Will there be any other guests accompanying us today sir?” She said with her radiant smile.
“No,” he replied, “Just get this thing off the ground and bring me some coffee”.
The stewardess hoped that coffee would be all he wanted on this flight to London, some of his previous demands had been far more onerous.
With all that he had achieved, one would have expected Dandelion to be a happy man; today he wasn’t. Within minutes of him settling into his seat, the G5 took off. The wheels left the tarmac and rotated into their bays, his coffee arrived and he began ranting to himself.
How dare they summon me like this? It was me who put them into power in the first place. If I hadn’t shifted my support from the Labour Party to the Conservatives four weeks before the election, Labour would still be in power and the Conservatives would still be the opposition. Perhaps some compromises had to be made but that‘s no reason to humiliate me like this.
In Dandelion’s opinion, the compromises were the real reason he was being summoned to the House of Commons, to be grilled by this damnable Robertson Inquiry committee.
Blain should be kissing my arse not humiliating me; it was Blain’s policies that were in place not that of Labour or the bloody Liberal Democrats.
Dandelion had built his empire on the knowledge that information and how it was disseminated or not, was the key to everything. Any slant could be put on any story and made to convey precisely what you wanted it to. Since his early days as an assistant editor, he knew that reporting a story in a certain light would put a spin on it. This could be positive or negative. When shown in a positive light, the recipient of the article benefited, they were usually very grateful and often demonstrated that gratitude.
He used that knowledge well over the last 50 years to build the world’s largest media group. He had been in the news business all his working life. At the age of 16 he joined his uncle’s newspaper. He had worked his way up through assistant editor to where he was now, the sole owner of one of the largest and probably most powerful media companies.
For fourteen years he had supported the Labour Party. His media outlets had been intrinsic in the shaping of New Labour’s media image and that of their leader. He, had also benefited enormously both by Labour’s new stance to the Unions and their embracing the fiscal policies begun by Margaret Thatcher a decade before.
Many would have said he was a friend of the party’s hierarchy. He spent a lot of time in their company, but to him, it was purely business. During those boom years, where further fiscal relaxation made everyone money, he put the might of his media empire behind them.
In 2010 he saw an opportunity. For three years the country had been in the midst of a recession. A general election was due which, he felt sure, Labour would lose. The recession was not confined to the UK, it was endemic and worldwide. It was known as the Banker’s Crisis, where years of relaxing the fiscal policies had brought about a very unstable condition. The retail banking system: the consumer and commercial banks were so intertwined with the investment banks and their worth so artificially inflated, that they had become vulnerable. This wasn’t the first time this had happened.
After the Wall Street Crash of the 1920’s, it was recognised that having institutions that did both retail banking and investment banking had a serious flaw. In that, a series of bad investments on the investment side could bring down the consumer divisions, which is precisely what caused the crash in the Twenties. Thus, after this crash, fiscal banking laws had been put in place to prevent it happening again.
But, over the past 20 years these fiscal controls had been gradually eroded, allowing the big high street banks once again to buy up investment houses, creating mammoth institutions. Property formed the mainstay of the bank’s physical assets and as they bought, so did the general public. Facilitated with the easily available credit the banks now supplied; prices sky-rocketed.
Until the inevitable happened, the bubble burst. The result: cascading property prices worldwide, followed by a run on the liquidity of the banks as the value of the bank’s assets rapidly decreased. Firstly one bank was brought down, then the next, and so on, causing a domino effect worldwide.
In late March of 2010, a month before the General Election, the consumer polls still had Labour slightly ahead of the Conservatives with the Liberal Democrats showing a poor third.
Despite the Conservatives laying all the blame of the present economic worries firmly anchored at Labour’s front door, they had made little gains in the polls. Dandelion expected the Conservatives to be much further ahead, but the Labour Government had responded very well to the crisis. They kept economic stimulus going, and, as a result, they had hung on to a lot of public support. Not enough support had gone to Blain, the leader of the Conservative Party, but in this Dandelion saw the opportunity.
