It was back to the future at the Leveson inquiry today, as Sir John Major suggested how the press might be regulated. He was calm and confident, launching the odd softly-spoken salvo at former enemies, among them Rupert Murdoch. He said:
“Certainly he [Murdoch] never asked for anything directly from me but he was not averse to pressing for policy changes. In the run up to the 1997 general election in my third and last meeting with him on 2 February 1997 he made it clear that he disliked my European policies which he wished me to change….If not, his papers could not and would not support the Conservative government.’
This account does not quite chime with Murdoch’s evidence to the inquiry in which he said, ‘I have never asked a prime minister for anything.’ News Corporation are standing firm on Murdoch’s testimony, as they did yesterday after Gordon Brown’s appearance.
Across the political and generational spectrum, Ed Miliband continued his campaign for responsible media ownership. He stated that News International’s 34 per cent of market share is ‘too much’, implying that it should be reduced somehow. He also came out against ‘statutory regulation of content,’ like most of the other participants in this process, particularly those from members of the present government. Will those views govern Lord Leveson’s eventual recommendations?
Subscribe to The Spectator today for a quality of argument not found in any other publication. Get more Spectator for less – just £12 for 12 issues.