The key line in Ed Miliband’s retort on Leveson report


by Sunny Hundal    
5:02 pm - November 29th 2012

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This is the key line from Ed Miliband’s speech that the media is quoting, and is central to his speech today:

The press must be able to hold the powerful, especially politicians, to account, without fear or favour.

That is part of the character of our country.

At the same time I do not want to live in a country where innocent families like the McCanns and the Dowlers can see their lives torn apart simply for the sake of profit.

And where powerful interests in the press know they won’t be held to account.

This is about the character of our country.

It is the bolded line that is key, and I suspect will resonate with the public much more than Cameron’s line.

Miliband excelled himself again today in Parliament.

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Sunny Hundal is editor of LC. Also: on Twitter, at Pickled Politics and Guardian CIF.
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Reader comments


Yeah, great line…

…shame he didn’t mean a fucking word of it.

I agree with ED ~ Whats he going to do about it?

In a corporate state , the corporate media are the state media.

All this Henry V bluster about a free media from the big corporate players is laughable. If you want to know what they really think about a free press ask them what they think of wicki leaks? Because wicki have revealed far more about what govts and politicians really do than anything Murdoch or Darce have done in a hundred years.

No, holding govts to account is not what interests them. (Unless that govt threatens their profit margin.) What the corporate media wants is the freedom to steal the private lives and images of people, and sell them for profit. (Except if they are Royal family.)

Excelled himself again today in Parliament ? rose tinted glasses or what .

“At the same time I do not want to live in a country where innocent families like the McCanns and the Dowlers can see their lives torn apart simply for the sake of profit.”

Hard cases make bad law.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hard_cases_make_bad_law

Quote:

David Cameron prepares to defy Commons as he raises serious objections over Leveson’s regulation plans
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/media/press/david-cameron-prepares-to-defy-commons-as-he-raises-serious-objections-over-levesons-regulation-plans-8368370.html

Of course, Cameron objects. Never mind what Parliament decides. News International has said that it is opposed to regulation of the press by a body set up by statute. The press lobby wants to continue with self-regulation by a commission run by its own.

@1 Jim

“Yeah, great line…

…shame he didn’t mean a fucking word of it.”

Please cite the evidence behind this argument, as if true, it is quite significant. Without this, I would have to conclude you were just being cynical.

8. So Much for Subtlety

The press must be able to hold the powerful, especially politicians, to account, without fear or favour.

This is a statement about the nature of the British, such as it is, constitution. The media play a vital role in the way that the political system of this country works. They do hold the powerful to account.

At the same time I do not want to live in a country where innocent families like the McCanns and the Dowlers can see their lives torn apart simply for the sake of profit.

This is a mawkish, sentimentalist statement of a deeply unserious person who has not had a detectable adult thought in his life.

It is the bolded line that is key, and I suspect will resonate with the public much more than Cameron’s line.

You may be right. But we have a choice – we can fundamentally change our constitution and the way that we do politics in this country in a deeply undemocratic manner, or we can engage in some pointless gesture politics akin to Maude Flanders crying “Won’t someone think of the children”. I think I know which it will be.

A country that stupid does not deserve to exist. Not will it for long.

9. So Much for Subtlety

3. Sally

Because wicki have revealed far more about what govts and politicians really do than anything Murdoch or Darce have done in a hundred years.

That is partly true, but not in the way you mean it. Wikilinks – and please learn to spell it properly – showed what we all know: Western governments are basically honest, trustworthy and decent. The rest of the world is largely made up of murderous kleptocrats.

And the Leftist fantasies about how the world is run are childish, cartoonish fantasies. But we all know that by the way that people like Sally behaved. If they meant what they said, if they believed what they claim, then they would not do what they do.

“Wikilinks – and please learn to spell it properly –”

Priceless.

11. Chaise Guevara

I agree with the sentiment, of course, but that’s all it is: sentiment. While there are conflicts of ideology on this issue, I would guess that most people broadly agree with Ed’s comment here. The problem is how we reconcile these different goals.