He had on many occasions advised prime ministers how to influence public opinion, but now he could have people inside the government helping create policy: policy which benefitted him and his associates. With a new government came new ministers. These new ministers usually knew very little about what they were suddenly the minister of and then relied very heavily on their advisors, advisors he would have put in place, making almost anything possible. Getting the right information out to the right people was going to be the key.
In a meeting with David Blain he outlined his plan to put the Conservatives into power. Predominantly, this relied on getting their message across and to make sure they did, he would arrange for one of his editors to become the media advisor to Blain. He would then use his media outlets from press to TV news, to denounce the Labour policies of economic stimulus, claiming they were putting the country in huge debt and would very soon bankrupt it.
Dandelion delivered as promised and swung the election to the Conservatives, maybe not quite as much as he would have liked or had led Blain to believe. Blain had been forced, in the end, to form a coalition with the Liberal Democrats to gain the required majority.
It was now 18 months after the election and he had five senior advisors within the Conservative coalition government; there was the media secretary to the Prime Minister, senior advisors to the Treasury, Defence, National Health Service and the Ministry of Justice. Only the former was ever directly employed by him, the others, associates, he had picked up along the way but all were directly experienced in the areas of work of the departments they were now working in and all had agendas that complimented Dandelion’s.
He and his associates were now in a superb position, to influence both policy and appointment of contracts that resulted, making them vast amounts of money. Should that agenda be the privatisation of the National Health Service or the invasion of an oil-rich foreign nation, the amount of money spent on both the health service and military appropriation contracts was astronomical, and it was all there for the taking. He was beginning similar policies of interaction with other countries’ governments, all of which looked as though they would be just as fruitful. And next time no such compromises would be made.
Despite the annoyance of the coalition and his general dislike of the Liberal Democrats, in particular Richard Smeg, the leader of that party, he was still greatly amused whenever he saw footage of the Prime Minister in the House of Commons with that nodding dog of his deputy PM, Smeg, sitting next to him. His head would nod sagely at every comment of his lord and master and of course, would never utter a word himself.
Should he, he would be shouted off the floor by the Opposition who despised him for the opportunist he was. Dandelion didn’t know whether he despised Smeg more for taking the job, which everybody knew was purely reward for abandoning his electorate or less for at least having the balls to do it. But Smeg, that chinless wonder actually was beginning to look like the bulldogs they used to have in the back of cars nodding their heads back and forth.
Still despite everything he had achieved of late, the summons to the Commons rankled him; it had got so far under his skin as to make him physically itch. In reality he knew he had little to worry about. The spying operation had been shut down and physically removed from the building and there were no monetary trails leading back toward him. Jonathan and his team would not say a word to anybody. He knew they were planning to set up elsewhere, and he could still use them as necessary. It was therefore in their interests to keep quiet. The only others that knew what had been going on were his two Vice Presidents, and both knew where their bread was buttered.
In his opinion, the Robertson Inquiry was toothless. The editors called would just deny any knowledge of phone hacking at their paper, which would be disputed by victims and perhaps a few reporters. The net result would just end up with a situation where one said this and another that. No Proof. It was nothing more than a political manoeuvre. So the plan was to deny all knowledge, keep it limited to a rogue reporter and it would all blow over. But the audacity of having called him in to testify would be remembered, along with those who had done it.
They will pay for this, every one of them. That lot at the paper I’m going to fire tomorrow and the rest of them I will deal with later.
He didn’t stop to think that maybe he had got himself into this; he had supplied the critical information, equipment and a location for his surveillance group to capture almost any kind of electronic data and had benefited greatly from it.
“Sir would you like some more coffee?”
Disturbed from his thoughts by the stewardess, Dandelion noted that he already been in the air for over three hours.
What do you want? leave me alone can’t you see I’m busy?
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