One issue that is in the background of nearly every political conversation at the moment is the Leveson Inquiry and how David Cameron will respond to its recommendations when it reports in the next few weeks. What Cameron does will do a lot to shape the political and media mood between now and the next election.
Cameron is keen not to be seen to pre-judge the matter, hence his warning to Tory Cabinet Ministers recently to watch what they say about it, and is playing his cards close to his chest. But those close to him are well aware that there’s a danger that Miliband and Clegg—who have The Independent reveals been holding talks on the matter—will come out almost immediately for what Leveson proposes. This could leave the Prime Minister looking isolated.
This is why some allies of his were so irritated with Friday’s letter from Tory MPs to The Guardian opening the door to statutory regulation. They feel this restricts Cameron’s room for maneuver and will encourage the other parties to call for a free vote on Leveson’s recommendations.
But amidst all this politics, we shouldn’t lose sight of the principles involved. Yes, sections of the press behaved appallingly. But the crucial point is that nearly all of their actions are already covered by law. Statutory regulation of the press will simply serve to make our society that little bit less free.