Coffee House

The Spectator’s two-letter response to politicians’ plans for licensing the press

11 October 2013

5:24 PM

11 October 2013

5:24 PM

What part of ‘no’ don’t they understand? Our politicians have proudly unveiled their new plan to license the press, as if this was is in their power to do so. In fact, the press in Britain has been free from political interference for generations. The British government simply does not have the power to regulate the press, so it’s not clear why ministers have wasted their time acting as if this is their problem to solve.

The mechanics of the new charter released today are not the issue. What the politicians propose is a near-duplication of the regulation which the press has already  to set up: the £1 million fines, the toughest system in the Western world. The press has already agreed to implement Lord Justice Leveson’s proposals, to the millimetre.

The argument now is about whether the politicians should be allowed to impose regulation on the press for the first time in 300 years – or whether they should whistle Dixie instead. We at The Spectator are in the latter camp.


And it’s not just about the UK press.Free speech groups world over are asking the newspapers not to sign up to government regulation because if the notion of a fully-independent press dies in Britain it sets a dangerous precedent for countries where governments would like a similar power grab.

To recap, here’s what’s at stake.

  • The politicians’ charter* implements a plan which does not ‘consider the signal that the creation of such a draconian regime would — if implemented — send to the rest of the world.’ So says the the Coordinating Committee of Press Freedom Organizations.
  • The politicians’ charter would set a template that could be imitated in other countries still fighting for press freedom. Phenyo Butale, of the South African Freedom of Expression Institute, puts it thus: ‘African governments have shown they are uncomfortable with free press acting as a watchdog, holding them to account. A move to statutory regulation in the UK would really be a gift for them.’
  • The politicians’ charter is a deeply illiberal, internationally-condemned plan that would be illegal in several countries, including America (where it would violate First Amendment protections).
  • This is what the politicians’ first draft prompted from the New York Times: ‘Britain’s three main political parties this week agreed to impose unwieldy regulations on the news media that would chill free speech and threaten the survival of small publishers and internet sites.’
  • The politicians’ charter would bring in statutory regulation, which is a ‘hallmark of authoritarianism and risks undermining democracy’. Not my words, but those of a parliamentary committee just seven years ago.

The newspapers ought to thank David Cameron for his efforts, and have some sympathy  – you can see how he has ended up boxed into a political corner. He had to get consensus, so ended up drifting very far from his original plan to defend liberty. But to go back to his earlier proposal: yes, the newspapers have actually come up with Leveson-compliant legislation. They can now introduce it, the politicians can back off, and we can all keep the flame of press freedom burning a little longer.

* An MP gets in touch to say it’s not fair to call it a politicians’ charter, as this stitch-up was agreed without consulting most politicians and will not be put to a vote. So a deal between the leadership of the three Westminster parties.

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Show comments
  • Hector Macdonald

    Five misleading truths in the press regulation debate are exposed here:

  • Jacques Protic

    There is a small part of the UK were Freedom of the Press
    and other media is curtailed by the Government. Truly, an absurd situation
    under any definition but a FACT. I’m talking about Wales where the Welsh Labour
    Government decided some 12 years ago that Wales is going to become a ‘bilingual
    nation’ and where the education is being used as a principal tool to that aim.

    No public debate, no discussion and press are eerily SILENT.
    This is social engineering in XXI C UK and a horrendous damage is being done in
    academic and social terms to Welsh children most of whom have no interest in
    the Welsh language and are leaving education effectively illiterate in English
    language and lacking numeracy skills.

    Most of the public jobs have been hijacked by the ‘Essential
    Welsh Speakers’ including teaching posts and in other words a minority is controlling
    majority through the state sponsored compulsion and again Press and other media
    are SILENT and especially the BBC Wales.

    For more information see and perhaps
    someday the national press who are not beholden to Cardiff Bay may find it
    prudent to ask some pertinent questions of the Welsh Government to explain and
    justify to Welsh and the UK public the policy of a social engineering that has
    failed but no one dares question it and the damage to Welsh education, economy
    NHS and so on goes on unchallenged!?

  • allymax bruce

    Fraser Nelson, modelling himself as the new Ali Campbell ?

  • Bonkim

    With newspapers and the media owned by opinionated and wealthy people with particular political and social agendas, do we really have a free press? They are in a position to spread propaganda and rumours for their own ends. In matters of national security for example, they can cause great harm if completely free to publish rubbish.

    The editorial standards of British newspapers are also pretty low and given that readership is on the decline, editors are increasingly turning to sensationalism to sell copy.

  • sunnydayrider

    There may be a good side to press regulation Fraser. If the regulator insists the rags don’t print pages of pointless, inane childish crappe, you may have to fire Pippa and get your knighthood the hard way.

  • FairBobby

    Newspapers and the media generally are untrustworthy (including the BBC) so one must reserve judgement on everything they report, in other words take everything with a pinch of salt.
    As for politicians, one must assume from the beginning that they are telling lies; there are so few of them endowed with integrity that one must assume the worst until the contrary is proven. The last thing we want them to do is interfere with any of our limited freedoms, such as freedom of speech. Whenever they do interfere they are virtually guaranteed to make a balls of it.
    One remedy is to simplify the libel laws and make it more readily available at minimum cost to victims of slander.

