29 Nov 2012

First round in political fight over Leveson

David Cameron has set himself against any law change on press regulation. Labour is mocking this as a “lock-in” at the “last chance saloon.” Ed Miliband says there must be a vote by the end of Janurary 2013 on the Leveson proposals but he knows it’ll be difficult to pass a law in the teeth of prime ministerial opposition.

David Cameron says the sort of neat, small law Lord Justice Leveson thinks he’s proposing could quickly expand into something much bigger and he suggested Lord Justice Leveson might have over-looked another problem with appointing Ofcom to licence the press regulator, namely that a government secretary of state appoints the head of Ofcom.

Ed Miliband quoted the PM’s own words back to him about how any re-think on the media should pass the test of satisfying the Dowlers. Mr Cameron now nervously awaits their judgement on his instant judgement that Leveson goes too far. Ed Miliband obviously feels he can score some points against David Cameron as he said the question of implementing Leveson went to the heart of our national “character.”

David Cameron looked up at Nick Clegg throughout the latter’s statement to the House with a gooey respectfulness rarely seen since Nancy Reagan used to look doe-eyed upon her husband, the president.

He nodded, when the arguments permitted. It was all meant to remind any doubters that the coalition continues as usual, it just happens to have two different stated ways forward on what it thinks is a central matter of politics and our national life. He raised his own doubts about some of the details of the Leveson proposals – is Ofcom the right body to regulate and are his data protection law changes a good idea? But he said he fundamentally approved of the central idea – strengthen self-regulation through statute.

And so the question is how far he is willing to make mischief on that front with Labour and Tory rebels.

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