The Times, the money-lenders, and the Church

Of storms and tea-cups

Why has The Times, of all sources, been so ambivalent about the Occupy London protest outside St Paul’s?

Overnight, it seems, the paper will be reporting that the Cathedral will be re-opening after the tents were persuaded to move back ten feet — ten feet! — from the north side of the edifice

to make way for tourists and worshippers.

Which of those two groups is the more numerous, and the more fleeced?

A gang-way of three metres can hardly be represented as a major defeat for the protesters, especially as they have consistently been at pains to declare how happily they will co-operate with the Cathedral Chapter.

Today’s print edition of the paper was reporting there was a widening split in the Cathedral Chapter:

St Paul’s Cathedral is so divided over the protest on its doorstep that its Canon Chancellor has threatened to resign if it moves to evict the encampment, The Times has learnt.

Dr Giles Fraser, who is responsible for the cathedral’s relations with the financial institutions of the City of London, is understood to be prepared to quit should it take legal action against the 200 tents forming an increasingly permanent-looking settlement on its land.

Senior clergy and staff at the cathedral, which closed indefinitely on Friday, are now in deadlock. The Dean, the Right Rev Graeme Knowles, and the Registrar, Nicholas Cottam, are in favour of joining the local authority to seek an injunction against Occupy London.

Then there is the letters column. Pride of place there today was Nicholas Carden of London EC4:

Sir, So compellingwas the piucture painted by Libby Purves of a great cathedral brought to closure by the protest camp that I went to see for myself.

To my surprise, the whole of the front entrance was completely accessible, and the camp itself was neatly contained to the side. There may be good reasons why the cathedral and/or City authorities have sanctioned its closure,but none was immediately apparent to me. Even the most generous interpretation of “health and safety could not justify it …

Many, if not most (Malcolm has done no poll) other observers would see the same glaring truth.

The suspicion remains that the closure last Friday of St Paul’s was a political decision.

The parson told the sexton, and the sexton toll’d the bell.

Or, in this case, the bankers told the City of London, and the City engaged their Elfin Safety menials, and discreet but positive pressure was applied on the Cathedral administrators, and so the Cathedral key was turned.

It’s the back-stairs, out-of-sight, nod-and-wink way things get done in this town.

Which leaves only the Times‘s position to be explained.

Well, here’s another thought: James Murdoch is not going to be the next head of the Evil Empire; and some types at Thomas More Square, E98 1TY, must be looking forward to the change of emperor. Roy Greenslade explains all:

Rupert Murdoch’s son James is a busted flush. The votes against him at the News Corporation annual meeting signal that the chances of him heading his father’s company have virtually disappeared.

It’s now a case of heir today and gone tomorrow. He may cling on to a hope that, given the passing of time, he will regain his status. If so, he is in denial.

Around 35% of the shareholders – and a much more telling 55% of the independent shareholders – voted against his remaining a director of News Corp.

Indeed, leaving aside abstentions, the anti-James figure among independents rises close to 80%.

Whatever way you choose to cut them, these figures represent a direct assault on his credibility. James, rather than Rupert Murdoch, has become the magnet for investors’ concerns about the quality of New Corp’s corporate governance.

“The quality of corporate governance”— what a nice, neat phrase.

So, how could the day-to-day editing of the Times — symbolically — indicate a lack of faith in some aspect of “corporate governance”, if not by being ambiguous about that of the City and its most magnificent building?


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Filed under Britain, broken society, London, Murdoch, politics, Quotations, social class, Times

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