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Why do the Tories want rid of Ofcom?

July 13, 2009

Now that David Cameron has realised he can’t just keep asking for a general election in order to win one, he’s decided that he might actually need to outline some policies. And so in a recent speech, he outlined a plan for spending cuts, including a rewording of Margret Thatchers’ “bonfire of the quangos”. However, more interesting than a rehashing of a 20 year-old policy that every politician has promised, but which none have actually delivered, was this bit of his speech:

With a Conservative Government, Ofcom as we know it will cease to exist. Its remit will be restricted to its narrow technical and enforcement roles.

So why would the Conservatives want to get rid of an organisation that raises most of it’s funds from the media industry it regualtes, not the taxpayer, and an organisation that raises over £200million for the Treasury every year?

Would it be cynical to link this story with Ofcom’s recent announcement that it will force Rupert Murdoch’s Sky to re-sell their premium channels at “whole-sale prices” to competitors such as Virgin Media and BT Vision? Or perhaps to join the dots between the Tories reducing Ofcom’s power and their head of communications, Andy Coulson, being the former editor of the News of the Word, a Murdoch owned paper?

Ofcom have often thwarted Sky’s attempts at domination of the pay-TV market, as have the European Commission (which might explain Cameron’s extreme Eurosceptism which sits uneasily next to the liberal face he’s been trying to give the Tories recently – but that’s another story). Cameron is pandering to Murdoch just as Blair did in ’97, and Murdoch’s influence in British politics has done far more to corrode public trust in politicians than the recent expenses-gate. People see their representives not representing them, but the interests of wealthy chief executives.

When Cameron won the Conservative leadership contest he promised a “new politics”, an end to “yah-boo politics”, but since then he has taken to engaging in a weekly slanging match with Gordon Brown at PMQ’s and his efforts to “de-toxify” the ‘Tory brand’ have been undermined by his decision to align himself with Coulson and Murdoch. Cameron has shown to be no different from the Tories of old, protecting the interests of those who can offer him the most, whether that be money or column inches.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. July 13, 2009 6:03 pm

    You’re right on all accounts here, and what a fantastic opener. I will say that those plans by the Tories to undo Maggie’s right to buy initiative will sit well with me, but they should be sitting well with me by my lot.

  2. July 14, 2009 8:59 pm


    You would’ve thought Labour might have reversed the right to buy by now, but I think it was the case that they didn’t want to interfere with the housing market while it was “booming”. Not that it stopped it from “busting” in the end.

  3. July 14, 2009 9:23 pm

    Boom and bust; All that is solid melts into air.

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