been to visit Murdoch), while Cameron (and Hunt) talked about (and forgot about)tougher regulation of the BBC and of scrapping OFCOM (in a column for “The S*n” no less, just before that paper switched sides) yet could not win an outright majority so could not deliver both.  It was these columns that persuaded Wade/Brooks and James Murdoch to try and convince Murdoch senior to back Cameron and ditch Brown, causing that fallout.

Maybe that’s the real reason for there not being a quid pro quo regarding “The S*n’s” favourable coverage of the SNP.  As far as the SNP are concerned there is no quid pro quo.  On the other hand from News International’s perspective, the Quid Pro Quo is simply the SNP’s policy of seeking powers over Corporation Taxes (& should they get them, their “two in the bush” policy) and over regulating broadcast media in Scotland.


Longshanker said...

Murdoch also talked at Leveson about 'You scratch my back, I'll scratch yours.'

Back scratching has undoubtedly gone on. But it's all about jobs, jobs, jobs as we all now know.

The Wall Street Journal published a very positive piece on Scottish Independence recently. A scratched back there I think.

Salmond sticks it to the Observer
at Leveson - a nice diversionary scratch back scenario.

In business, Murdoch keeps his word on whatever is implicitly or explicitly agreed. It's why he has an almost exemplary business record.

I don't think Murdoch's much interested in Scottish independence other than as a means to stick it to the Cameron establishment for betraying him by calling the Leveson inquiry.

Time will tell. I think Salmond made a big mistake by making the back scratching so obvious.


Stuart Winton said...

A recent cartoon in the Scotsman perhaps summed things up - as I recall it it depicted a small Salmond on the knee of a big Murdoch, thus like the old Spitting Image puppets of David Steel and David Owen.

But who knows precisely what Murdoch's motivation is? Market-wise Scotland is small beer indeed to NewsCorp, but perhaps he does have aspirations for Scotland as a tax or regulatory shelter.

And of course it all helps get back at the London Establishment.

But whatever happens - of course, we'll never know the true motivations at work - Murdoch probably feels he has nothing to lose with cosying up to Salmond.

Salmond, on the other hand...

Allan said...

Longshanker, see the thing is that I don't think that any backscratching has gone on (yet) between Salmond and Murdoch. Remember that he was not asked to intervene on the issue of BSkyB. In any case, i think that Murdoch probably thinks that he has bigger cards to play.

Stuart. It's probably more to do with the potential for a small country with low taxation sitting on the doorstep of a large market. It's not just Salmond that has a lot to lose with his relationship with the Digger. There's an awful lot of SNP supporters and assorted "Cybernats" out there who look awfuly naieve over this.