Labour sources are not happy with the Prime Minister’s decision to draft legislation for statutory underpinning of press regulation. I’ve just spoken to one party source, who told me the worry is not that the legislation is being put together quickly, but that the government will draw up a bill that deliberately complicates the issue and undermines Lord Justice Leveson’s call for regulation backed by statute. The source says:
‘The issue with the draft bill is not the speed: we want speed. The issue is that there is a possibility that what they are going to do is overcomplicate and deliberately overload this draft in a bid to stop them doing the right thing. They have betrayed the victims, they should be looking at how to go forward on this.’
As I blogged a little earlier, David Cameron does want to at least show Nick Clegg and Ed Miliband that he has examined statutory regulation properly, rather than rejecting it out of hand. But by briefing that he has ‘not shifted one inch’ on his position towards press laws, his aides have not only painted him as taking a principled stance, but they have also opened up the suggestion that the draft legislation is only being drafted as a means of knocking down the Leveson proposal for statute, rather than as an open exercise. This could make the cross-party discussions very awkward if the draft legislation, when it is published in the next few weeks, appears to back that up.
More Spectator for less. Stay informed leading up to the EU referendum and in the aftermath. Subscribe and receive 15 issues delivered for just £15, with full web and app access. Join us.