Letters: Leveson squares up to the press and the Tories

 

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Leveson is not about passing laws to restrict what the press might say. We have libel laws and no more are proposed. This is all about power.

At present only the wealthy have access to the English legal system, and newspapers have acted with total lack of concern for those they know cannot afford to take them on. The statutory body is intended as an insurance policy for those that are wronged.

The Tories are the party of the powerful. They don't want their power base in the right-wing media eroded. That's why they can be relied upon to pack any new Press Complaints Commission with their chums. And that is why we need a statutory underpinning for the PCC in future.

Craig Mackay

Cambridge

This is not a question of freedom of speech versus state control. A new regulator, not funded by the industry, not composed partly of newspaper editors or politicians, and with no opt-out, is the only way to create a truly independent watchdog which will restore public confidence in the papers.

Christopher Hutchings

Hamlins LLP, London W1

A judge recommends regulation of the press by a statutory body and a senior politician changes tack and appears to support freedom of the unregulated press. Could it be that the politician wishes to enlist the help of the press at the next general election?

Mark Morsman

London SE13

On expenses, MPs "just don't get it"; on Leveson, nor do you. We do not trust you to regulate yourselves, and do not believe you will even try to do so unless forced to by law. How can we be any clearer?

R S Foster

Sheffield

Oh dear. It would seem that nothing will change significantly as a result of the report which has taken so much time and money.

What amazes me is how kind and understanding the press is to itself. One can only imagine the different reaction of the red-tops if the scandal was about any other service – education, NHS, police. No punches would be pulled, there would be a clamour for heads to roll. Yet they still ask us to believe that they can self-regulate. Pull the other one.

Tony Kane

London SW19

Twenty news pages on the Leveson Report, two further pages of opinion and an eight-page "special supplement": 30 pages all told – just because it's about the press.

To become so carried away with a story about your own profession is subjectivity gone mad.

Mike Park

London SE9

This country has fought two world wars to preserve freedom, which includes freedom of speech and freedom of the press. If press regulation is enforced, then all the suffering and death will have been for no purpose.

All the recent misdemeanours of the press are covered by law, and if the police had acted this current upheaval would not have been necessary.

Colin Bower

Nottingham

Once again, the Prime Minister displays a poor knowledge of British history when he argues that careful thought was necessary before the Government "crossed the Rubicon" with the first press law for hundreds of years.

What about the Newspaper and Stamp Duties Act of 1819, one of the notorious Six Acts passed after the Peterloo Massacre, the censorship clauses of the Defence of the Realm Act of 1914 and its Second World War equivalent, the Emergency Powers Act of 1939?

While I do not advocate government interference on the scale of these (eventually repealed) Acts, the emotive sound-bite of "300 years of press freedom" is not completely accurate.

Mick Jennings

Preston on Stour, Warwickshire

In the light of the Hillsborough disaster's resolution by a panel chaired by the Bishop of Liverpool, isn't the best independent body to regulate our papers neither the press, nor the police, nor Parliament, but impartial prelates?

The Rev Richard James

Harrogate, North Yorkshire

Folly to build houses on farmland

On regular rail journeys between Norfolk and London, I pass numerous large factory sites, derelict for years, which appear ideal for brownfield housing development. These sites are all in the prosperous South-east, in attractive areas with good commuter links and where the development of housing on virgin farmland has been rife for years.

Is it possible that developers simply prefer nice clean farmland to the cost of clearing derelict factory sites, with rubble, concrete foundations and soil pollution to contend with? If government continues to take a hands-off approach, many of these sites will never be cleaned up and developed, and the loss of farmland will continue. It will need more than gentle encouragement from planners to force developers to use such sites.

Gavin Turner

Gunton, Norfolk

We will never solve the housing problem without a policy to stabilise our island population. This requires that net immigration becomes zero; and that child benefit ceases to be paid to mothers who already have two children.

