Inquiryitis by Barbara Nadel

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We love a good public inquiry here in the UK – except that we don’t. The ‘public’ (me etc) hate them but those who matter, our politicians, love them. There’s a set form to a public inquiry here and is goes something like this:

Firstly something goes wrong. A child is murdered by its parents, we go to war, a media organisation gets caught being too powerful, a politician is caught out being corrupt. Our political masters then tell us all that the way to deal with something like this is to have a public inquiry. What this means is that a lot of lawyers get together to quiz various public and private persons about the matter and make a lot of money. Inquiries generate reports that make the Bible look like light reading and generally end with some very lowly official taking the rap for some political grandee to get him or her off the hook. We could cut out the middle man by just sacking the odd political aide, social worker or nurse from time to time but ‘democracy’ has to be seen to have been enacted – whatever that is.

In recent years we’ve suffered from the Chilcott Inquiry into the Iraq War during which ex-prime minister Tony Blair told the world that the deaths of both Brits and Iraqis had been worth bloody war to bring peace to Iraq. I am not alone in wondering where he thinks Iraq is – maybe somewhere in the Mendips – it clearly has nothing to do with Iraq the middle eastern country. But he did what he thought was right with regard to Iraq and so he was, he told Chilcott, running on a clear conscience. Good. Maybe he’d like to bring a few thousand people back to life and donate some of his vast fortune to the orphans he’s created – or even pay off some of the money it cost to organise the Chilcott Inquiry.

Lately we have been treated to the Leveson Inquiry. This is all about the Murdoch media empire and the British establishment’s relationship to it. Now it has been an open ‘secret’ in this country for decades that uber ambitious toad impersonator media tycoon Rupert Murdoch has been in and out of 10 Downing Street since the dark days of Margaret Thatcher. He’s curried favour with politicians and they in turn have stroked his back in return for good media coverage. Over the years he has been protected, nurtured and feted by successive governments. What has changed in recent years is that we’ve all found out that Murdoch’s journalists have been hacking mobile phones in order to get an inside track into various news stories. Significantly they hacked into the phone of a girl called Milly Dowler who was later found murdered. Of course they hacked the phones of the rich and famous but they have been largely paid off now and so that side of the case is probably over. But doubts about the relationship between politicians and Murdoch remain – hence Leveson. Or not.

So far we’ve watched a vast array of ex-prime ministers, ministers, civil servants and journalists parade in front of Lord Leveson basically saying ‘It wasn’t me, guv, honest.’ So far a very minor ministerial aide has been sacked while his boss, the culture secretary Jeremy Hunt, looks on smugly. At vast expense the ‘democratic process’ is being opened up to scrutiny and once again we are being treated to the sight of our politicians moving their mouths about, protesting their innocence.

There is an old joke in this country which goes, ‘How do you known when a politician is lying?’ Answer, ‘His mouth is moving.’

Need I say more?

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