Over the course of almost a year now we have sought
to uncover where the real power lies in our country.
After many hours of research, discussion and of course interviewing an impressive list of names, while certainly shedding light on the British landscape ofpower, the answer to the big question ‘Who runs this place?’ remains for me an elusive one.
The answers have certainly not been short in coming. Angela Knight for instance, representing the banks, was adamant that power fundamentally lies in Westminster. The business world seemed to share this view, reminding us that, after all, the Houses of Parliament is still where laws are made. Straight forward enough.
But the politicians themselves did not seem to be aware of the great powers at their disposal. Jon Cruddas’s overall tone as an MP was one of frustration, feeling caught in an arm lock. Other MPs seem obliged to ignore their voters, the recent Lib Dem student fee fiasco highlighting MPs tendency to serve government at the expense of the public.
If parliament appears somewhat insignificant and unaccountable, the new coalition has shown government’s prevailing stronghold, their drastic cuts sure to alter many lives. So who does the government serve? Increasingly dependent on private investment and party donations, the answer is often simply anyone making money.
Our many visits to the City have shown where the moneymakers reside. Huge international banks dominate the skyline and intimidating corporations seem to be monopolising the world. Our interviews often included a question along the lines of ‘are banks too big to fail?’ The recent public bailout of the banks and prior and present governments hesitance to clamp down on excessive bank bonuses and corrupt incremental tax provide a clear answer.
John Hilary from War on Want mentioned this alliance between capital and the state. Values of public interest often end up eroded at the expense of the market, the mysterious international face so alien to the ordinary person. It seems that anyone able to master this international market will master the politicians.
But make no mistake this is ‘anyone’ with a small a. Many figures we interviewed were sure that barriers to success have largely broken over the decades; while this may be the case to some extent, Britain still has one of the most entrenched class systems in Europe. The idea of an ‘open club’ looses credibility when the majority of its members went to the same schools and universities.
The ruling powers, if a colour, would be the colour of money. The elite are held together less by a recognition of public service than by their desire for personal enrichment. As the Chairmen of the Royal Bank of Scotland so nicely put it, ‘greed is an ugly word’.
I have had a great experience from the beginning and enjoyed the whole process. I have never really been a academnic type of girl i was the type who just wasn’t into education but this whole process has opened up my eyes to see that it’s not about your education background or which university you are heading for. I have realised its about your personality and your ambition.
My first interview was with angela knight CEO of the BBA and i was full of excitement for this one as i was able to really
question and interrogate this was a fun interview i was passionate about coming from a working class family i felt like it
was me who was going to suffer in the future for the banks mistakes so i really enjoyed this one. Working with the team
was great and everyone was so friendly and open minded. I did feel a little out of place at first when everyone was so intelligent asking questions i had no clue about etc whats going on with the conservatives’ and who done this. But once i got chatting to them i realised they wasn’t going to judge me for my knowledge but for me.
I found this short project so constructive and a great opportunity for young people i really did appreciate what billy and his team had got together for us.
After the production the investigators recorded their experiences.
We asked JON SNOW to judge the three best. Here they are - the first and the two runners up. PRIZES for the winners.
Who runs this place? Well it certainly isn’t the queen.
‘Twas a project that took six eventful months of shooting,
led to nasty revelations, face to face confrontations with
the most powerful women and men in the UK, run-ins with Transport for London, leading to a fine and resulting in our holding up one of the richestmen in Britain for over half and hour. Happy days.
However, the biggest shocker of all was to find out in our very first session that one man was in control of over 1/3 of the world’s media and entertainment, and that one man is the CEO of, wait for it, two publishing companies, twenty eight magazines, seventeen Fox TV studios, six broadcasting companies and ten satellite stations; to name a few.
Who is this media mogul you may rightfully ask? The name is Murdoch. Rupert Murdoch.
So the next logical question would be, ‘how on earth is that possible?’ Well a team of passionate, inquisitive, budding 16-18 year olds, sat in some of the most important executive boardrooms and walked in the most powerful establishment in the UK; being involved in crucial, momentous, emotional, grilling, revolutionary interviews.
Being a member of the group, I think it’s fair to say that not only did we ‘crack it’, we came to find that ‘greed is an ugly word’ that the ‘loonies have taken over the asylum’, and Alan Yentob’s response to James Murdoch - ‘a load of tosh!’ as he so politely put it.
Those were some of the highlights of a legendary project.
In all seriousness, the project has shaped my outlook on life, our world and the people inside it. I’m immensely grateful for the opportunity to swim in the dangerous waters of the rich and powerful – and find out exactly who makes the decisions, how crucial family connexions are and the barriers, and my role in the narrow ruthless hierarchy that exists in our society. Contrary to popular belief, it isn’t just the government that runs the place, but a group of people, all from the same social, educational background; and to an extent the media has such a vital role in the way our opinions, choices and understanding are shaped and formulated.
Finally, something that will always continue to run the place, some say it’s a curse, others say it’s a blessing. Money. It has blinded and deceived so many and caused great harm recently. But its role has always been crucial. And six months has taught me never to underestimate it.