  • sarahsmith232

    what I don’t understand is the reason why we’re so limp about the fact that we don’t live in a society with a free media, print media, at least for the moment is free, rest isn’t.
    there’s so much Labour got away with ’cause our media is so heavily regulated. the latest outrage being the whole Damian Mcbride stuff, in a society with a free media that all would have been exposed within the first year. the lies, none stop, for 13yrs would never have happened. Blair would have been exposed within the first 12months. the shocking facts about immigration would have all come out within 2yrs, 3yrs tops.
    yet, no one cares? it’s the way it’s been here since TV was around so we lamely just accept it. makes no sense to be so concerned about the Left silencing their challengers in the print media with regulation while at the same time be so accepting of the fact that one of the essential pillars of any democracy, a free media, doesn’t exist here. and sure enough, what came of it, 13yrs of Labour gov’ lies never being exposed or held to account. why aren’t we just as angry about this?

  • Craig Sweaton

    What a lot of hot air and bluster you all excrete. Free press is one thing, self regulation of an industry that time and again shows an astounding lack of regard for individual privacy and a disturbing lack of self control is another.
    The penalties for committing illegal and immoral acts of infringement should be massive, & I don’t consider £1m a large enough deterrent.

  • rtj1211

    What part of ‘The Press is subject to the lawmakers, not the other way around’ does Fraser Nelson not understand??

    This is not Marxism, it is basic law.

    If you, the Press, refuse to be subject to the laws of the land then you, the press, need a spell in prison. What the Tories call: ‘a short, sharp shock’.

    You are acting like a monarch when you are not one.

    Go back to Oxford and study PPE again.

    Start with: ‘what are laws and who are subject to them?’

    I know that’s very hard, but do it.

    • Daniel Maris

      Why don’t you do a short course in “The Fundamentals of Liberal Democracy”. Or maybe you don’t like the notion of living in a liberal democracy.

      • the viceroy’s gin

        …that’d be a good idea for you too, lad.

        • Daniel Maris

          After you, General Franco.

          • the viceroy’s gin

            …no, laddie, you’re the NSDAPer. We conservatives believe in freedom and liberty. You despise them.

            It is amusing though, watching you lecture somebody else about “liberal democracy”.

            • Daniel Maris

              So you condemn Franco’s extinguishing of liberty?

              • the viceroy’s gin

                …I condemn you NSDAPers extinguishing liberty today, laddie.

                • Daniel Maris

                  I’ll take that as a no and a tick for approving of his death camps, forced adoptions, summary executions, and oppression of Basque and Catalan cultural identity.

                • the viceroy’s gin

                  Yes, you NSDAPers take whatever you think you should take, as we know historically.

                  And it is you that’s openly spoken of opening the camps, laddie, to deal with those you find undesirable. Which isn’t surprising, because you despise freedom and liberty, which is what makes it ironic, your lecturing others on “liberal democracy”.

  • Rilman

    This is just the start of Socialism. You people need to start voting against it and the EU that is bringing it with it the more integrated we become.

  • Peter Stroud

    Well done Speccie, don’t give in.

  • swatnan

    I’m in favour of regulating the Press, since they’ve failed to regulate themselves, and will fail again under the Charter..
    It won’t be Dixie they’ll be singing but ‘John Browns body … etc’. or to be more exact Lord Levenson’s body etc… because the Press and Frazer have consigned Levenson to the grave, £1m of good recomendationsinterred by the Press.

  • Lady Magdalene

    Shame the Press didn’t stand up for our Sovereignty and Independence as a nation …. when faced with the LibLabCONsensus ….. as Fraser is now trying to defend Press Freedom.
    First they came for the …….

  • figurewizard

    The very fact that we have a number of high profile criminal cases to come illustrates that the law as it stands is perfectly adequate to deal with serious wrongdoing by the press. It also illustrates that there was no call for the Leveson enquiry other than to settle the nerves of politicians who had ironically been rattled by revelations of that wrongdoing in the press they now seek to control.

  • EnemyoftheState

    How did they manage to make Esther Rantzen young again?

  • Dean Jackson

    The article reads, “The British government simply does not have the power to regulate the press, so it’s not clear why ministers have wasted their time acting as if this is their problem to solve.”

    Because Western political parties were decades ago co-opted by Moscow and allies, which is why the West refused to VERIFY what has turned out to be the obvious fraudulent collapses of the USSR and East Bloc. If political parties in Great Britain hadn’t been co-opted decades ago by Moscow and allies, we wouldn’t be witnessing the specter of press licensing, nor would there have been a Leveson inquiry into press practices and ethics!

    Moscow and allies are getting very nervous, thanks, for the most part, to this writer.

    • Wessex Man

      Number one nut job!

      • Dean Jackson

        Going up against the Cominform, I must be a “nut”!

        • Dean Jackson

          Part II

          What did I tell you…in my initial comment above I said, “Moscow and allies are getting very nervous, thanks, for the most part, to this writer.”

          Well, after I posted my comment on the inexplicable plans of Moscow’s legislature to return KGB-founder Felix Dzerzhinsky’s statue to its site across from the old KGB headquarters, the idea has been nixed!

  • Number 7

    Fraser, the wrong two letters.

  • Smithersjones2013

    * An MP gets in touch to say it’s not fair to call it a politicians’
    charter, as this stitch-up was agreed without consulting most
    politicians and will not be put to a vote. So a deal between the
    leadership of the three Westminster parties.

    Well those MPs have got a choice then. Bring down their leaders and shred this crime against society or be complicit in their spineless silence at this vile piece of political interference. Its perfectly fair to call it A POLITICIANS’ CHARTER

    • HookesLaw

      Shocking. Where was the vote which took us into World War 2?

      • Smithersjones2013

        And how long did the Prime Minister who took us in last?

        8 months ?

        • Daniel Maris

          Hooky would have liked him to stay.

          • Smithersjones2013

            Indeed he was impressed by the peace he negotiated…..

