Gavin Maclure's Musings

My take on politics locally, nationally and internationally


Politicians move to the bank of the Rubicon

A free press is paramount for our democracy

A free press is paramount for our democracy

The Liberal Democrats and Labour have forced David Cameron’s hand and moved the UK closer than ever before to State-controlled media.

A Royal Charter has been “agreed” between all three main parties to establish an independent regulator of the press and also blogs hosted in the United Kingdom. Unlike the Press Complaints Commission, it will be underpinned by law despite what the political parties will try and tell you.

This is because the Royal Charter will be fixed in stone unless two thirds of parliament (no easy feat) vote to revise the rules governing the new regulator.

The Royal Charter will allow the regulator to investigate newspapers and blogs, impose fines and issue directives to the press such as where to print an apology.

All in all this is a bad day for democracy in the UK. A free press needs to be just that: free. This does not mean it should operate above the law. Hacking mobile phones is already a criminal offence and prosecutions are ongoing: expect more prison sentences.

The only reason we are having this debate at all is because of a collection of Left-wing pressure groups, like Hacked Off, who have infiltrated Ed Miliband’s Labour Party, and who are ideological opposed to freedom and believe the State should control the masses, which first and foremost means getting hold of the media.

The fact Hacked Off welcomed the “cross-party” agreement this afternoon is very worrying and suggests they have had significant influence in drawing up the Lab-Lib Dem version of the Royal Charter.

It is also becoming clear David Cameron has been railroaded into accepting the terms of the Liberal Democrats and Labour despite promising there would be no “statutory underpinning”.

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Socialists try to impose State-controlled press in UK

A free press is paramount for our democracy

A free press is paramount for our democracy

Lord Leveson – part of the metropolitan elite – recommended “statutory underpinning” of the press is his multi-volume Report into Press Ethics.

In short, this means State-controlled press. As I wrote back when Leveson superciliously bounded on to the stage to introduce his report, this recommendation is an attack on our democracy: one of its core pillars is a free press.

So it is hardly surprising to see the Liberal (note the capital ‘L’ – very different from ‘liberal’) Democrats and the sixth-form shower of a political party, Labour, want to embrace Leveson’s recommendation for shackling the press with legislation. Socialists – and let’s be in no doubt the Lib Dems are socialists too – see nothing better than command and control from the centre and “statutory underpinning” is perfectly suited to that purpose.

David Cameron, for all the gripes I have about him (and they are many), is right to oppose Leveson’s recommendation. I think Mr Cameron actually gets democracy (and probably realises the game is up in 2015 as a result) but he will be damned if he is going to go down in history as the man who destroyed a core pillar of democracy in Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

This whole question of press ethics has and continues to be a farce. We have THE best, diverse and vibrant print and online media in the world. We have a Government that on the whole is scared to death of the public: precisely because of our superior journalism in our print and online media. I would far rather live in a country which splashes Max Mosley’s sexual habits across the front-page (despite me personally not giving two hoots what he gets up to in spare time, as long as it doesn’t harm anyone but himself!) than one where politicians can do as they please and threaten business-busting fines if a newspaper looks set to expose a corruption or hypocrisy amongst the powers that be in Westminster, devolved assemblies and town halls.

Because as soon as you take away a free press, the powerful who rule over us will take advantage, which is a slippery slope eventually to evil. And I don’t say this an exaggeration. Abuse of power by the powerful to detrimentally affect the lives of the masses would eventually occur once you remove one of the core pillars of democracy – that of the free press. We see this today in Zimbabwe and Russia. We saw it in the past in Argentina, where it led to kidnapping, torture and murder of tens of thousands of people. This is the end result of eroding democracy – be certain of this.

We learn today both the Prime Minister, Nick Clegg of the Yellow Peril and Labour’s pseudo-sixth former leader Ed Miliband all now want to lay down a Royal Charter establishing an independent self-regulatory body for the press. However, Labour want to go further and introduce legislation to shackle the press. I wholly disagree with this approach for the reasons I have outlined above. The showdown between the main political parties will take place on Monday in the House of Commons.

However, commentators don’t seen to be talking about the elephant in the room: legislation already exists to stop the wrongdoings of the press which led to the Leveson Inquiry being set up by David Cameron. It is already illegal in the UK for journalists to hack into mobile phones, it is already illegal for journalists to pay police officers for information, it is already illegal to defame someone’s character.

So, why are we wasting time setting up Royal Charters? All Lord Leveson did was succumb to hard-left pressure groups like Hacked Off and was wowed by celebrities like Hugh Grant and Steve Coogan who want the press to write about their films and comedy shows but only on their terms.

Yes, the News of World’s hacking into murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler’s mobile phone was horrific and that paper has rightly been closed down by its proprietor, Rupert Murdoch. But that behaviour by News International journalists was and is illegal. Prosecute the journalists. Send them to prison. But do not remove a pillar of our democracy as a sop to the Left, who dream of Communist states, where power is firmly held by the elite and the people are kept in their place and oppressed.


