Monday, 18 March 2013

A bad day for Britain - press regulation and the attack on democracy

The attack on press freedom today, that stems from the stitch up by the three party leaders over night, has forced me to reactivate this blog for one day only. David Cameron's boast that the deal doesn't involve a statutory underpinning is pure guff.
Hiding behind the changes to new Royal Charters can't disguise the damage dealt to a cornerstone of British democracy, which had been 300 years in the making. The abuses by newspapers needed to be addressed vigorously but not at the cost of allowing politicians power to tinker with newspapers.
Introducing a clause that the press regulation Royal Charter cannot be changed in the future without a two-thirds majority counts for nothing. Near enough 100 per cent of the Commons - in the shape of the unholy alliance of Cameron, Miliband, and Clegg have forced through today's proposals, while Tony Blair's Labour victory in 1997 did garner around two-thirds of seats. In any case future parliaments will be free to change the rules as they wish.
We're witnessing payback time by parliamentarians, who have never forgiven newspapers being dragged through the mud by the exposure of their expenses fiddles. The victims of press abuse have been exploited by a conspiracy of vested interests both inside the Commons and out. If the police had been doing its job it could have nipped phone hacking in the bud and Milly Dowler's tragic parents would have been spared suffering beyond that of the loss of their daughter.
This is only the start. Lord Justice Leveson had a unique opportunity to reform the press - and did arrive at many sensible recommendations - but in doing so he has also given oxygen to the enemies of democracy. So it's newspapers today, internet bloggers tomorrow although to give Leveson his due he advised giving online media a wide berth.