The public wants a diverse and free press that doesn't abuse its position

Our newspapers could be one step away from the sort of political control that would make an Ayatollah embarrassed

Share
Related Topics

If we believed half of what we had been told, this Monday was to be the most important day in British political history since the signing of the Magna Carta.

You can't blame the newspapers for making a big deal of the Commons vote on press regulation - efforts are still being made at this late hour to find cross-party consensus - but something highly significant has indeed been at stake, even if it is doesn't quite threaten the future of democracy itself. It has been difficult to preserve a sense of perspective amid the blizzard of hyperbole and moral blackmail, and hard to steer a course between vested interests and honest conviction.

All the while, as if to remind us why we're here in the first place, people are still being dragged from their beds at dawn to answer questions on phone-hacking, including last week a woman who is seven months pregnant. (Well done to the Metropolitan Police for showing such courage in this relentless pursuit of the truth: if only they'd been as assiduous in refusing the Murdoch shilling.)

I find it almost impossible to know what to think about the Leveson fall-out any more, a natural consequence of being assailed by so much certainty on either side. Our newspapers are one step away from the sort of political control that would make an Ayatollah embarrassed. That's according to the newspapers. Or they're going to be allowed to roam wild, corrupting public life and hounding ordinary people. That's according to Hugh Grant.

Whatever we may think of his viewpoint, it is hard not to admire Mr Grant: the command of his brief, his articulacy, his determination, and his moral courage, are an example to all politicians. But he is not a politician, and I feel uncomfortable about the position accorded to his Hacked Off group, who, in the post-Leveson discussions, have been treated by as if they are a bona fide political party.

They certainly represent the victims of phone-hacking, but they cannot claim to speak for the great British public, who - in case you may have forgotten - bought the News of the World in their millions, lapping up the tales of private indiscretions by public figures without a thought about how those stories reached them. And while no one can gainsay the poor Dowler family, I don't believe it's right that they should be the sole arbiters of whether a new form of regulation to curb the excesses of the Press is strong enough or not. On the other hand, the newspapers shouldn't take the public for patsys.

Don't they have enough faith in people who have, throughout history, defended life and liberty, and who have fought for freedom of speech at home and abroad, rising up in rebellion against our political masters if they truly tried to shackle those who are holding them to account? The public knows what it wants: a diverse and raucous press that's free to give politicians, business leaders and maybe even movie stars a right old chasing, but that doesn't abuse its power and position. It's up to government to ensure the former, and let the law of the land look after the latter.

React Now

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Digital Marketing Consultant

£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Stores Keeper

£16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...

Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer - C# / ASP.NET / SQL

£17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Election catch-up: I’m not saying the Ed stone is bad – it is so terrible I am lost for words

John Rentoul
 

Election 2015: The SNP and an SMC (Salmond-Murdoch Conspiracy)

Matthew Norman
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living