Tuesday, 4 December 2012
Libdems must be firm over Leveson
Much like the Libdems in Coalition. We're constantly, or at least portrayed as, constantly falling back to "the final line" and giving up another pledge or stand point. It has to stop.
To quote Captain Picard; The line must be drawn here and no further with the Leveson inquiry.
Now, I know I've not read the full 2000 page report, I barely have time to read my kids a bedtime story or the copy of Darth Plagius that I bought myself for Christmas last year!
The point is, most people won't have read it but there has been plenty of debate, news reports and discussion. From all of these, I have come up with my opinion - hardly blindly following party line- and some how I have come out agreeing with Nick's statement last week.
There is a fine balance of liberties in this case and a statutory under pinning of the press, namely legislating tighter controls and redrawing the boundaries and enforcing the laws. However once that is done the Government will take a step back and a new, more powerful independent standards agency will police how the press carry out their trade.
Sound's pretty Stalinist as if the State is policing the freedom of the press and speech. However it isn't.
Tightening the press's standards will protect the liberties and the freedoms of people like you and me as well as celebrities. Look at the McCann's or Dowler's - even the families or friends of celebrities in the manner that Charlotte Church documented last week who have had their privacy severely violated on the off chance there may be a story.
This cannot be allowed to continue. The press has been carrying on like a secret police force which is illiberal.
We, as a party, find ourselves at serious odds with our Coalition partners. Maintaining this status quo and trusting that the press have learnt their lesson is just not good enough. A lot of Conservatives feel that it is.
I believe in the freedom of the press. It has worked for the last 300 years and it is important to democracy says one of our local MPs Tracey Crouch and to the probable shock and awe of regular readers, I disagree with her on this.
Yes, a free press is exceptionally important as a voice and whistle blower on the way Government carries on it's business but the press isn't free due to to the monopolies and vested interests.I'd also argue that the free press (ignoring the war years where Government control and censorship were a necessity) worked for 280 years and it has been the last twenty that have seen the press becoming more and more invasive and above the law.
Tracey went on to say At the end of the day it's about principles. Misuse of phone hacking is illegal and should be dealt with by the law, which should be tightened up. - I agree with what she says but we have differing ideas on the implementation.
Moving back to the main thrust of the post; Nick needs to stand by this principle, lead the party in a stand on this.
Not for populist point scoring, though I'm sure we could be painted as that, but because it is what we stand for and stand we must.
There is nothing in the Coalition agreement on this so we're not tied to the Conservatives on this one. Any falling back should only be as part of the cross party negotiations and legislation.
If we falter on this and back down on our guiding principles we might as hand the keys of Great George Street to Nigel Farage and UKIP and just go home.
Nick, be strong, be resolute and stand your ground on this.