Rupert Murdoch, the Establishment and why I can't wait to see Conrad Black on Have I Got News for You

On outsiders pretending to be insiders and insiders pretending to be outsiders

Share
Related Topics

This evening Conrad Black, the disgraced crook and former media proprietor, will appear on Have I Got News For You. If you've seen his rumpus with Jeremy Paxman on Newsnight earlier this week, or with Adam Boulton a day later, you'll know that we've reason to expect fireworks. I'm obviously rooting for Ian Hislop to give him a hard time, and suspect he will.

I hadn't realised until this week just what an astonishing creature Black, who I have never met, is; and in particular, the effort he has invested in earning the affection of the British Establishment. A brilliant, maverick and ultimately criminal businessman, the latter half of his career seems to have been devoted to a form of wealthy entryism.

He bought the Telegraph titles, morning bibles of the aristocracy. He got the townhouse in Kensington. He hosted lavish parties, and most devotional of all, in 2001 he renounced his Canadian citizenship in order to become a member of our House of Lords.

In all this, he was in direct contrast to his great rival, the brilliant Australian-American Rupert Murdoch. Sure, Murdoch got cosy with Britain's rulers – but only because he abided by the principle that you keep your friends close but your enemies closer. He bought the Sun and News of the World, morning bibles of our working-class. Sure, he bought the Times' titles, but he immediately declared his aim to purge them of servility. He based himself in New York, not Kensington. He didn't so much host parties as let his children host them for him.

Murdoch's career in Britain is best understood as a decades-long insurrection against the Establishment. He's a republican who thinks we're ruled by amateurs and lefties – and sometimes a combination of the two – exemplified by the BBC. Murdoch's career in Britain was a project aimed at shaking the very foundations of Britain and changing it from below. Black's career in Britain was – still is – a project aimed at lubricating the upper echelons of our society, and so keeping it the same. The Australian is an outsider pretending to be an insider, whereas the Canadian is an insider pretending to be an outsider. Rupert the Radical, the great debaser; and Conrad the Courtier, the great debaucher.

This is the context in which to see and understand the latter's prolific media spree. The irony is that Black's so desperate to be loved by our Establishment he's going around television studios threatening to punch some of the nation's favourite journalists.

I can't wait for tonight!

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Reach Volunteering: Financial Trustee and Company Secretary

Voluntary Only - Expenses Reimbursed: Reach Volunteering: A trustee (company d...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Project Manager

£45000 - £65000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Shopfitter

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join a successful an...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Sales Account Manager

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Digital Sales Account Manager...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Emily Thornberry  

Left-leaning patriots unite! Let's get straight about Ukip

Katy Guest
Gary Catona has worked with a number of high profile singers including Stevie Wonder, pictured  

High pitch: In search of the next Whitney

Simmy Richman
Mau Mau uprising: Kenyans still waiting for justice join class action over Britain's role in the emergency

Kenyans still waiting for justice over Mau Mau uprising

Thousands join class action over Britain's role in the emergency
Isis in Iraq: The trauma of the last six months has overwhelmed the remaining Christians in the country

The last Christians in Iraq

After 2,000 years, a community will try anything – including pretending to convert to Islam – to avoid losing everything, says Patrick Cockburn
Black Friday: Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Britain braced for Black Friday
Bill Cosby's persona goes from America's dad to date-rape drugs

From America's dad to date-rape drugs

Stories of Bill Cosby's alleged sexual assaults may have circulated widely in Hollywood, but they came as a shock to fans, says Rupert Cornwell
Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

As fans flock to see England women's Wembley debut against Germany, the TV presenter on an exciting 'sea change'
Oh come, all ye multi-faithful: The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?

Oh come, all ye multi-faithful

The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
Dr Charles Heatley: The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

Dr Charles Heatley on joining the NHS volunteers' team bound for Sierra Leone
Flogging vlogging: First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books

Flogging vlogging

First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show: US channels wage comedy star wars

Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show

US channels wage comedy star wars
When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine? When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible

When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine?

When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible
Look what's mushrooming now! Meat-free recipes and food scandals help one growing sector

Look what's mushrooming now!

Meat-free recipes and food scandals help one growing sector
Neil Findlay is more a pink shrimp than a red firebrand

More a pink shrimp than a red firebrand

The vilification of the potential Scottish Labour leader Neil Findlay shows how one-note politics is today, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Tenderstem broccoli omelette; Fried eggs with Mexican-style tomato and chilli sauce; Pan-fried cavolo nero with soft-boiled egg

Oeuf quake

Bill Granger's cracking egg recipes
Terry Venables: Wayne Rooney is roaring again and the world knows that England are back

Terry Venables column

Wayne Rooney is roaring again and the world knows that England are back
Michael Calvin: Abject leadership is allowing football’s age-old sores to fester

Abject leadership is allowing football’s age-old sores to fester

Those at the top are allowing the same issues to go unchallenged, says Michael Calvin