Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Ciao?

Yet to be confirmed, but it looks like the Italians have booted out (albeit by a very slender margin) that old crook Silvio Berlusconi. And a good thing too. How somebody who has vested interests in 90% of his country’s media could ever have been put in such a position is beyond my understanding. Imagine Rupert Murdoch being made PM in Britain and you’re not even close to an equivalent. Imagine Rupert Murdoch with shady links to organised crime, money laundering and bribing the judiciary and you’re getting there. Imagine Rupert Murdoch wearing a bandana like Silvio and shudder.

One of the many things I like about the British is that this just wouldn’t happen here. George Orwell once said that the reason fascism never took hold in Britain is that the sight of men in black uniforms goose-stepping through the streets of London would simply have caused fits of giggles. We could never take these people seriously as a rule. I’m not saying that Berlusconi is a fascist – although he does have something of an Il Duce complex – but somebody like him could never be supported by the majority of British voters for the same reason. If a power hungry media mogul stood for election in the UK he would be universally despised. We have a healthy dislike and mistrust of wealthy businessmen in this country (with the possible, unfathomable, exception of Richard Branson) and a long tradition of business interests being marginalised or discontinued should they ever enter the political fray. Long may this continue.

Having the likes of Murdoch around is bad enough: funnily enough, I’m not a fan of right wing, Australian-born, American citizens making billions from owning large pieces of our country’s media but not paying a penny in tax. This is objectionable enough. Electing him, or anyone like him, to high political office would be unthinkable.

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