Thursday, 29 November 2012

Leveson: Vole's Initial Reckon

OK, here's the Leveson points reduced from 2000 pages and four volumes to a few words:
It's 'essential' that an independent press regulation should be set up by law. They've failed to regulate themselves and lives have been wrecked because they're often self-serving and amoral.
The Metropolitan Police have behaved very badly indeed.  
And here's the political response.

David Cameron: Nice idea, but it's too complicated, it wouldn't work and any laws relating to the press are wrong on principle. And Jeremy Hunt is as honest as the day is long. I've never heard of, let alone met, Rebekah Brooks or Rupert Murdoch. 
Ed Miliband: passing a law setting up independent press regulation isn't state regulation. The press have failed, let's implement a Leveson law. 

Watching the parliamentary debate about the Leveson Report is a disgusting experience. Tory after Tory has stood up to agree with Cameron that politicians have always guaranteed a free press, which is just plain wrong - as I explain here. They queue up to praise Jeremy Hunt and they bay like seals in heat as they make petty partisan points.

The basic strategy is to sound pompously in favour of the free press while making sure that they don't do anything about it. Most sinister is the assumption that the 'freedom of the press' is the same thing as 'the freedom of the press and its owners to behave exactly as it wishes'. Meanwhile the cosy little parliamentary coterie bay like walruses in heat whenever their friends reinforce their deluded and detached world-view.

Cameron's opted for a high-wire act: all the soundbites which will make the evening news will make it sound like he's going to do something urgently from the highest principles. He keeps saying things like But the small print, carefully expressed in language tailored only for nerds and obsessives, reveals that is plan is completely the opposite: he intends to do absolutely nothing.

I'm really sad. I don't think the Leveson Report is particularly radical, but within one hour of publication it's become a weapon in the usual political sniping - and it's clearly destined for the long grass. The result? The papers will go back to business as usual and we'll all be back here again in 15 years.

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