Coffee House

Labour source tells Coffee House: govt could deliberately overcomplicate Leveson bill

30 November 2012

Labour sources are not happy with the Prime Minister’s decision to draft legislation for statutory underpinning of press regulation. I’ve just spoken to one party source, who told me the worry is not that the legislation is being put together quickly, but that the government will draw up a bill that deliberately complicates the issue and undermines Lord Justice Leveson’s call for regulation backed by statute. The source says:

‘The issue with the draft bill is not the speed: we want speed. The issue is that there is a possibility that what they are going to do is overcomplicate and deliberately overload this draft in a bid to stop them doing the right thing. They have betrayed the victims, they should be looking at how to go forward on this.’

As I blogged a little earlier, David Cameron does want to at least show Nick Clegg and Ed Miliband that he has examined statutory regulation properly, rather than rejecting it out of hand. But by briefing that he has ‘not shifted one inch’ on his position towards press laws, his aides have not only painted him as taking a principled stance, but they have also opened up the suggestion that the draft legislation is only being drafted as a means of knocking down the Leveson proposal for statute, rather than as an open exercise. This could make the cross-party discussions very awkward if the draft legislation, when it is published in the next few weeks, appears to back that up.

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Show comments
  • HooksLaw

    Labour think that the govt would do something Machiavellian because that is what THEY would do.

  • William Blakes Ghost

    Are they worried that it will be too complicated for most of the intellectually challenged zombies on their backbenches (and even the front benches when it comes to Timms and the Eagles and suchlike) to understand or are they imagining that the Tories might attempt the sort of stitch up that comes straight off the first page of the Brownite (not to forget the EU) operations guide?

    I hope its everything that Labour worry it will be. Its about time the Tories used Labour style tactics and made Labour shove it where the sun don’t shine! Thats been another failing of the Tories. They have always shied away from fighting Labour in the trenches and missed far too many opportunities as a result. No one seems to have told them politics is not cricket and is not played by the Queensbury rules either.

    • Paddy

      William Blakes Ghost: I too wish the Tories would use Labour style tactics.

      Get smarter and keep repeating the same mantra.

      Ian Duncan Smith did a good job on Owen Jones last week.

  • eeore

    It is difficult to see how the Leveson proposals could be anymore complicated.

  • Cogito Ergosum

    Of course this government will not legislate to control the Internet. Only the good ol’ US of A would claim the right to dictate to the world (because, of course, they spent the money to make the Internet happen).

  • John Stedman

    Strikes me as a weird way of doing things. No reason why the legislation needs to be complicated but of course it would be easy to make it complicated if that is what you are trying to demonstrate…

    All a bit of a waste of public money if the intention is to do nothing?

    • Fergus Pickering

      Not at all. It is worth a lot of money to do nothing in this case.

  • HooksLaw

    Dan Hodges
    gives a good summation of the hole The Guardian has dug for itself. Having attacked and exposed one of its own competitors it now finds it has to both support the resulting report and attack Cameron fro wanting to keep an unstatutory regulated ‘free’ press.

    It has to support Ed Miliband in wanting press regulation and at the same time say it does not want to be regulated. I do not see Ed and Nick suddenly turning round after their consultations and saying ‘you know what I think Dave was right all along’.

  • Austin Barry

    Newspapers are dying. Leveson might as well have been formulatiing rules for bowler hat manufacturers.

    The Internet is king – for the moment….

    • 2trueblue

      The only problem with the internet is that you often have to look up things, or be proactive, whilst a newspaper has it there and you make your choice. I still like newspapers.

  • MikeBrighton

    “his [Cameron’s] aides have not only painted him as taking a principled stance, but
    they have also opened up the suggestion that the draft legislation is
    only being drafted as a means of knocking down the Leveson proposal for

    Yes you could take that view.

    But a contrary view is

    Ed: “We want statutory regulation of the press”
    Dave: “OK, I don’t agree but will draft the legislation for review”
    Ed: “Er no, er we er don’t want the legislation er yet”

    One could argue Labours position is hopelessly confused or perhaps they are hypocrites?

    • 2trueblue

      They are the latter.

  • Noa

    A headline that I would have enjoyed reading in the Daily Mash, and the take on the story too.

    But surely the better strapline would be:-
    Cameron fails to deny Labour hypocrisy charge as he says one thing but does another.

  • Noa

    “…they have also opened up the suggestion that the draft legislation is
    only being drafted as a means of knocking down the Leveson proposal for
    statute, rather than as an open exercise…”

    Why waste public money in a pointless exercise then? A future left government can and well take the draft down, blow off the dust and pass in in a month of coming into power, with a few knobs and twiddles on cover the internet and independent media.

    Silence will then descend on the critics of all that government knows is good for us.

