Anyone who saw Question Time last night will be in no doubt. Monday’s Dispatches has ignited an explosion of public anger and alarm at the practices of News International.
Significantly, there is a growing realisation that the phone hacking scandal is a symptom of a much deeper disease: the media dominance of the Murdoch empire. It’s important to remember that, whatever the course of any investigations, whatever the fate of Andy Coulson, the disease will spread unless treated.
As we have said repeatedly, the treatment required is to tighten up our lax rules on media ownership through the establishment of a commission. But how will this come about? The government (like its predecessors) both fears and relies upon Murdoch and is very unlikely to act unless there is a considerable outcry and pressure.
Will there be pressure from the opposition? So far, despite words of agreement and support during their conference in Manchester, not one Labour MP has given their name to this campaign. Perhaps things will change now that Ed Miliband and his new shadow cabinet are shaping their policies. We hope so. And we hope the new shadow Culture Secretary, Ivan Lewis, will be bold enough to press the case for a media commission.
For now, though, it’s up to us continue to enlist the support of the millions of people in Britain who share our concerns. What better demonstration of The Big Society?
Incidentally, of the hundreds of people we have been in contact with, no-one has yet given any reason or argument whatsoever about why there shouldn’t be a media commission. We eventually expect the usual mutterings of “not necessary”, “costly”, “bureaucratic”, ” long winded” and so on, but nothing even on those lines has yet been brought to our attention. Do let us know about any reactions you might receive.