            • Daniel Maris

              Yep, he’d have been there at Croydon Airport cheering a peace of paper flapping in the breeze.

  • Daniel Maris

    The press who rolled over and let themselves be Carter-Rucked by the Mc****s (you’re not allowed to breathe their name) really don’t deserve any freedom.

    • Daniel Maris

      Still at least Wendy Murphy (Fox News, can be found on You Tube) told it like it is.

  • e2toe4

    The thing that is killing the press is digitalisation and the compression of formerly different types of media into one point of singularity on the internet.

    Many people already don’t access ‘news’ (whatever that is) in a mediated form…’silo breakers’ steal it and people with internet connected mobile devices archaically called ‘smartphones’ or (even more archaically) ‘tablets’ and the like often access the news directly.

    The BBC is dangerous because by accident it alone doesn’t have to ‘fight hard’ to dominate the online space.

    Local media is becoming so starved that not only are ‘local papers’ being printed miles from their home towns but reporting is often little more than harassed and overworked, usually young, ‘reporters’ copying and pasting news onto the ‘paper’s’ website that they find from the same sources being accessed by young people.

    Unable to find effective ways to monetise their on-line presence local and regional press remain ever more dependent on local authority and statutory advetising revenue.

    The combination of lack of resources, and increasing dependence on narrower revenue bases, weakens the local press.

    The erosion of the national press revenues caused by the migration of advertising to the net, where ad searches do not need to be linked to ‘news’ in the way they did in print, and this tendency for local media to become ‘clients’ of local government, are combining to create real dangers for democracy.

    The value we put on ‘news’ is insufficiently expressed in the revenues it creates.

    It ought not to be about money but it is. Without the ability of ‘news’ to generate money we don’t have the possibility of plurality, and without plurality we have nothing.

    Nothing like a free press and the safeguards that having one provides, at least.

    Fraser Nelson and Ian Hislop represent two publications that are exceptions to the above in that their publications can monetise the journalism and comment they provide, but in relative terms they are both speaking to extremely small constituencies.

    Leveson came about because laws were broken, the laws should have been enforced.

    The scaffolding of private investigators, subverted police officers and large companies in the surveillance business wasn’t supported by the money handed over by journalists alone…many insurance companies, Legal firms and large PLCs have used these people, and their methods, as well.

    The wrongs done by the press should be, as far as they can be, put right, and the excesses of the past demand both analysis and retribution.

    But conflating illegal activities, with distasteful activities, some relatively slight, some very serious; at a time when the press is vulnerable and plurality under threat from technological changes risks destroying whatever ability it still retains to speak truth to power.

    Well done to Fraser Nelson, and Ian Hislop, for at least trying to show it yet retains at least some ability to do that.

  • Rockin Ron

    Well, Mr. Nelson, the test of your principles will be if you are prepared to go to prison to maintain your stance. So, if it came to it, would you be prepared to go to prison or don’t your principles go that far?

    • Makroon

      I would be quite satisfied if Mr Nelson just made it his mission to publish every detail of the sleazy activities of the “Hacked off” subversives.

  • Judi Sutherland

    You know – we don’t care. If the press had shown any kind of moral standards or commitment to the truth this would not be happening now. It’s no use you bleating about freedom when all the press does is use it to construct lies and spin, and to hack people’s private conversations. You painted yourselves into this corner and I would happy if you were forced to comply by law. You want self-regulation – then you should have regulated yourselves properly. The PCC is a travesty.

    • James Allen

      A rather petulant comment, if you’ll forgive me my saying so. You’ll only miss your freedom of speech once it’s gone, so try to think like an adult for a change.

  • perdix

    Who cares what foreigners think? Foreign bad guys will do whatever they think to control their press. They don’t care what others think of them.
    I’m in two minds about press regulation. The press has become arrogant, deceitful and often untruthful, especially with headlines (in all papers) misrepresenting the facts. Those who abuse their freedom should have it curtailed.

    • Rob74

      The problem is compounded by the fact that politics has also become arrogant, deceitful and often untruthful. The press is the only thing that can hold them to account.

  • FredDibnahsLoveChild

    I’m laughing my socks off at the demented reaction from the press. The press gave up its right to self-govern through its illegal, indecent and corrupt activities. It has been free to print blatant lies and half-truths and defame innocent people with impunity. Titles like The Sun have debased British society.

    The proposed regulation is long overdue and will make no difference whatsoever to sections of the press, like the Spectator, that informs without resorting to the malpractice uncovered by Leveson.

    • James Allen

      The “right to self-govern” is called freedom and it cannot be given up, only taken away. I for one do not wish to live in a country where such freedoms are curtailed. And you shall find the British people do not either.

  • Alexsandr

    why all the fuss about the printed word?The future will be online. And as Leveson found our with his spat with guido. once stuff is hosted abroad regulation isnt possible.

    • the viceroy’s gin

      That’s the point though. This is just the cyber camel’s nose under the online tent. The next logical step for the authoritarian socialists is to cut off foreign hosted sites.

      Oh that’s right… it’ll never happen. Never.

      So relax.

      • dalai guevara

        If they did then people would just revert back to dial up. And that’s fair enough.
        They will because only those with the current account surplus will afford standards, those with the current account deficits (US/AU/UK) will revert to said dail up and chippy dinners.

        • the viceroy’s gin

          Yes, you will be one of the authoritarian socialists who will cut off foreign hosted sites.

          It’s what you fascists do. It’s what you types always do.

  • Austin Barry

    The politicians, being largely pathological narcissists, crooks and chancers, want the press to return to the age of deference.

    The Charter should be amended to simply state these words:

    “Parliament shall make no law abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

    It works quite well elsewhere.

