By Stephen Mayne, unconfirmed candidate for the News Corp board

As Australia’s most unsuccessful candidate, there have been plenty
of interesting electoral opponents over the years but who would have
thought a tilt at the News Corp board would finish up as a contest with
the immediate past prime minister of Spain, Jose Maria Aznar?

October and November will be busy with the state election and
hopefully an uncontested run at a second term as president of the
local kinder. However, both campaigns will be interrupted when I’ll put
out the following statement – “Excuse me folks, just got to pop over to
New York to contest an election with the man who took Spain into the
Coalition of the Willing for a seat on the board of the world’s most
powerful media empire. Can someone else hand out a few flyers to the
kinder mums until I’m back?”

The Guardian
was as surprised as anyone at the appointment because Rupert seems to
be rewarding one of America’s few friends over the Iraq war. And with
Fox News operative Tony Snow taking over as Dubya’s official spokesman,
the links seem to be getting closer. After all, who can forget Tory campaign director Lynton Crosby claiming last year that The Sun backed Tony Blair last year because Rupert wanted to reward his support of the Iraq war.

What does this mean John Howard can expect from Rupert in the
years? We all know the editorial support will be strong in 2007, but
what about
a seat on the News Corp board? Perhaps the Coalition of the Willing
could be recreated at News Corp HQ on the Avenue of the Americas as
Rupert has given the vanquished Spanish PM a helping hand and Blair,
Bush and Howard will all presumably be
gone within three years.

Rupert himself won’t be facing his first News Corp election ever until
2007 but the slate of directors up for renewal at the October AGM in
New York include Lachlan Murdoch, Arthur Siskind, John Thornton and Tom
Perkins. It will be interesting to see how Aznar and Mayne fit into the
election process, because Rupert, who claims to want to spread
democracy around the world, completely rorted the election by censoring
my platform last time.

Aznar may attract some opposition from News Corp shareholders because
his commercial experience is questionable and the board is already
stacked with Rupert’s mates and right wing ideologues such as Viet
Dinh, the lawyer who wrote The Patriot Act for the Bush administration.
Then again, the link between politics and business is much tighter in
the US – Dick Cheney is a former CEO of Halliburton and Condi Rice made
her name at Chevron.

If only former Australian politicians could crack a few high
boards. The only one to have broken through is Nick Greiner, who
currently chairs Bradken and is a director of Stockland, QBE Insurance
and McGuigan Simeon Wines. Maybe John Howard’s News Corp gig will break
the mould.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey