29 Nov 2012

Leveson tells Cameron to get on with it

Sir John Major is often used by David Cameron as a kite flyer or defensive shield on tricky policy areas. Lord Justice Leveson uses him as a battering ram to try to knock down the Conservative leadership’s resistance to any kind of law on the press and shame the prime minister into adopting his recommendation – a law that would mean “self-regulation” is certified by a statutory body.

The Major quote is: “if one party breaks off and decides it’s going to seek future favour with powerful proprietors and press barons by opposing it, then it will be very difficult for it to be carried into law…”

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Elsewhere in the report the brutal punches are delivered to the PCC and their proposals for a re-vamp, and the worst excesses of the tabloid press. But Lord Justice Leveson does not malign Jeremy Hunt (over BSkyB), former assistant commissioner John Yates (over relations with press and whether influenced his dismissal of a re-opening of the investigation into phone hacking), Mr Cameron (over closeness with News International, failure to check Andy Coulson’s past), Rupert Murdoch (over claims he extracted favours from politicians in return for favours for his commercial interests) or any of the other witnesses whose evidence was questioned by some.

Lord Justice Leveson sees the press as shining a bright light on everything except their own commercial priorities. But he doesn’t state there has been a dodgy conspiracy between politicians and newspaper folk or any kind of “grand deal” as some claimed was sealed between David Cameron and the Murdochs in the 2010 general election. He talks instead about the danger of perceptions and the need for “transparency.”

The signs are that David Cameron is not ready to jump up and accept this proposal. The Lib Dems and Labour are looking for now coralled together, but keeping them together beyond one ambush vote and through a whole process of legislation could be very different. David Cameron’s team still thinks it can hold out against legislation and we’ll more about that from the PM at 3pm.

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