Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Commons Debate on Leveson

Watching a lot of the debate yesterday was fascinating but also disturbing. There had clearly been an 11th hour deal struck between the three main parties at Westminster. Many contributors paid respect to the hard work and diligence of the teams representing each party who had striven hard into the night to reach a compromise from which each could claim a sort of victory. 

Whenever the House of Commons acts quickly to legislate or approve a course of action such as sending troops to Afghanistan it invariably gets it wrong. For example the Dangerous Dogs Act was rushed through at the behest of tabloid hysteria and has proved to be virtually unworkable. 

As one speaker pointed out halfway through the proceedings, they did not know what the final draft on which they were to vote on looked like, as it was still being written. Not good. 
A significant omission is the lack of anything about tweeting, blogging, facebook or similar internet activities in the regulations. After taking all of this time since Leveson published his report last November, another couple of days spent getting the wording right would not have gone amiss. 

In that time there has been much activity. There have been several off-the-record meetings between Cameron and a group of editors. Who knows what has been happening behind the scenes with the proprietors? One of the biggest problems with our politics has been the undue influence of powerful scum like Murdoch and his attack dogs. The way the old scrote continues to carry on anyone would think he was as innocent as the day is long. Slimeballs such as Boris Johnson and Michael Gove still openly enjoy dinner with him. 

‘Hacked Off’ profess themselves pleased with the outcome, which is a positive; while a significant group of newspapers are not, which is a problem. Among them are such luminaries as the Barclay brothers who want to run ‘their’ Channel Island as a personal fiefdom, ‘Dirty Desmond’ who made his fortune with porn channels and now runs the Express and Star (and Channel 5) , Paul ‘expletive deleted’ Dacre is not happy and neither, surprise, surprise, are the old scrote’s group. 

This follows on from the Sun having a front page yesterday that beggared belief. They invoked Churchill and his trenchant views on the freedom of the press on the same day they paid a Labour MP £50,000 for using material from her stolen phone. 

Only the editor of the Independent, Chris Blackhurst, has come out and said that the outcome was what he expected. He did not have a problem with a key issue - that of putting an apology when the paper had a story wrong - in the same place it appeared - even if that was the front page. This is a sticking point for some of the press.

Years ago the Mail ran a front page story claiming that because ambulance drivers were taking industrial action, some unfortunate had died. This was in blazing headlines, on the front page and named the ‘guilty’ men. Several days later, in a tiny paragraph tucked away deep within the paper was an apology. The story had been bollocks.

The damage done to ordinary mortals who do not inhabit the elite bubble of celebs and politicians is profound and is something which has needed redressing for years. 

Do not hold your breath. Cameron has probably had several interesting conversations this morning.....off the record.

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