    • HookesLaw

      ‘being largely pathological narcissists, crooks and chancers,’ – that fits the press.
      Free press.
      With freedom comes responsibility. Where are the press responsible?
      Is The Guardian responsible? It releases state secrets. Only today it was lying and smearing a govt minister.

      The govt – this Charter – does not stop free speech. Stop listening to the totally bogus rantings of Nelson.

      • HookesLaw

        And BTW – only today we have a smearing lying headline in the Telegraph about the MOD – only in the last paragraph to admit that the alleged scandal does not exist.
        The Press? They are a joke.

        Is anything happening to take away press freedom of speech? No.
        Shocking restriction on the press – to tell the truth. I can see why they don’t like it.

        • James Allen

          Who judges what is true? Hopefully not you!

      • James Allen

        “With freedom comes responsibility”? Oooh, an Eleanor Roosevelt quote. I love to learn.

        • Wessex Man

          He’s angling for the jovb of tea boy to the controller of the press!

  • John

    “the press has already agreed to implement its proposals, to the millimetre”

    With respect, if “the press” could be trusted, the events of the past few years may never have happened and this there would be no need for this to be on the table.

    Not that I agree with press regulation – far from it. I just think the time has passed for the self righteous “why won’t you let us regulate ourselves?” attitude.

    • HookesLaw

      The press are regulated already, its called the press complaints commission (no don’t laugh).

      Cameron REJECTED Levenson’s proposals when Clegg and Miliband were clamouring for them. Cameron got a lot of bad publicity for it.

      You would never think so from listening to Mr Nelson a pompous oaf who clearly likes the idea of parading himself around as some kind of martyr.
      The mail on Line do not seem to think its important – they are too busy demonstrating why the ‘press’ are a total waste of space.

  • David Lindsay

    I am no fan of either proposed charter, because the real issue is ownership, and that is not addressed.

    But, Gentlemen of Her Majesty’s Press, who asked you?

    No one asked the unions if they wanted the anti-union laws.

    • Two Bob

      So do you suggest we all start paying a newspaper tax?

      • David Lindsay


        • Two Bob

          Owned by the people and all that…

          • David Lindsay

            TFI Friday, Two Bob? It would appear so. Bloody smartphones, you can even take them into the pub.

      • David Lindsay

        Actually, now that I think about it, there already is. The Parliamentary Lobby, a form of State licensing not only of papers but of individual journalists, enjoys considerable privileges at public expense, even including subsidised drinking.

    • robertsonjames

      Well, yes, media ownership is indeed a big issue. By far the largest single slice of the media marketplace is in the hands of one organisation, the BBC, which enjoys unique advantages by virtue of its funding by the taxpayer and exploits it, as insiders like John Simpson, Andrew Marr and most recently Peter Sissons have all explicitly acknowledged, to promote a left-liberal agenda.

      But I’m assuming that when you talk about addressing the “ownership” problem what you really mean is laws to target the owners of right-wing media outlets of whom you disapprove (let me guess: a certain Mr R. Murdoch would be top of the hit list?). After all, I’m sure you wouldn’t dream of legislating for the break-up of the state broadcaster which enjoys absolute levels of domination, such as in controlling the clear majority of the radio sector, that no other individual media organisation in Britain could ever hope to match.

      • David Lindsay

        If most consumers choose it over its competitors, then they have exercised consumer choice.

        For all its many faults (see below), it is not a “state broadcaster”, as I am sure that David Cameron would confirm. Does he think of himself as its de facto Editor-in-Chief? Although some of us might say that he might as well be. But for political reasons, not because he is the Prime Minister.

        The BBC only seems even vaguely left-wing to people used to the right-wing papers, with which, especially the Murdoch ones, it does in fact agree on most issues.

        Your problem is with the idea that anyone other than Tories, Lib Dem Tory mini-mes, Tory journalists, barking mad Hard Right think tank types and Nigel Farage ought ever to be allowed any coverage whatever, no matter how limited, and no matter how systematically outnumbered by Tories, Lib Dem Tory mini-mes, Tory journalists, barking mad Hard Right think tank types and Nigel Farage, plus public school presenters.

        Even then, the BBC always finds the bitterest old Blairite that it can. It is even still using Dan Hodges, no longer a Labour Party member, as a spokesman for that party. Like the Tory papers. Spot the difference? No, neither can I.

        • James Allen

          I can’t be bothered to argue with this. “You’re wrong and you’re a grotesquely ugly freak”.

        • robertsonjames

          “The BBC only seems even vaguely left-wing to people used to the
          right-wing papers, with which, especially the Murdoch ones, it does in
          fact agree on most issues”.

          And there we have it. Utterly delusional. In LindsayWorld the inside knowledge of declared card-carrying left-liberals like Simpson and Marr who have openly acknowledged the BBC’s left-liberal biases can be dismissed because, apparently, they are the views of individuals “used to right-wing papers”.

          Well, yes, I suppose if your own viewpoint is somewhere to the left of Wedgie Benn then Simpson and Marr do start to look like shills for the capitalist running-dog reactionary press barons. But otherwise…..

          And for the record, I’m all for everyone of any political persuasion being allowed to print and to broadcast. That’s because unlike the Left with their new-fangled notion of “causing offence” and “hate” to criminalise the words and opinions of their opponents and their desire to go further in muzzling dissident views through media censorship measures and even attacks on non-Left outlets via Chavez-esque ownership rules, I believe in freedom of expression, including the right of anyone to own and run a media outlet if they can put in place the means and have the inclination to do so. But I also believe in a level playing field for funding it.