  • Will Rees

    I’m finding this freedom of the press defence a bit analogue in a digital age. The self regulation of the press, (led to 7 exasperated inquires in 70 years) has given us the PCC. Take two of their rulings: about Parris and Moir. In both cases the PCC set bar as having to be as accurate as bloke down the pub. A couple of decades ago that might have made sense -ensuring the bloke down the pub has voice is a noble sentiment , (though a little misguided given some of the conversations I’ve overheard down the pub).
    But these days the bloke down the pub has twitter on his smart phone and is free to publish to the world and be damned. Meanwhile you wordsmiths are now, more than ever trying to sell content globally, if left to your own devices the best Kite mark you can come up with for British content is “as accurate as a bloke down the pub” you do yourself no favours. Raise the bar.

  • DavidDP

    “They have betrayed the victims”
    Fine. And Labour are fascists. I’d prefer doing the former than having the latter in government.

  • James Strong

    Leveson,Leveson, Leveson.And this post is not even about the legislation, it’s just reporting on Labour speculation about the legislation.

    What about yesterday’s by-elections? How did the parties do? Did the LibDems set any records, not in good way?
    How did UKIP do?
    Why don’t you post about something that has really happened, not what a group of self-interested anonymous ‘sources’ think MIGHT happen?

    • gladiolys

      Labour won all the by-elections.

      • MikeBrighton

        Shock horror, like saying the Tories will hold Whitney or Richmond (Yorks)

  • 2trueblue

    Well they would say that wouldn’t they? They had 13yrs and did not have the balls to tidy up the area at all, and that was when it was at its worst, because it suited them. They were much closer to the people who they now scorn and their man in there. They have managed to deflect any blame form themselves and are busy spinning, successfully, with the help of left wing media, to the vacuous.

    Cameron is right on this occasion not to rush into accepting what could become a state controlled press.

    • Will Rees

      “What could become a state controlled press”. Not my perception of ITN or even commercial radio news, both iirc, regulated by OFCOM

  • Vulture

    Isabel, please stop wittering on about Leveson which ain’t gonna happen, and concentrate on writing a Blog about the real political news of the day: viz. the wipeout of the Coalition parties in last night’s by-elections and UKip’s’ rise in Labour heartlands..

    It’s nearly 12 hours since the results were declared and nary a word from Britain’s leading political Blogsite. Are they still dithering about how to spin the disaster at CCHQ?

    • Salisbury

      “UKIP’s rise in Labour heartlands”. Really?

      In Middlesborough, UKIP got just under 12% or so of the vote – ie in line with its national share in most polls. In Croydon its actual vote slumped to roughly half that level – which must count as a disappointment for a party supposedly on the march.

      In Rotherham the UKIP vote share was much higher, but obviously helped by the foster child controversy and because there was more anti-Labour protest up for grabs because of Macshane.

      An objective observer would say that these were OK results for UKIP, but hardly spectacular. And I don’t think the Tories will be losing too much sleep over doing badly in places like Rotherham or Middlesborough.

      • Noa

        But what view will they take of the collapse in the Tory vote?

  • Colonel Mustard

    Let’s face it Labour are never happy with anything – unless they are in power when they are then happy to screw everyone in their foolish pursuit of “Utopia”. Cameron has not “betrayed the victims”. That is typical leftist emotional blackmail.

    It’s time Miliband apologised to all the victims of New Labour, 1997-2010, those who died, those still struggling with the consequences and those yet to be born who are going to be saddled with them for decades. How about it Ed, since you are so concerned with victims?

    • telemachus

      There is no need to apologise for the most comprehensive responsive health service in your lifetime, nau in the world

      The lives saved are a source of rejoicing
      On Leveson middle of the road Rob Griffiths has written
      “It is no surprise that a panel stuffed with Establishment figures misses the main point.

      “Britain has a monopoly press. We need measures to ensure that the mass media reflect our society, with more diverse ownership and fair coverage of the trade unions and the political left.”
      Leveson ignored the need to have a press that reflects the mainstream views of our society.

      • Captain Foulenough

        If the views are mainstream then why are they not reflected in newspaper sales. Even the most obtuse of collectivists must confess that “fair coverage” (by which, I take it, you mean slavish adoration) is covered by some papers.

        That these papers are not those favoured by the great mass of people is not down to false consciousness, or advertising creating demand or any of the usual leftie nonsense. The Graun, the Socialist Worker etc have low circulations because these views are not nearly so mainstream as you like to think.

        • telemachus

          Reasonable middle folk buy the Sun

          A. because it is cheap

          B The pictures are good

          The fact that they ram right wing views down everyones throats is unfortunate

          Fortunately the resonable ignore the propaganda

      • Colonel Mustard

        Oh, look, the Coffee House’s equivalent of a tick has arrived to attach itself to the top comment and suck the blood out of the thread with a few more ugly boasts and slogans on behalf the most comprehensively foul political party in your lifetime, nay in the world, the Labour Party.

        • telemachus

          You forget




          Sinn Fein………………………………………………………..

      • Fergus Pickering

        Explain to me how Britian has a monopoly press. We have something far closer to a monopoly in broadcasting, but I don’t suppose you want to talk about that. I think the report shows a judge knows as much about the press as a journalist knows about the law.

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