What rules do we apply to the press? How do we ensure that they allow the press to hold powerful people to account without giving them loopholes through which to harm the innocent? What penalties apply where they break said rules? Who sets and applies the rules? How are they appointed? How do we ensure that they are not in thrall to the government, the press, special interest groups, or their own interests? How does all this affect the internet?

Based on the quote above, Ed hasn’t addressed this. It’s almost content-free.

12. James from Durham

Hard cases make bad law – it is true and if there had been just a couple of instances of the press preying on innocent people, I might agree. But there have been so many. And there have been so many last chances. So many cases where the press have been told stop doing this voluntarily. And they have ignored all those last chances. They cannot regulate themselves.

Of course, there is an alternative to press regulation. 20 years in jail no parole for the owners of the newspapers that have committed these crimes and their lackeys. Do you think the US will extradite the Murdochs?

Another sleight of hand with the truth.

The claim is that the reason why the press shouldn’t be regulated by interferring independents is that only so-called “hard cases” have been harmed by the freedom of the press to print those “public interest” stories.

Try this news from July last year about the press and its regard for public interest:

“The retired schoolmaster [Chris Jefferies] was not at London’s High Court for the settlement of his actions against the publishers of the Sun, the Daily Mirror, the Sunday Mirror, the Daily Mail, the Daily Record, the Daily Express, the Daily Star and the Scotsman.

“His solicitor, Louis Charalambous, told Mr Justice Tugendhat that ‘in recognition of the immense distress and damage’ caused, they had all agreed to apologise for the ‘seriously defamatory’ allegations made in the wake of the landscape architect’s December 2010 death and pay substantial damages.”
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/8670114/Joanna-Yeatess-landlord-Chris-Jefferies-wins-libel-payout.html#

We can tell from that libel settlement just how concerned the editors of some papers are about the truth of what their papers report.

14. Chaise Guevara

What do we all think about public interest in the private lives of politicians and the like? If a politician is having an affair, is that any of our business? Does it become our business if the politician stands on a platform of family values? At what point does an individual become sufficiently politically relevant to allow the press to delve into their personal life, if ever?

15. Man on Clapham Omnibus

3. Sally

Couldnt agree more.

Chaise: “If a politician is having an affair, is that any of our business?”

Not unless his or her party is making a big issue of “family values” and personal integrity.

Reflect on what happened with Harold Macmillan, whose wife, Lady Dorothy, had a continuing affair with Bob Boothby, a Conservative MP.

The affair started in the late 1930s and apparently went on for decades. This was known in the Westminister village and among political editors in the press but kept from the general public until around the end of Harold Macmillan’s life.

On reflection, I don’t believe it was in “the public interest” for us to know even though Boothby became reportedly involved with the Kray brothers, leaders of a notorious criminal gang in London’s East End.

@Chaise

In general, affairs only threaten marriages when they’re exposed. Having an affair and being a good family man or woman are not mutually exclusive.

Let’s be honest, papers print what they think their readers want to read, and we sexually-repressed British like to be titillated.

It was surely in the public interest to keep John Prescott’s activities secret. Some things, once seen, cannot be unseen.

18. andrew adams

SMFS

This is a statement about the nature of the British, such as it is, constitution. The media play a vital role in the way that the political system of this country works. They do hold the powerful to account.

Well kind of, in an extrememely imperfect way – the media will actually give the powerful a free pass when it suits their interests. But let’s accept for the sake of argument that in principle this is, or at least should be, true. But the media itself has power, so the question here is how is it held to account?

This is a mawkish, sentimentalist statement of a deeply unserious person who has not had a detectable adult thought in his life.

No, these are real people who suffered at the hands of the media, and they are not the only examples. It’s those who are not prepared to accept this and the concede that it is a real issue which needs addressing who are unserious.

You may be right. But we have a choice – we can fundamentally change our constitution and the way that we do politics in this country in a deeply undemocratic manner, or we can engage in some pointless gesture politics akin to Maude Flanders crying “Won’t someone think of the children”. I think I know which it will be.

Implementing Leveson’s recommendations will entail neither of these things.

“At the same time I do not want to live in a country where innocent families like the McCanns and the Dowlers can see their lives torn apart simply for the sake of profit.”

I’m open to persuasion by Ed, but he needs to do better than this.