          You want a left-liberal mouthpiece like the BBC? Absolutely fine. But pay for it yourself, like readers of the Mail do, rather than through a poll tax on anyone of whatever political standpoint who owns a TV.

  • Two Bob

    I have a four letter response for you: UKIP

    Throw your weight behind them from now onwards and they will make sure this never happens.

    • David Lindsay

      Does UKIP still exist?

      • Wessex Man

        Yes Dave taking members off your party every day, when your lot end up taking the Lib/dums place, you’ll be able to write a book about “Red Ed lead me to third.”

    • Alex Saunders

      UKIP can’t ‘make sure’ that this never happens, for they would need to be elected a majority in the house of commons. Given that most experts raise doubts that they’ll even win one seat, how do you imagine they win 320? Besides, based on the performance and the expenses claimed by UKIP MEPs in the EU, I have no reason to trust them any more than the Lab/Con/Libs. UKIP would be a fourth face to that monster, because that is what politics does. It always will be a dirty game.

      The only way to prevent this from happening, is for the press to put up a united front in opposition, and blankly refuse to do it. Which besides the Guardian, I can see happening.

      • David Lindsay

        What if it is just enacted as the Statute Law?

      • Two Bob

        Look, UKIP are the biggest supported political party in this country that are against this regulatory agenda. End of story. Sure if they messed things up then the last option is anarchy, but I am glad this is one more choice left before that happens.

    • James Allen

      A vote for Farage is a vote for Miliband.

      • Wessex Man

        No it’s not it’s a vote for UKip, you Tories just have to stop spreading such rubbish, it’s up to you to get out there and fight for your corner, the shame of it is that most of your hard working local activists have joined UKip, still never mind mustn’t grumble!

        • dalai guevara

          in a system of proportional representation, you are right.
          in a system of FPTP, you are wrong.
          why is this so difficult for some to grasp?

          • the viceroy’s gin

            …perhaps because you’re babbling gibberish, as usual, and there’s nothing to grasp.

  • Hello

    I’m not in favour of any political oversight of the press. That includes Miliband’s stunts in recent weeks, drumming up national outrage which is a form of regulation itself. But…

    When it’s become politically populist to regulate the press, when a leader of the opposition has judged that it would be good tactics to engage in a fist fight with the second largest paper in the country, you are already regulated.

    When you have collectively breached the trust of the nation to the extent that society trusts the politicians more, you are already regulated.

    When newspapers across the country are so worried about falling circulations that they dare not criticise the politicians, in case there is a backlash that causes further damage to circulation, you are already regulated.

    It’s not populist because of the phone hacking scandal, people were disillusioned with the press before that. The seedy and unnecessarily intrusive stories run by the tabloids allowed assumptions about the way the press operates to take hold. Those assumptions were then extended to the broadsheets.

    The assumption that you are too close to the politicians, that you are the mouthpieces of the politicians, confirmed by books like Power Trip and evident in In it Together. Are you really holding these people to account, or are you just chasing stories and connections?

    You should be worried about the fact that this is popular, because it is evidence that your house is not in order. We haven’t had a free press in the UK for some time now, but that was entirely your own making — you guys gave up on the idea of a free press long before the public did.

    • HookesLaw

      Newspaper hacks fall over themselves to suck up to politicians in private because they want the gossip they want the stories.
      The press are a load of worthless hypocrites. Mr Nelson is a pompous oaf – proud to tell us he admires Ed Balls.

      Can Mr Nelson tell is which true story over the last 10 years would have been stopped or censored by this proposed Charter?

      • Hello

        I disagree with you about Nelson. He may be pompous, even conniving, but he strikes me as one of the few members of the press that are pursuing their own agenda — of ideas. That’s fine by me. In my view that is what the press should be, because that is the only way that you can be more or less sure that they are not too close to the politicians. As long as there is a plurality of opinions, or agendas, that are being pursued. Then they are an important part of the body politic.

        I agree that the majority of the press suck up to politicians, for the sake of their careers, but that is what is destroying the value of their industry. Guido has controversy galore, why pay for it?

        Britain’s “vibrant” press is far less vibrant than it used to be.

      • Daniel Maris

        He’s your host here. Stop being so personally rude. You have no manners.

      • Colonel Mustard

        As a supposed conservative (ha!) you are on the wrong side of this argument.

    • James Allen

      You’re right up to a point…. but the fact remains that only large organisations have the resources to investigate powerful interests and these organisations are less independent when required to submit to a regulator. It is a matter of degrees…

      • Hello

        I wasn’t advocating regulation as an alternative, I’d prefer the bad system continues as it is. I was just pointing out that the argument in favour of a free press will continue to diminish unless the press decides to sort it out. Eventually it will no longer be favourable, and that is within their control. It’s not necessarily going to be a long time before we reach that point either.

  • the viceroy’s gin

    So you think people should actually be thankful to your bubble mate Cameron? You truly are a socialist bootlicker, laddie. But I guess that’s who you depend on for your bread.


    “If ye love wealth better than liberty,
    the tranquility of servitude
    better than the animating contest of freedom,
    go home from us in peace.
    We ask not your counsels or your arms.
    Crouch down and lick the hands which feed you.
    May your chains set lightly upon you,
    and may posterity forget that you were our countrymen.”

    Samuel Adams
    Philadelphia State House, August 1, 1776

    • HookesLaw

      usual cobblers.
      Your quote has no context.
      I guess when you are enduring Hilary’s 2nd term you will throw another tea party, because that’s where thick numpties like you are leading America.

      • the viceroy’s gin

        Yes, freedom and liberty has no context to you authoritarian socialists.

        You types steal freedom and liberty, just as you’re championing now.