The Left want to abolish our free press

Envy of the world: British press
Why is anyone surprised the Liberal Democrats and the Labour Party want to bring in state regulation of the media in the UK? For my international friends who consume news which hasn’t been preoccupied with Hugh Grant’s case for privacy or Steve Coogan’s protestations about the press writing stories about his latest girlfriend, unless of course he is trying to sell comedy show tickets that is, our illustrious prime minister in an attempt to distract the public from his own cosy relationships with news editors and proprietors decided eighteen month ago to have a judge-led inquiry into media ethics.
Anti-free press: Lord Justice Leveson
Well the said inquiry has now reported. And low and behold a member of the liberal judiciary – Sir Brian Leveson – decided state regulation of the media would be a good idea. Just as I suppose it is a good idea in Zimbabwe, Syria and Russia? Hmmm.
The biggest cheerleaders for Lord Justice Leveson’s recommendation are the Left. Naturally. Don’t people realise the core ideology of both Labour and the Liberal Democrats is the suppression of the masses so they, the elite, can lord over them. Just like Stalin. Just like Hitler. Both men of the Left.  
Now, I wouldn’t go as far as to say Nick Clegg should be compared to mass killers of history: he wouldn’t be capable of such organisation and leadership. No, but Nick Clegg is a socialist, who loves to keep the masses in their place, feed them welfare benefits with a little note telling the poor beggars who to vote for if they want the handouts to keep on coming. Clegg is the same as Labour leader Ed Miliband except Miliband and his political father, Gordon Brown, didn’t even try to hide their sinister ideology.
So, it is quite natural for them to want to suppress the press: it is an extension of their command and control of the people. It will make it even easier to ensure the public hear only what the liberal elite want them to hear. It all helps to keep you and I in our place whilst the “politburo” gets on with the business of power.
As you will have gathered I am wholly against Leveson’s recommendation that a “independent” regulator is set up and is “underpinned” by legislation. That’s a fancy way of saying the state should control the media. What was the point of Britain going to war twice and bringing down communism if we now have idiot politicians agreeing with such a dangerous recommendation from a not so bright judge? Got to be a bit careful haven’t I? In a couple of years time writing the last sentence might get me thrown into prison!
Privacy on his terms: British actor Hugh Grant
This is the reality of the Leveson Report. Politicians who are in bed with those poor little celebrities who want to be able to use the press when they have a book to sell but want them to go away when they are getting up to immoral activities are being pressurised by these same people into shutting down the free press in this country, a press which has been free for hundreds of years. This is how far our political system has sunk.
It was good to see David Cameron say he was against state regulation of the media because only the Government can table legislation in the House of Commons. But he has his hands tied as he is in Coalition with a political party who came eighth in a Westminster election last week: the last Party that happened to was the SDP and they were wound up shortly afterwards. So, the Liberal Democrats who have crashed out of the political mainstream are going to be able to dictate the law of the land?
Worried: Can Cameron prevent state regulation of the media?
If Cameron lets these yellow peril pygmies ruin our democracy by removing one of its core pillars – a free press – we are no better than Syria or Zimbabwe. 
We are living in dangerous times. Only true leadership and a party which stands up for Britain will save us. Which party is this? Considering the Conservatives came behind Ukip at the Westminster by-election in Rotherham last week, the public are not so sure.


UPDATE: Ipswich Spy lets the local blogosphere down

Overnight Ipswich Spy has reacted to the complaints (here, here and here) levied at their editors for submitting a disgraceful article on Cllr John Carnall, which might be argued is libellous and defames his character and could lead to substantial damages awarded to the plaintiff under English Law if proven.

A retweet by me of an article by Politics Home’s Paul Waugh on a theoretical blogging complaints commission may have pricked the conscience of Ipswich Spy but more likely their fear for their financial future saw Ipswich Spy take the offending article down last night and replace it with a post on ‘Review of Standards’. They also submitted a new article which is a de facto apology (although not a direct apology to Cllr Carnall) for Tuesday’s article. The blog also says one or two of its spies/editors may have to ‘come out of the shadows’ to re-build their credibility. Ipswich Spy also say they may be posting less frequently in future, which I hope does not happen: despite their behaviour this week they are still a formidable political blog in Ipswich and I stand by their excellent coverage of the St Margeret’s ward by-election, which surpassed the Morning Evening Star by a wide margin.

Unfortunately for Ipswich Spy, the internet remembers everything and the article attacking Cllr John Carnall is still available on a Google caching server here.  We hope Ipswich Spy will offer a full apology to Cllr Carnall in due course.

On the issue of including online blogging in the same ball park as traditional print and broadcast media, I think this episode shows self-regulation works very well in the blogosphere because retorts, criticisms and complaints can be levelled immediately and in real-time – and in this case have patently led to positive action. I will blog in detail on potential blogging regulations as a result of the Leveson Inquiry another time but my initial view is existing laws and common sense is working quite well in the Ipswich political blogosphere at least.