Seized from the indebted Barclay family by Lloyds Bank, Tory-supporting titles the Telegraph, the Sunday Telegraph, and the Spectator are now being unceremoniously auctioned off. And one of the leading bidders is RedBird-IMI, a joint venture helmed by United Arab Emirates (UAE) vice-president and royal Sheikh Mansour.
The prospect of Abu Dhabi’s ruling regime running these publications has provoked anxiety amongst patriotic Tories.
“The Telegraph and the Spectator are great British institutions,” proclaimed Lord Charles Moore, a former editor for these outlets. “They should not be controlled by a foreign power.”
Instead, Tory grandees want them to be in the hands of a respectable British press baron – a figure like Daily Mail owner Lord Rothermere, GB News patron and hedge-fund billionaire Sir Paul Marshall…or Australian media mogul Rupert Murdoch.
To scupper the UAE bid, Tory culture secretary Lucy Frazer threatened to launch an Ofcom investigation into RedBird-IMI. Afraid of scaring away Emirati investors, however, Downing Street intervened to soften the government’s official tone.
With British capitalism in a sorry state, a more pragmatic – and desperate – wing of the ruling class understands that they can’t afford to be picky about who owns UK assets.
“Don’t get sentimental,” stated Tory investment minister Dominic Johnson. “It’s very important we remain an open economy if we’re to have the wealth and investment to power this country.”
Indeed, whilst frothing Tory types have been denouncing the potential UAE-Telegraph deal, Rishi Sunak has been rubbing shoulders with Abu Dhabi financiers – and other big business figures – this week at a ‘global investment summit’ at Hampton Court Palace, hosted by the Prime Minister in an effort to woo international capital.
Afraid of their rag of choice falling into unfamiliar, untrusted hands, headbanger Tories have raised a hypocritical hue and cry about the possible threat to press ‘freedoms’, media ‘impartiality’, and editorial ‘independence’ posed by the RedBird-IMI sale.
To justify their hysterical outcry, this Tory rabble point to the restrictions and repression that journalists in the UAE face. But wherever you look in the world, the capitalist press is not – and never has been – free and impartial. And this is even more obvious in the case of the Torygraph: an out-and-out mouthpiece of the Conservative Party.
“We do have media plurality in this country, up to a point,” remarked Baroness Wheatcroft, a former editor of both the Sunday Telegraph and the Wall Street Journal, responding to concerns about the Abu Dhabi offer. “But so many proprietors make their views quite evident in their coverage that I don’t think we can pretend that our newspapers are unbiased.”
“If we are going to have this conversation [about the Telegraph],” notes Robert Shrimsley, writing in the Financial Times, “let’s spare ourselves the humbug of pretending that existing British media moguls are as hands-off and virtuous as a Disney princess is chaste.”
“Individuals buy newspapers for status or power and invariably use them to advance personal or professional interests,” states the FT columnist. “And the roll call of UK press barons is hardly one to shout about.”
Here we have it from the horse’s mouth!
Whoever it may be, we can be sure that the next Telegraph tycoon will be a billionaire. And whatever country these new owners originate from, this paper – just like the rest of the establishment press and corporate media – will remain an organ of the capitalist class; a tool for defending the interests of the bosses and bankers.
Build ‘The Communist’!
We, on the other hand, are producing and distributing a workers’ press – a revolutionary weapon in the struggle against the dictatorship of the super-rich.
Our paper is backed by neither oil sheiks nor giant media monopolies, but by the efforts and sacrifices of workers and youth.