  • kyalami

    Quite appalling. The political class show their small mindedness again.

    • HookesLaw

      No they don’t.

  • dalai guevara

    “The argument here is not about the Leveson report: the press has already agreed to implement its proposals, to the millimetre.”
    Some spammers on this blog will now finally confront reality.

  • global city

    Everyone who has appeased the forces of cultural Marxism down the years are now reaping the whirlwind, now that they have sufficient strength through the institutions. The continentalisation of our body politic is probably the most dangerous consequenceof our EU membership and Blair’s trashing of the institutions is now coming home to roost.

    Everybody knew the attitudes this cult has toward a free press, but none of you tackled the issue sufficiently.

    I hope that the press can resist this attack. If they do then they must launch an immediate, in depth and unrelenting attack that will root out all the lefty scumbags from the positions they are currently hunkered down in.

    • the viceroy’s gin

      It’s not about “the press”. The worthless wretches of “the press” aren’t worth spit, and have long earned everybody’s ire, which ire is now being used by authoritarian socialists to muzzle the People.

      This is about free speech.

      • HookesLaw

        Well you are right (hurrah) about the press. But this charter does not stop free speech.

        • the viceroy’s gin

          …what would an admitted authoritarian socialist like you know about free speech?

          • HookesLaw

            where do I admit to being a socialist?
            I am a conservative.
            Anyone who is not an Aryan wearing a white bedsheet over his head is a socialist to you

            • the viceroy’s gin

              You openly proclaimed the desire to destroy a periodical publication, depriving them of free speech and free press.

              You are an authoritarian socialist, and have now removed the beard, exposing that disgrace.

              • HookesLaw

                And it was the guardian that campaigned to close the news of the world.
                It was the Guardian that campaigned against an entire newspaper group wanting it closed.
                It was the guardian that campaigned agaisnt a media group to prevent it going about perfectly legitimate activity (ie buy SKY)


                And …laddie… I despise any organisation that reveals state security secrets.

                • the viceroy’s gin


                • HookesLaw

                  I know – thank you

                • the viceroy’s gin

                  You’re welcome, lad.

      • Holly

        Unless your comment is kept from others seeing it.
        What’s wrong Fraser….don’t like folk ‘picking on you’?
        Print my comment.
        This is a thread for free speech, or do you think it only applies to you lot?

      • David Lindsay

        The People? Why muzzle the only newspaper to have endorsed Ed Miliband for Leader of the Labour Party?

        • the viceroy’s gin

          …what are you blathering on about now, lad?

          • David Lindsay

            I told you that you knew nothing about Britain. Now, everyone can see it. You don’t know what The People is, do you? No looking it up, now.

            • the viceroy’s gin

              …whatever are you blathering on about, lad?

              It hasn’t anything to with my post that you responded to.

              Give us a hint, at least.

      • Wessex Man

        I was beginning to wonder why you all were allowing Comrade Lindsay to steal the show!

        This thread is about the worthless wasteful Westminster Village seeking to muzzle the press in the country, why waste your time replying to Lindsay’s attempt to guide you away from free honest debate- make the most of it Red Ed is coming to get you!

    • Two Bob

      There is no problem with the free press because, if anyone does not like a newspaper, then that person does not need to buy it but has a choice of many more. The real problem is the BBC which we all have to support by the poll tax they call a licence. Do something about the BBC and leave the press alone.

      • Andy

        Exactly ! The BBC controls 73% of broadcast news output. That is a monopoly and it should be broken up urgently for the sake of our LIBERTY.

        • rtj1211

          And if you want to watch Sport you have to buy Sky, no choice there.

          • HookesLaw

            What as that got to do with News and comment?
            Sky News is just as much rubbish as the BBC.

            And of course there is ITV which is showing England even as we speak, not to mention BT.

            • Graeme S

              I agree with your comment .. what is desperately needed is a British Fox or similar. Its all much of a muchness !!

          • jp99
          • Colonel Mustard

            Which I believe, in the case of English cricket, is down to New Labour and the BBC. The fact that the national broadcaster cannot or will not televise the Test Match with a national team playing is nothing short of outrageous.

        • David Lindsay

          There a loads of news channels. If 73 per cent of people choose the BBC, then that is what they have done: chosen it.

          I write as someone with a surprising amount of time for Sky News, and a lot for RT.

          • the viceroy’s gin

            …when the law puts a gun to your head and says you have to pay for it, it’s not a choice, lad.

            • David Lindsay

              No one does that. You do not have to have a television. You no longer even need one in order to watch television.

              Personally, I would make the license fee optional (and open to people without a television), and then have the Governors or the Trustees or whatever elected by and from among the license-payers.

              With 73 per cent of the news market and domination of the entertainment market (ITV has to put on both Coronation Street and Downton Abbey in order to get any viewers on Christmas Day, which says it all), I doubt that the BBC would lose a penny.

              It might even increase its revenue, from television-free listeners to Radios Three and Four.

              • the viceroy’s gin

                So end the forced subsidization, lad.

                Take the law’s gun away from everybody’s temple, and stop forcing them to pay for what they don’t want.

                You say they’ll survive just fine. Then no excuse for this theft. End that subsidy.

                • David Lindsay

                  Admit it, you have no idea how the BBC is funded, or what people over here think of it; what passes on this kind of forum is not exactly typical.

                  You think that it is funded out of general taxation, because that is what Glenn Beck or some such person once told you on Fox “News”.

                  No doubt you also think that the British people hate it, much as we hate the NHS, as you were reliably informed by Sean Hannity.

