The Way I See It #34

This week the Coalition government stumbled to an agreement on press regulation, apparently over takeaway pizza, coffee and Kit-Kats. “A Royal Charter” they cooed in delight while snapping the two-fingered delight in half. Disgraceful!

A free press is an absolute must for a working democracy and state interference is an unequivocal no-no. It has to be said that there has been some severe, distressing and downright distasteful acts committed by certain aspects of the British press. The phone-hacking scandal

which led to Lord Leveson’s enquiry was indeed an appalling affair. No one can condone the behaviour of anyone’s involvement in the scandal. The damage caused to already heartbroken families such the Dowlers and the McCanns was deplorable.

Royal Charter or not, this is a scenario which would have played out either way. Just like our government did with the Iraq war, they are trying to pull the wool over our eyes. This time the smokescreen isn’t non-existent weapons of mass destruction, however. No, this time our elected representatives at the round table are being far sneakier and a touch more intelligent. This time the phone-hacking scandal and the plight of its victims is being used to blind the public. The government thinks that because a small proportion of the British press behaved in a highly inappropriate manner, the entire industry should be regulated by the state. I’m sorry but this is unacceptable.

If a few pupils in a classroom misbehave, does the entire class receive detention?

The hacking scandal is a criminal matter and those involved are being prosecuted and brought to justice. Decent journalists, of which there are many, vehemently oppose the practices used by their counterparts which brought shame on the industry. Let’s not forget it was the determination and hard work of outstanding investigative journalism that brought the entire scandal to light.

The battle for a free press has waged 500 hundred years, and it would be highly offensive to history if a basic human right was eradicated due to a few squiggles with a pen. Britain already languishes at 16th in the world audit for press freedom table. Which suggests that press freedom isn’t as complete and open as our government claims. Sure we may not be subjected to the type of propaganda Nazism which swept through Germany during World War Two, but there are already many statutes which encroach upon press freedom in Britain. Further enhancing this by putting the press industry in the hands of the Privy Council and under an aspect of political control is a step back to more authoritarian times. With the state regulating the press, who would be left to hold those in power to account?

Britain prides itself on its democracy, yet Prime Minister David Cameron and company have endangered democracy itself. Firstly by undermining the efforts and hard work of journalists and the people who have fought for 500 years to ensure press freedom. Secondly, by imposing the strictest system of press regulation in the western world upon the British press. Trust between the public and politicians is already extensively strained, and this aim to suppress the newspapers and safeguard themselves can only intensify this distrust.

Thank God for the internet, I doubt the powers-that-be will conquer that!