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David Cameron’s porn announcement shows unusual media aggression

22 July 2013

10:11 AM

22 July 2013

10:11 AM

If it was front page warmth and approval he was looking for, the Prime Minister’s sudden crackdown on internet firms has been a resounding success. Just the sort of thing to stir up even more good feeling as the Conservative party bounces from one bit of good news to another.

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He has of course provoked a fierce row between libertarians and conservatives about whether a filter is the right thing, whether it will work, and whether the Prime Minister and his adviser on the sexualisation of childhood Claire Perry have conflated legal porn and illegal child pornography. And the strange thing was that the talks between Maria Miller and the internet firms were largely progressing rather well. So why’s he doing it?


It’s not really all that strange that the Prime Minister should want to seize control of the news agenda when things are quiet and the narrative is largely that the Tory party are having a good time. And funnily enough, today’s announcement is more about appealing to voters than it is throwing red meat to his own MPs, given they are split on whether the plans are a good idea. But there is also, in his call to the internet firms, a whiff of his ‘smell the coffee’ comments on tax avoidance. He will say today:

‘So I have a very clear message for Google, Bing, Yahoo and the rest. You have a duty to act on this – and it is a moral duty. I have called for a progress report in Downing Street in October, with the search engines coming in to update me.’

Could this be a Prime Minister trying to stand up to corporate giants to gain respect from voters? He will use tough language in his speech, saying ‘if there are technical obstacles to acting on this, don’t just stand by and say nothing can be done; use your great brains to help overcome them’.

The funny thing is that these kind of opportunist moments are so rare in Downing Street that they’re worth remarking on. Perhaps the PM is wrong to push ahead with the plans he’s announcing today, but at least for once he is showing a bit of media aggression. If he’s able to replicate this with other policies, it will be another reason to be cheerful for the Conservative party, regardless of the details of today’s announcement.

UPDATE FROM FRASER Mail Online is delighted that filthy, degrading pictures of women will be banned. The below screengrab is priceless.

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