Media magnate Rupert Murdoch called on Thursday for Britain's coalition government to press ahead with deep cuts in public spending, saying the financial crisis should not lead to an assault on economic liberalism.
Delivering a lecture in honor of Margaret Thatcher, the News Corp chief executive exhorted the government to follow the example set by the former British prime minister to ensure British businesses could compete on the global stage.
His lecture came a day after the coalition government, made up of Prime Minister David Cameron's centre-right Conservatives and centrist Liberal Democrats, announced 81 billion pounds of spending cuts to address a budget deficit of 11 percent of GDP. "So, like the lady, the coalition must not be for turning," Murdoch said, echoing a famous speech made by Thatcher who led Britain for 11 years from 1979.
"The financial crisis was a shock to the system. While the effects linger, it must not be used as an excuse by governments to roll back economic freedom."
Thatcher, unable to attend the event herself as she was in hospital after a bout of flu, advocated free market policies, private enterprise, thrift and self-reliance.
But her tough economic policies alienated many.
Cameron's government is banking on a private sector recovery to make up for public sector cutbacks and Murdoch said he was encouraged by its response so far to the budget deficit.
"Many rightly applaud the coalition government for maintaining a tough fiscal line. We must be clear why this toughness is necessary," he said.
"It is about livelihoods, and eventually rebuilding opportunities and greatness. Strong medicine is bitter and difficult to swallow. But unless you stay the political course, you will be neither robust nor popular."
Britain's top-selling daily Sun newspaper, owned by News Corp, switched support to the Conservatives last year ahead of May's election after backing Labour since 1997.
Murdoch said the current government needed to emulate Thatcher's views on individual freedom and responsibility even if they proved unpopular.
"In the short term, a government that is generous with other people's money — and prints more of its own — dangles the promise of a comfortable life, where all the essentials are taken care of," he said.
"We are again learning, the hard way, that this is a false security. The only real security is the security of opportunity."
Murdoch vowed his news organizations would remain "hard-driving and questioning of authority".
His comments came after reports last month that journalists on Britain's News of the World newspaper, part of the News Corp empire, had engaged in illegal eavesdropping.
"Often, I have cause to celebrate editorial endeavour. Occasionally, I have had cause for regret," he said.
"Let me be clear: We will vigorously pursue the truth — and we will not tolerate wrongdoing."
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