The Sketch: The mega-rich boys club too often given enough slack by their accusers

  • @SimonSketch

The Murdochs coming to Parliament was the event of the year. The press had to queue for five hours in the hope of being admitted and we don't do that lightly. The Murdochs had been given special dispensation by the Serjeant at Arms to come in a secret way. They are billionaires, you see.

The committee authorities were blocking one end of the corridor, so we couldn't get into it. The BBC had been tipped off about the right camera spot, so that was the place to stand. Suddenly they were walking among us: two evil emperors; the Murdochs surrounded by four big policemen – had they been arrested already? They didn't answer when I asked.

James passed within 18 inches, his strange dance club haircut and his staring dance eyes were all in pie range. His small, bald father with a face like a long oriental oblong; like a premier of China.

They may have turned up; they may have consented to answer questions, but whatever their personal qualities, they are, as it were, mutants and we are a branch down in a lower stage of evolution. Well, the members of the committee are anyway, the monkeys. There was Tom Watson, as ever, with by far the best line of questioning, very often commanding short answers.

There was a surprise newcomer in Louise Mensch. But the chairing by John Whittingdale... "flaccid" gives too strong a feeling of probing determination. He allowed young Murdoch to ramble his managerial multi-bollocks, time and again allowing the point to be overshadowed and obfuscated. Whether Whittingdale's admiration of Murdoch caused this, or his less famous caution of Mr Murdoch's journalism, who knows? Rupert pretended to be doddery, opening with an assertion that: "Today is the most humble of my life." He also gave himself 10-second pauses to consider answers and no one felt up to hurrying him along. He is what he is, after all. He said as little as possible, as concisely as possible. In fact, it was possible to like the old crocodile. The way he slapped the table to give emphasis and rhythm to his utterance, that still had an echo of the glories of his youthful dominion. There they were: father and son. The great but decaying father, who built a $40bn company, next to a son who may be presiding over its dissolution. Capitalism is a great and terrible thing, thank God.