The British weekly “The New Statesman” is not known for its love of the Monarchy. Publishing an article In defence of Sarah Ferguson therefore comes as a surprise and as a double edged sword:
“So, the tabloid press run by the passionate anti-Monarchist Rupert Murdoch has returned to doing what it does best today, other than attacking Labour leaders, and exposed a pre-planned sting operation on a leading Royal, Sarah Ferguson, who apparently offered access to her husband Prince Andrew in exchange for cash.
"Friends of ‘Andrew’ are lining up to condemn her in a rather ugly fashion, with Digby Jones today branding her 'delusional'. And once more this rather insecure woman is under fire. Certainly, it doesn't look good. She will, it appears, to anything to dent her vast overdraft, and is clearly not uninterested in making money (the picture in the News of the World of her with ‘eyes lit up’ at a pile of cash is, indeed, troubling, though this does seem to be a case, given the unethical practices that made this story work, of ‘He who is without sin cast the first stone’). “
Prince Andrew's role
Prince Andrew, of course, works as an unpaid special representative for a British government trade and investment agency. As The Independent wrote:
“And when it comes to opening doors for UK business, it doesn't hurt that his mother is the Queen. When he is abroad, meeting ministers and officials, he drops that fact into conversations and his audience laps it up.
"He says that countries such as China, which used to be ruled by a royal family, respond to this particularly well. 'They haven't lost their historical perspective on how things are done, I suspect. They have an understanding.'
"Clearly, though, being the son of the Queen gets him access to foreign ministers and officials, particularly in countries in the Middle East and Asia where the Royal Family has a high standing. He can cajole, coax and charm. In October, Lord Levene, chairman of Lloyd's of London, wrote personally to the Duke to thank him for helping the reinsurance market in obtaining a licence to operate in China. The Duke had met the vice-mayor of Shanghai and raised the issue.
"The Doncaster-based furniture maker BLP also credits him with having helped in the lifting of unexpected tax duties on the new £35m factory it had built in China. Without his assistance, the firm could have gone bust.
"His efforts don't always work. But when they do, the Duke is anxious not to claim any credit for himself: 'I'm not the person delivering; a company delivers.' Taking the plaudits, where due, might spare him some flak - but then he doesn't seem too bothered what some people think."
Meanwhile in Victoria
To return to the moral outrage that the worldwide broadcasting of the videos taken secretly of the Duchess of York, it is not a bad idea to return to Australia, because here one letter to the editor of The Age put the perspectives right:
YOU can imagine John Brumby's eyes lighting up when he hears the going rate that Fergie charges for meeting someone influential.
After all, for a fee of $5,000 companies can buy exclusive, one-on-one sessions with Victoria’s Premier John Brumby and or some ministers. The Australian Labor Party’s fund-raising branch Progressive Business is organising these get-togethers for which Murdoch’s News of the World offered the Duchess money. While everybody pretends to be appalled by this act of encashment, hardly anyone in Victoria seems to be upset that access to the premier and his cabinet can be bought.
Progressive Business aims for gross receipts of $2,000,000 this year. The Age reported that "a $10,000 gold sponsorship of a table at a last year’s dinner earned coal industry executive Alan Bond a seat next to – and the chance to bend the ear of – Mr. Brumby." Anyone wondering why the dirtiest coal power stations in this country are operating in Victoria and why the environmentalists have no chance to see them shut down?
THAT’S the real scandal and not the fact that a broke former member of the Royal Family fell into a trap. But following up this scandal infers that the media would actually target the real culprits and not aim at the soft spot. It is not easy to name and shame political corruption, when the money that changes hands also finances newspaper and TV ads.
Of course the Duchess of York was wrong in allegedly accepting money and she did apologised unlike the Australian politicians who still refuse to recognise that they are doing anything wrong in accepting money to grant access. Selling access to the premier and cabinet ministers will go on – and in an election year probably accelerate.