                  After all, we pay 70 per cent income tax in order to fund those two, the BBC and the NHS. The Tommy Robinson-endorsing Brian Kilmeade, who looks very silly now, told you so. Therefore, it must be true.

                • the viceroy’s gin

                  Oh, I’m not going to wade through all that nonsense, lad. It never pays off.

                  Just take the gun away from the People’s head, and stop extorting their money to pay for your propaganda. Simples.

                • David Lindsay

                  That’s a yes, then. You haven’t a clue. You never do have. We really can do without constant lecturing on Britain by a foreign citizen resident thousands of miles away, who gives no impression of ever having been here, but who once read a book by some or other angry Rightist kook of whom no one in this country has ever heard and who is now dead, anyway.

                • the viceroy’s gin

                  No, still not going to wade through your drivel, lad.

                  Remove the gun from the temple of the people you are extorting money from. It’s the right thing to do. What you are doing is wrong, and to fund your propaganda via your extortion is doubly wrong. End it.

                • David Lindsay

                  That’s a yes, then. You haven’t a clue. You never do have. We really can do without constant lecturing on Britain by a foreign citizen resident thousands of miles away, who gives no impression of ever having been here, but who once read a book by some or other angry Rightist kook of whom no one in this country has ever heard and who is now dead, anyway.

                • the viceroy’s gin

                  Again, remove the gun from the People’s head.

                  Quit extorting their cash to pay for your leftist propaganda.

                  If your propaganda can survive on its own, as you claim it will, then let it. What you are doing is amoral. It is simply amoral.

                  Stop extorting the Peoples’ money for your own ends.

              • telemackus

                Do you come up with this BS on your own or do you get it from labtard HQ?

          • telemackus

            I speak as someone who has no time at all for you. Again.

            • David Lindsay

              I think that TVG gets it from watching the BBC, which lavishes attention on fringe nutters of his mind and yours. He therefore thinks that such people are normal, or at least quite common, in Britain.

        • fauxtronic

          Oh don’t you just love it when somebody takes a statistic (out of the “The BBC’s contribution to informed Citizenship” in this case) and completely misrepresents it.

          In reality – when the statistic hasn’t been stir-fried, eaten, digested and recycled via your backside – 73% of the BBC’s total (unrepeated) output is news, current affairs and parliamentary coverage.

          That is very much different to “controlling [sic] 73% of broadcast news output”.

          But hey, if making up and misrepresenting stuff is what makes you tick, you go for it. It’s funny, if nothing else.

          • telemachus

            The essence of good blogging is a provocative spin
            This is legitimate even from an unreconstituted fossil like Andy
            The control of the BBC by the Tory party and Chaimanship of the Trust by the Tory Chairman Patten is clearly an issue that needs urgent attention

            • telemackus

              Our pants are on fire.

            • Colonel Mustard

              Well you are a provocative spinner but I’ve yet to see anything good about your blogging which is just a parody of the loony left.

      • David Lindsay

        You don’t have to have to have a television. You no longer even have to have one in order to watch television.

        • James Strong

          True, you don’t have to have a television.
          But if you have a television you do have to have a licence.
          Why is that right?

          • David Lindsay

            Because you don’t have to have a television.

            The print media, with its knock-on effects on broadcasting, give a megaphone to the tiny number of people in this country who are opposed to the existence of the BBC, or who want to privatise it in some way, which amounts to the same thing.

            From the papers, these people glide effortlessly onto the BBC itself, not only on this issue, but on a host of others. The Loony Right gets to bawl everyone else out.

            Look at the privatisation of the Royal Mail. Look at what is being done to England’s NHS. In both cases, actually encouraged and applauded by the media. Is this is what the vital watchdog of a free press looks like?

            • Rob74

              If I want to drive a Ford, I don’t have to buy a Vauxhall. If I want to read the Telegraph, I don’t have to buy the Guardian first, thank God. Yet if I want to watch ITV, I have to buy a BBC licence. There is no way that anybody can justify making somebody pay, or risk prison for a service that they do not want. Add into that the FACT that the BBC is little more than a propaganda unit for the liberal middle class, and the whole thing becomes a farce.

              People are tired of everything being degraded by the Guardian reading idiots who claim great knowledge and wisdom about literally everything, but spoil all they touch. Education, NHS, BBC, Government and now the Press all trashed. The kids are coming out of school uneducated, competing with the world for jobs in their own country. Then possibly dying younger than they should have in a dirty hospital where nobody has time to care.

              If Milliband and Clegg have their way people will never know the Left are shafting them. But isn’t that the point?

              • David Lindsay

                Blah, Blah, Blah, Blah, Blah, Blah. You people really do need to get some fresh material.

                The BBC is so left-wing that it has every Loony Right think tanker in London on morning, noon and night; two Coalition MPs and a Tory journalist on every edition of Question Time, until recently joined by a UKIPer every other week (parties that actually win seats are given nothing like that kind of coverage); no trade union spokesman, more or less ever; a blackout of an enormous demonstration to save the NHS, at which there were at least 50,000 people; and so on.

                But ever having the most right-wing Labour MP whom they can find on the air is still too much for you. It must be a Marxist plot.

                If you hate Britain so much, then go and live in America, although you would rapidly find that it bore no resemblance to your fantasy of it, which you wish to impose on Britain, where you are having a frightening amount of success in doing so.

                • Colonel Mustard

                  Hyperbole David. Again. Your grip on reality is slipping. We could once rely on you for unembellished fact, even of the disagreeable kind. Has Labour’s propaganda machine got at you? Are you suffering from premature pre-election fever?

