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Wednesday, 01 October 2014

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Free press is now a political football

IT should have been relatively simple – relatively being the operative word.

EM Anne Pickles
Anne Pickles

Crime and punishment usually is that way. You break the law, you’re named, shamed and you pay the price.When a gang of housebreakers is caught operating at night, the gang members are locked up. New law isn’t drawn up to keep the entire population indoors after dark.

So why then, when a handful of reporters are exposed as phone-hackers, sneak thieves, dupers, bribers and corrupters, should new law be introduced to deprive the entire population of its right to freedom of information?

Others with more intense political agendas and motivations will answer that. They’re doing so now, in a frenzied – bordering on hysterical – race to respond to Lord Justice Leveson’s report on press ethics.

There’s another operative word – ethics. Not criminality, because criminality should be dealt with by the police – and perhaps would have been had not some key police officers been involved in the criminality.

Culture and ethics was Lord Leveson’s brief, even though his inquiry was triggered by appalling and abhorrent crimes – exposed, incidentally, by disgusted journalists in an outraged free press.

The Leveson ball has been thrown into the politicians’ court now and this is where the grubby stuff really starts. The judge recommended beefed-up independent regulation of press culture, practices and ethics – underpinned by new law to hold the regulators to politically defined account.

My, how that set the usual salivating suspects into overdrive. David Cameron didn’t like it. Law would curb the press freedom this country has prized for more than 300 years, he said. New law wasn’t needed and would be loaded with danger.

Ed Miliband couldn’t wait to get his hands on it. He quite fancied a grip on the people’s mouthpiece. But as opposition leader, that’s his job. He opposes. And Nick Clegg, Cameron’s coalition partner, has manoeuvred himself into a predictable bargaining position for later, when the heat is on. You give me a bit of yours and I’ll give you some of mine. You scratch my back or I’ll stab yours.

Already we’re seeing how a free press – enshrined in Britain’s democracy for centuries – is being kicked around for political advantage. And they say we have nothing to fear?

Have your say

I can sort of understand why the press are dissecting their own mis-deeds so closely but there are far bigger issues worth looking into such as smart metering water, power and gas and the governments latest attempt to 'come out' as the Stasi masquerading as May's 'think of the children' plea and the equally absurd 'our water supplies are under attack from unknown foreign countries' both of which are arguments she and her ilk are using to try and force their snooping charter on each and every one of us who makes a phone call or uses the internet in any way... shape... or form.

Naturally there is the EU angle to both the smart meters and the internet overlord plan but that too is buried under a blizzard of stories about a very expensive report into naughty journalists.

Free press?
Bad joke. There is clearly no such thing.

Posted by Tony on 4 December 2012 at 21:31

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