Nick Boles, the Conservative housing minister, implies that any land not carrying houses is "undeveloped". On the contrary over the last 400 years the land of our countryside has been cultivated so that it is now a valuable resource for growing food. What folly to concrete over our land when world population is growing fast and food prices rising rapidly.

John Moor

Petersfield, Hampshire

Tax boycott won't work

Your suggestion that customers take their business elsewhere, to persuade multinationals to pay more UK corporation tax, is wholly unrealistic, and I amazed you put forward such a daft idea (leading article, 28 November).

The possibility of even a small minority boycotting purchases from the likes of Amazon and Starbucks is about zero. Even if it happened it would have no influence at all.

The only option I can see is to replace corporation tax with a small tax on turnover in the UK. It would not be perfect but it would ensure multinationals pay more tax than they do now and create a level playing field for companies who do pay more corporation taxes.

Peter Moyes

Brightlingsea, Essex

Tell us about the underemployed

The recently released data from the Office for National Statistics showing that one worker in every 10 is underemployed (in the sense of wanting to work more hours) is a cause for concern. However, this particular definition of underemployment is extremely narrow.

If, as many economists have argued, the concept is widened to include workers who are employed in jobs that do not fully utilise their skills (physics graduates serving in bars, biologists waiting tables in coffee shops, and so on) one suspects that the one in 10 is only the tip of an alarmingly large iceberg.

Come on ONS, give us a fuller picture of the true extent of underemployment, as a measure of underutilisation of human capital, in Britain's stagnant economy.

David Sapsford

Sir Edward Gonner Professor of Applied Economics (Emeritus)

University of Liverpool

Academies tragedy

So the academies programme is now the Department for Education's "key means of improving standards". They never learn.

Some 15 years ago Black and Wiliam showed that what happens in the classroom is far and away the most important factor in learning, and that school organisation is more or less irrelevant. The academies programme is not evidence-based. It is part of an ideologically driven onslaught on local authorities who were, through their professional development programmes, one of the key means of improving standards through improving teaching and thus directly influencing what happens in the classroom.

The DfE line would be amusing were it not such a tragedy for our young people and our future.

Dr Stephen Lunn

Oxford

All together, or just pretending?

"Does it require 100 per cent of us to say that 'we are all in this together' to prove that we are all in it together?" asks David Hasell (letter, 29 November).

Well it would take more than "saying it" to constitute proof: in addition, all would need to have valid evidence for honestly believing it. So the crass assertion from the posh boys, who didn't believe it themselves, that '"we are all in this together" was dead on arrival.

Eddie Dougall

Walsham le Willows, Suffolk

Missing fivers

In the summer of 2010 the Bank of England Governor, Mervyn King, said he was going to ensure more £5 notes were issued at cash machines across the country. I'm still waiting to see one come out of the machines I regularly use in Cumbria. Am I just unlucky or did this aspect of quantitative easing never take place?

Alan Cleaver

Whitehaven, Cumbria

Natives

Dr Peter Shambrook (letter, 22 November) compares Israelis to 19th- century American settlers, and Palestinian Arabs to Native Americans. Canon Tony Chesterman's letter on the same day regarding the completely different subject of the Synod vote, by referring to "Jesus the Jew" (a resident of 1st-century Jewish "Palestine"), provides a timely and historically accurate corrective to Dr Shambrook's false analogy.

Julian Charles

Stanmore, Middlesex

Interesting idea

When I was an accountancy student over 50 years ago, I learnt about a law against "usury". Any interest charged at over 48 per cent was not recoverable by law. I wonder what fool government repealed that one. In view of the pay-day loans scandals it should be brought back.

David Carter

Shaldon, Devon

Hash of a name

By the time little Hashtag grows up ("Will Hashtag live to be 140?", 29 November) nobody will remember what Twitter was. She will be able to tell people that Hashtag is a date in the German calendar when traditionally people dine on leftovers, and nobody will know any different.

John Smurthwaite

Leeds

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