Murdoch ‘Pie’ Attack: I Was There

'Jonnie Marbles' getting handcuffed

Above is an image of “Jonnie Marbles” getting handcuffed outside the Wilson Room in Parliament. Below are images of the rest of us in the room being ejected. Here’s why everyone there found the stunt infuriating:

  1. The queues had started over seven hours before the committee began. It was like the Royal Wedding, but – genuinely – with normal people. Oldies, supermarket employees, families – normal. And while it was a festive mood, it was also tense: the official line as to how many people would get into the room kept changing, and some people were certainly facing a wasted day. Questions popped about. Was space being cleared for the Dowler family? Had the tiny Wilson Room been chosen so as not to look like a show trial? Was Jemima Khan trying to hop in? At one point, we were told that the Doorkeepers were considering letting us sit on each other’s laps if we so fancied. Westminster reporters were heckling sketchwriters about their slim chance of making it in. So when we later found out that the front of the queue had been a gang with a bag full of shaving foam, “comedy” wasn’t the first word that sprang to mind. Nor was “activism”. “Shabby oaf” and “stupid tit” were some of the descriptions I did hear.
  2. The dynamic in the room was entrancing – until it was cut off. Murdoch Jnr’s longer spiels were worthy of your favourite guest on Just A Minute – circumscribed vocabulary expressed with eerie diction, fending off attempts at interruption. “I’m happy to answer that,” indeed. As for Murdoch Snr, each time he rhythmically rapped his fin on the desk, the Wilson Room started by going instantly silent and then seemed to get more so. It wasn’t possible to tell whether this was deference on the part of the MPs, or anticipation of a juicy detail – but it was spell-binding. Knowing that the Murdochs, as non-subjects, were not compelled to attend meant that the ultimate authority never seemed to settle, though Headmaster Whittingdale had the lion’s share. Some of the questions felt a little random, but might have been leading somewhere that’ll become apparent in the months to come; we simply couldn’t tell. The experience was like those Richard Norton-Taylor inquest-recreation-play things, except real. Except – again – sometimes it didn’t seem real. There was Rupert Murdoch! In a room! Boom! Gone! For one afternoon, a functional room filled largely with shirted men was the greatest show on Earth. I swear I never once heard anyone whisper “You know what they should send in? Some clowns.”
  3. Which brings us to another shared source of exasperation. Moguls don’t tend to hang out in public space. This was like seeing Thor in a Job Centre. You don’t have to be fanciful or grandiose to feel proud that This Is How We (Eventually) Do Things – after all the tales of deceit and connivance, here was an open, public event, open to the public, where the public would show it was decent and fair. The public wasn’t supposed to be baffling, threatening or in any sense dickish. People were surprised that they were allowed to nip to the loo, drink fizzy water and chew gum. Hey – The Authorities don’t think we need to be treated like infants! Hmm.

Then, at just after ten to five, it was all over. An amazing, inspiring event ceased to exist as a piece of public property. I’d even missed the affray itself, because I was incredibly preoccupied with another bag-holder behind me, who had also stood up and seemed to be working his way round from the other side. Next we shuffled around as per the coppers’ yelled instructions, before eventually and sullenly trudging down the corridor to join Jemima Khan in the Boothroyd Room, cursing Jonnie Marbles. The committee was on the screens there, but what’s the point of watching something on TV if you have to remain decently dressed and you can’t even nip off to get a sandwich during another of Murdoch Jnr’s sixty-second dashes?

Finally, the speculation started again, including the inventive theory that News Corp had put the jackass up to it. “Because,” a punter noted, “that was the best thing to happen to Rupert Murdoch all day.”

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2 Responses to Murdoch ‘Pie’ Attack: I Was There

  1. Used your picture at my blog, with link back, of course.

    http://wp.me/p1KI1-ixZ

  2. […] This (courtesy of Liberal England) is an on-the-nose summary of muppet Jonathan May-Bowles’s decision to put his ego front and centre. You don’t have to be fanciful or grandiose to feel proud that This Is How We (Eventually) Do Things .. People were surprised that they were allowed to nip to the loo, drink fizzy water and chew gum. Hey – The Authorities don’t think we need to be treated like infants! Hmm. […]

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