UKuncut's credibility gets blown pie high

Posted by Christie Malry on July 19, 2011 at 11:18 pm

19 July, as all good Father Ted fans know, is the date that Galway was liberated from Indians, Marathon became Snickers, and the Ice Age ended. And it's this auspicious date that the House of Commons Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee chose to take evidence from Rupert Murdoch over the phone hacking debacle. At the heart of their enquiry was the idea that, as Chairman and CEO of News Corp, Murdoch is ultimately responsible for everything that takes place in News Corp. In his evidence, Murdoch sought to play down this notion, pointing out that News of the World is a tiny part of his enormous multinational business.

How ironic, then, that Jonathan May-Bowles, a founding figure in the UKuncut movement should decide to pull a decidedly UKuncut-style stunt at the hearing and attempt to land a shaving foam pie in Murdoch's face. In doing so, he has allowed Murdoch to be portrayed as an elderly victim of violence, instead of the focus being on his control over some of the nether reaches of his empire.

Even more extraordinary has been the subsequent response from UKuncut and its supporters. The @UKuncut account rushed to deny that it was a UKuncut campaign, despite the close similarity to their techniques and the involvement of one of their founders. Having initially said that they had found the pie-throwing 'funny', they deleted the tweet. Their supporters also sought, in time-honoured UKuncut style, to deny that this was a UKuncut action. Incredibly, some even tried to argue that, because Murdoch wasn't hurt, this wasn't a violent incident.

People have argued before that, in order to be credible, UKuncut must accept its violent fringes and both apologise and deal with them. It shows no signs of doing anything of the sort. For as long as UKuncut denies any involvement in violent protest, despite the pretty clear evidence too the contrary, it can have no credibility in the UK political scene. And it cannot expect businessmen such as Sir Phillip Green and Rupert Murdoch to exercise control over the minutiae of their global empires while it itself seems both unable and unwilling to address the actions undertaken by its supporters (and close supporters at that) at the events it organises and in the public sphere.