I’m watching the James Murdoch interrogation as I write and have to admit to being mightily impressed. Not by the process or by the results of the process; I’m impressed by how easily Murdoch is holding them off without breaking into a sweat. Not that I think for a moment that James is as pure as the driven snow and not that I think the Commons culture, media and sport select [CMSSC] committee don’t have some points to make. But it seems to me that, despite their having written down a series of wide-ranging and searching questions so as to avoid the bumbling incompetency that the previous session displayed, they just can’t get the man to admit to being a liar and a conspirator. Well, he’s probably not going to do that, is he?
Tom Watson has tried hard to get Murdoch to answer ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to rambling insinuations and in doing so lost the intellectual argument. His parting shot was of accusing Murdoch of being a Mafia boss, for Heaven’s sake!
I’m left with several clear impressions; first, the approach taken by the CMSSC suggests it doesn’t have a clue on how corporate business conducts itself [even when a business might be acting inappropriately]; second, the CMSSC appears to be concentrating on nailing Murdoch rather than bringing more transparency to the alleged phone-hacking behaviour that he might have been complicit to and third, the longer this public nonsense continues the more credibility the CMSSC will lose as James Murdoch is never going to admit to any wrongdoing. Being guilty of a bad memory, not recalling conversations he may or may not have participated in or being inattentive to detail aren’t, after all, criminal acts.
After watching all this I have a better understanding of how medieval witch-hunts might have worked. I might also suggest that aspiring senior managers look and learn. James Murdoch might or might not be an honest man but if my company was in trouble I wouldn’t mind his going out to bat for me.