This year’s MacTaggart Lecture at the Edinburgh Television Festival was given by Dorothy Byrne and it is brilliant – sharp, incisive, important and very funny. It is a must-read for anyone interested in media, politics, the lack of democratic accountability enjoyed by both the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition (to say nothing of ‘unelected bureaucrats’ such as Dominic Cummings).

Compare the utter lack of scrutiny or accountability by Boris Johnson – to Parliament, let alone the media – with Macron’s two and a half hour press conference yesterday. Jeremy Corbyn’s absence also gets a serious dig. This is not about political sympathies or partisan claims; rather, it is about democracy, accountability, integrity and the culture we are creating … and the important role of the media in exposing dishonesty, lying, misrepresentation and obfuscation.

Even if you don’t agree with Byrne, it is a romp of a read.

The highlight of the annual Edinburgh International Television Festival is almost always the MacTaggart Memorial Lecture. The 2015 lecture was delivered by Armando Iannucci, (as far as I can see) the first 'creative' to have done so for over a decade apart from Kevin Spacey.

This matters. At a time when the BBC is under review – and anyone who cares about it ought to submit a response to the current survey here – Iannucci offers a spirited defence of its uniqueness. Which other country in the world would, as a matter of principle, argue for making its leading world brand a little bit worse by cutting bits off it? There is something peculiarly British about our willingness to pull down anything that has been built up.

So, the timely, important and entertaining lecture can be read here.

Interesting comment can be read here and here. The Sandford St Martin Trust (which I chair) has further links and some useful related material here.

Debate needs to be joined, particularly by those who wish to see the BBC developed and not diminished. And I say that as one who is constantly argues with and about the BBC, especially about religious illiteracy and a certain liberal myopia.

It is worth adding that suspicions about the ideological prejudices of the new Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport are, to my mind, premature. John Whittingdale's responsibility as chair of the Select Committee in the previous regime was precisely to be a Rottweiler and push the hard challenges. He did that well. Now is a different game. We'll see what emerges as the Charter renewal process proceeds.

Back from holiday on Arran, we finished off with a night in Liverpool and the Liverpool vs Manchester City game at Anfield this afternoon. Holidays are disorientating. My mind goes all over the place. I managed to read four novels in the week, but spent most time playing with my two year old grandson whose speech grew enormously. You can almost see the synapses joining up in the brain as he puts language together with self-consciousness.

But, that's all incidental. My mind has been, as I said, all over the place. The novels – all by Patrick Gale – made me think about family, church, ethics, storytelling, humanity, God and other interesting stuff. But, it was someone else whose words teased my imagination and made me muse on church, football and leadership. I haven't had time yet to read the full text of Elisabeth Murdoch's MacTaggart Lecture at the Edinburgh Television Festival at the end of last week, but one paragraph near the beginning did grab my attention:

A great creative organisation is like any successful community; it's a place of honesty, integrity, and an environment where curiosity and enthusiasm are the norm. It's a place that demands personal accountability, collective responsibility and true self-determination. It's a place where opportunity doesn't have to wait for a board meeting; a place that stimulates self-expression and encourages collaborative endeavour.

Here she is speaking about the culture of an independent creative media business. But, I wondered if the same could be said about the church – even if only thinking ideally. Even though people in the church are always complaining that if we were more like a business we would do things better, I also have experience of business and the rhetoric in business is not always matched by the reality.

But, whereas honesty and integrity should be fundamental to a church community, 'an environment where curiosity and enthusiasm are the norm' sounds strange. Yet – and I have often argued for this – curiosity is the 'key to the Kingdom' and something Jesus seemed always to be wanting to stimulate. If you don't believe me, just read the parables and use your imagination.

Perhaps if the church were characterised more by curiosity and enthusiasm (for its core purpose – as Murdoch seems to go on to suggest) it might become a more attractive and less intensely conflicted body. It might also bring into sharper relief the importance of 'personal accountability, collective responsibility and true self-determination', understood theologically as the purposeful driving motivators of those who claim any sort of allegiance to the church. Purpose puts conflict in its rightful place – which is not at the forefront of every conversation.

Move on from this to Anfield this afternoon. I know: this is weird.

I am always deeply moved to see, hear and join in with over 50,000 people singing 'You'll never walk alone'. I grew up with it. I don't often get to see Liverpool play these days, but when I do I get choked as the music starts when the teams come out. Why?