                • stevetierney

                  The fact that the Left think the government are horrible and right-wing and the Right think that the government are all Socialists – tells me that the government are probably actually quite well balanced. Took me a few years to get to that, but its a revelation! : )

              • HookesLaw

                There is a roole for public service broadcasting.
                The BBC is unquestionably too big.

                • David Lindsay

                  Saying “unquestionably” does not make it so.

                  Define “public service broadcasting”. Over at least 50 years, successive Governments (and the last one despised the BBC, as the Wilson and Callaghan ones did) have never come up with anything better than “whatever the BBC does”. That failure has not been for want of trying.

                • the viceroy’s gin

                  …and your boy Call Me Dave is lovingly pouring money into it, like the good socialist he is.

                • stevetierney

                  I was quite enjoying your comments until this one. It devalues your position to use cheap phrases like “Call Me Dave” and when you refer to somebody as a socialist who clearly is nothing of the sort. How do we ever proceed with intelligent debate when complex issues are simplified until they no longer mean anything at all?

                • the viceroy’s gin

                  Dave is cheap, and so Call Me Dave is a useful identifier, and deserved.

                  Yes, Dave is a socialist, and the fact that he’s pouring cash into a state run media megaphone is one of the many, many proofs of that.

                  It may be best if you skip over my posts, if they upset you this much, and cause you to seek to squelch them.

    • Common Purpose

      As I posted in repost to a repost to yourself on an earlier thread:
      “At The Media Standards Trust where we are governed by a board comprising respected figures from civil society and the media we see our duty to ensure fairness in the media. That is fairness to the consumer.
      As we read that the political parties have finally come together to agree The Royal Charter on press freedom, you should reflect on the role our promotion and funding of Hacked Off has had in all of this.”
      I will post below Brian Cathcart’s comments on today’s events.

      • Common Purpose

        “Hacked Off, and the victims of press abuse for whom we speak, are pleased to see the publication today of the final text of the Royal Charter on the Press. This brings to an end eleven months of wrangling over Lord Justice Leveson’s recommendations. We now look forward to better protection for the public from the kinds of abuses that made the Leveson Inquiry necessary.

        “We note that in the last-minute technical changes to the charter there have been further concessions to the press industry lobby, notably that it now permits an administrative charge for members of the public to use the new arbitration service. This is not what Lord Justice Leveson recommended and may well deter some members of the public from seeking redress when they have been wronged by news publishers.

        “We trust that those newspaper organisations which have been demanding this change – notably the local and regional press – will now accept that they have no reason to object to the system and will fully embrace the Charter process.

        “The way is now open to create a system of independent, effective press self-regulation that will benefit the public and poses no threat whatever to freedom of expression. Ordinary people will have far better redress when things go wrong, and the Charter will also benefit the industry, giving it a chance to rebuild trust and show its commitment to high standards.

        “Victims of press abuse now look to the industry to embrace that opportunity and put behind them a shocking period in which, in the words of Lord Justice Leveson, some sections of the press all too often wreaked havoc in the lives of innocent people.”

        • HookesLaw

          Making some charge seems fair enough to put off spurious time wasters.

          • the viceroy’s gin

            Yes, you authoritarian socialists see eye to eye on this, no doubt.

            • HookesLaw

              I am a conservative not a socialist.
              Anyone who is not an Aryan wearing a white bedsheet over his head is a socialist to you.

              • the viceroy’s gin

                No, you are a socialist.

                An authoritarian socialist, to be exact, who openly proclaims the desire to destroy a periodical publication, thus demonstrating your scorn for free speech and free press.

                But then, that’s what you authoritarian socialists do.

                • HookesLaw

                  I’m a conservative – you are an total idiot spouting endless rubbish – and lies. thats how desperate and thick you are.

                • the viceroy’s gin

                  No, you are an authoritarian socialist, and you’ve now done the good service of acknowledging it.

                • HookesLaw

                  You have got the bedsheet on the wrong way round – the eye slits are at the back.

                • the viceroy’s gin

                  …is that what the voices are telling you, lad?

                  You best watch yourself… you authoritarian socialists often get yourselves in trouble listening to those voices too close.

                • Wessex Man

                  Be fair he’s only doing his Master’s bidding, useful idiots and all that.

      • Colonel Mustard

        Go and peddle your propaganda elsewhere telemachus.

    • David Lindsay

      This is a spoof, isn’t it? A pastiche of certain regulars on here, in order to get as many votes up as possible? Of course it is. And it’s very good.

    • The voice

      More importantly, has Fraser outsourced his skin to India? How can a Scotchie look so brown in October without makeup or fake tan?

    • Colonel Mustard

      Well said. The scumbags are everywhere. Scroll down and you will see that they are even peddling their invidious propaganda here. Common Purpose is supposed to be a leadership “charity” and yet here they are advocating press regulation and endorsing the “Media Standards Trust” a “think and do tank” with which they are strongly linked as Bell and Middleton are trustees:-

      “Common Purpose is an independent, international leadership development organisation. We give people from the private, public and not-for-profit sectors the inspiration, skills and connections to become better leaders at work and in society. We develop their ability to work together, innovate and to thrive in different cultures – this helps people, organisations, cities and regions to succeed.”

      What on earth is this “charity” doing writing anonymous comments advocating press regulation on a political website? In this case the “connections” and “working together” appears to mean conspiring to suppress the freedom of the press and freedom of speech.

      • FrenchNewsonlin

        (on common purpose) … as the Mail aptly pointed out some time back with its full-on exposure of this dangerous crew of Labour luvvies and meddlesome authoritarians.

  • London Calling

    That is a mighty big NO Fraser……………..I can feel your passion……….:)

    • Anorak

      I say, steady on there!