I turn on the radio to hear yet another well-meaning journalist explaining how poor Lord Lev just didn’t quite get it and how dear Dave is absolutely right to resist statutory regulation. Hacked Off have been over at number ten and they’re not happy with what they’ve been told. They clearly don’t understand, poor civilians that they are.
It makes me want to gag.
It seems a shame to have to repeat the obvious yet again, but while members of the fourth estate are still spewing this nonsense, it needs to be corrected.
Lord Leveson didn’t propose statutory regulation. He proposed self-regulation to be protected by statute. So if you hear someone self-servingly raging against Lev’s proposals for statutory regulation, just put your fingers in your ears and hum. Or tell them that the press need proper regulation to stop them selling chemical weapons through the classifieds, because there’s no less truth in that.
Readers may recall Harry Enfield’s “L is for Labour. L is for Lice” sketch. Very funny it was, too. Just make up something about your opponents. That’s what’s happened here. And because, for once, the press feel like they’re being attacked en masse, they’re speaking with one forked tongue in response. L isn’t for Lice. Lord Leveson didn’t propose statutory regulation.
The other line we hear is the “slippery slope” one, as in any form of statutory involvement could be the start of a slippery slope that ends with a future, undefined, menacing government becoming directly involved in regulation and enacting laws that truly fetter the press.
Once again, I want to gag.
There is no slippery slope, of course. It’s drivel. Even in the barely-controlled mania of Prime Minister’s Questions it would take a brave or stupid MP to adduce such an argument – with respect to any piece of legislation at all – and keep a straight face.
“Is the honourable gentleman not concerned that granting marriage rights to homosexuals will eventually lead to marriage being lawful between wolves and lambs?”
“Does the honourable gentleman acknowledge that these investigations into high mortality rates can only end in Jeremy Hunt performing open heart surgery himself?”
“Can the honourable gentleman not see that increased oversight of the banking sector can only end in my constituents being required to obtain the Chancellor’s signature every time they wish to use an ATM?”
Let’s be clear on this. They’re not even objecting to the law Leveson proposed. They’re objecting to an entirely different law that nobody has even suggested.
And if some future government of the United Kingdom wanted to enact such a law, does anyone really believe for a moment they’d be held back by the lack of a half-hearted cop-out like the one that was proposed by m’Lud?