“Our MPs are now limbering up for a post-Leveson era where their menaces matter. Where they can speak softly, while carrying a big stick. Where the journalist knows that the MPs can ratchet up press regulation any time they want: that we won’t like them when they’re angry. Right now, the British press is in the very lucky position of being unaffected by the flattery or threats of MPs. And its this hugely important principle which is now at stake. In America, this principle is enshrined in the constitution. In Britain, we’ve relied on a commitment to liberty being in the DNA of our elected representatives. Jeremy Paxman once compared the relationship between a journalist and a politician to that between a dog and a lamppost. The lamppost has had enough, an wants to strike back. That’s understandable. But it’s a shame that so many Tory MPs should share that urge.”
Writes Fraser Nelson, Spectator editor.
Given the current state of near-hysteria over the child sex abuse case surrounding the late Jimmy Savile and others, the recent MP expense excuse scandal and the case of newspapers having broken existing laws to hack phones, etc, we are now in a very dangerous situatiion where MPs from all parties have an incentive to try and licence the press and wider media, and secondly, that a large chunk of well-meaning but deluded members of the public apparently feel okay with such regulation, no matter how counterproductive or oppressive this might be.
These are depressing times to be a friend of liberty, but we need to try and take whatever wins we can on the way.