I have sometimes heard it said that if church were more like a football match more people would come. There is a common purpose (but also a common enemy – the opposition); there is a communal anthem (but not everybody joins in); the participatory event lasts for a limited time and the rules are clear (but some people, having paid a fortune to be there, still behave like morons); there is a measurable outcome at the end. So far, so good.

But, there are also loads of people who couldn't run down the garden path who scream indignantly, offering their advice to the athletes on the pitch and criticising their competence, credibility, intelligence, fitness for the job and parenthood. I heard one woman say she was bored with the match – despite it being fast, creative, draining on the nerves and frequently exciting. In other words, perhaps the footie experience is a bit like church in that the 'worship' brings together a broad range of people around a single event, allows expression of a wide range of emotional responses to what is being witnessed, is necessarily participatory, involves a shed load of activity aimed at claiming allegiance and commitment (financial as well as time and emotion), and makes space for whiners, moaners, hypocrites, the hard-to-please and the self-righteously arrogant. As well, of course, as the gloriously optimistic, the blindly proud, the wonderfully realistic and the hopefully celebratory.

I'm not staking my life on this stuff. I just thought about it on the way back from Liverpool to Bradford. I love Liverpool, I love the media, I love business, and I really love the church. No illusions about any of them and loads of fantasies about all of them. But, ultimately, I just love the fact that all of them involve real people with real lives, real contradictions, real glories and real stories. And – this might sound a bit obvious – I love the fact that when thinking about the church particularly, I refer to a narrative that presents a warts-and-all picture of a broad community of real people whose curiosity has been teased and who, despite all the other stuff, can't help being grasped by the wonder of it all or the enthusiasm of purpose which it excites.

(And Liverpool should have taken all three points. Scrappy defending for Man City's first goal and a terrible back pass for their second allowed a draw. But, Liverpool's passing game is getting better – and I would be more optimistic for Liverpool's season than City's on the evidence of today's game.)

Having avoided the Notting Hill Carnival on a hot London day – by visiting the Richard Long exhibition at Tate Britain –  I thought my questioning the worldview and values of James Murdoch might have lost some of its heat. (I have a theory that deserves a PhD thesis on whether the Reformation could ever have happened in southern Europe – or anywhere where people spend more time outside in the warm sun than in cold buildings where their tempers can get frayed.) And I thought a day in the sun might make me feel less cross about Murdoch. It didn’t work. I now feel even more perturbed.

The Guardian has superb coverage of the Edinburgh Television Festival. James Robinson and Maggie Brown report that Murdoch’s speech seemed to be reasonably undisturbing to many of the audience as he delivered it. There seems to be a consensus building that even if Murdoch’s remedy is mad, he is right in stating that the media systems need some serious overhauling in the new digital age. In fact, Robinson and Brown regret that Murdoch didn’t really suggest anything positive by way of better regulation, but merely fired a few bullets at regulation per se.

Well, let’s look at Murdoch’s conclusion:

James MurdochAbove all we must have genuine independence in news media. Genuine independence is a rare thing. No amount of governance in the form of committees, regulators, trusts or advisory bodies is truly sufficient as a guarantor of independence. In fact, they curb speech. On the contrary, independence is characterised by the absence of the apparatus of supervision and dependency. Independence of faction, industrial or political. Independence of subsidy, gift and patronage. Independence is sustained by true accountability – the accountability owed to customers. People who buy the newspapers, open the application, decide to take out the television subscription – people who deliberately and willingly choose a service which they value. And people value honest, fearless, and above all independent news coverage that challenges the consensus.

There is an inescapable conclusion that we must reach if we are to have a better society. The only reliable, durable, and perpetual guarantor of independence is profit.

So, there we have it. But I simply pose a few questions:

1. Does ‘independence’ really mean the same as ‘unaccountable’ or ‘irresponsible’ (in the sense of having no obligations to anyone other than those who buy your product)?

2. Will Murdoch now explain why, if ‘subsidy’ is anathema to the independence he craves, cross subsidy between the various elements of News Corporation (with the anti-competitive and ultimately destructive price-slashing tactics of News International’s UK newspapers in the 1980-90s) has been used as a tool to try to eliminate competition?

3. Since when has the Murdoch empire rewarded anyone who challenged their own ‘consensus’? Would someone look at how Sky saw off its competitors?

4. A ‘better society’ is defined in terms of finance, profitability and prizes for the ‘winners’? No mention of anything to do with truth, art, substance or humanity?

You don’t have to love the mixed economy of private and public media in Britain to loathe the amoral pragmatism of Murdoch’s empire. God forbid we should follow Murdoch Junior’s lead and end up with a media like that of the USA.