David Cameron’s decision to go it alone and call a vote on a press Royal Charter on Monday is a reminder both of how fundamental the differences between the coalition partners are on press regulation and that the next election is less than 25 months away. Cameron’s statement that if he loses next week and statutory regulation passes, then a majority Conservative government would repeal it shows that he’s prepared to make this an election issue.
The coalition won’t fall over Monday’s vote. But it will be a moment of high parliamentary drama. I would venture, though, that if Labour and the Liberal Democrats can’t agree a common position on press regulation now, then it doesn’t bode well for the prospects of them working out a full coalition agreement together after 2015.
Leveson is not a subject that greatly interests the public. But, for obvious reasons, it obsesses the media. In the next few days, I suspect that most papers — and, certainly, the traditionally Tory inclined ones — will back Cameron’s position. Set against him will be Hacked Off and some of those whose phones were hacked. Number 10 won’t mind having a fight with Hugh Grant, but it will wish to avoid a contretemps with the McCanns and other non-celebrity victims.
Next week, we’ll see the Budget as well as these Leveson votes. Between them these two events will do much to shape the political landscape for the rest of the year.Tags: Coalition, Leveson, Press regulation, UK politics