The above is just a bit of Disney, and a sentiment shared by pretty much everyone I imagine. Therefore, why him as PM, and not one of 60 million others?

Besides, there are laws against what happened, and it looks like they’ll be enforced. Meanwhile, the newspapers involved have taken thumping losses.

Btw, I don’t want to live in a country where anything horrid happens at all. Vote for me?

In fact, the press is selective about what it chooses to reveal in the public interest.

I’ve been aware of some continuing cross-party heterosexual liaisons between MPs, which some of their respective constituents would have been outraged to learn about, and some MPs had gay relationships even when gay acts were illegal. For whatever reasons, the press has kept quiet. But then, as I came to know from my limited dealings with journalists, they often come to know or to hear about news which doesn’t get into print.

A regular example is that crime reporters often get to know about the gory aspects of murder cases which they don’t put into their crime reports either because of police requests or, more often, because readers would be sickened.

I’d like to have seen some criticism of the people who buy this shit.

The newspapers publish whatever will make them a profit; if people would mind their own fucking business there wouldn’t be a market for gossip.

If someone else’s personal life has no impact on yours you have no more right to stick your nose in than they have to stick theirs into yours.

And much of this is down to successive, intrusive governments who think they are entitled to get up into your shit because they think you are their property, and those who have argued that the personal is political to the point where they forget the personsl is also – still – personal.

Davidh @ 6

Miliband and the Party he leads are the cheerleaders for the elite that own this Country. Oh, he is not part of that elite but merely the weedy little guy who stands behind the bully, smirking as the punishments are meted out.

Every day in this Country the Right Wing press smear and misrepresent the powerless. The disabled being singled out for particularly vicious attacks, for example. Of course, we could point to the direct lies these bastards publish regarding climate change as well. However, despite this barrage of lies and distortions, Miliband and the band of cowards he ‘leads’ say nothing. No words of defence, no rebuttals and no words of comfort.

Nope, silence is the order of the day as terminally ill people are announced as fakers and the unemployed are held up to public ridicule. All in the name of a ‘free press’.

We saw what happened when a broadcaster announced that an unnamed Tory had an allegation against him? All hell broke loose, yet what happened when a woman was wrongly portrayed as a benefit scrounger? Where is her £185,000? Where was the ‘free press’ when major planks of Tory policy (which the ‘free press’ support) collapse? The work programme has been an expensive failure, yet the people who are supposed to hold the Government to account have stayed silent.

What are Miliband’s thoughts on that? Sorry, I must have missed the ‘key line’ in the speech about legal aid for libel.

No-one in the elite wants a ‘free press’ what they want is the rich elite to have the ability to smear the powerless, and so does Miliband. When push comes to shove Miliband will side wide with the powerful against the working people of this Country. No daft speeches and silly slogans will change that.

This Country is becoming more fragmented than before the second World Waar and people will need to decide what side of the divide they are on humans or corporations. Miliband and Labour have turned up onto the side of the Rich elite.

23. So Much for Subtlety

18. andrew adams

Well kind of, in an extrememely imperfect way – the media will actually give the powerful a free pass when it suits their interests.

Well I doubt it, but so what? It is not likely because the British media is so diverse – and precisely because it is so unprincipled these days. In the Edwardian era they might have done the right thing from time to time, but now, there is no chance. Even if it is true, so what? This system is not merely the best we have, but probably the best possible.

But the media itself has power, so the question here is how is it held to account?

I am not sure that is the right question. Because it does not follow the media has power. The voters have power. The consumers have power. The media is answerable to them. The solution should be a consumer boycott of papers who do vile things. Not giving the government the power to decide what we can learn about what they are doing.

No, these are real people who suffered at the hands of the media, and they are not the only examples. It’s those who are not prepared to accept this and the concede that it is a real issue which needs addressing who are unserious.

No one is denying that they suffered some unquantified harm. Just that Ed Junior’s exploitation of them is mawkish and unserious. As it is. This is a semi-real issue but the problem is that the laws we have were not enforced. Not that we need government licencing.

Implementing Leveson’s recommendations will entail neither of these things.

Actually it will probably do both. There is simply no way that a Government-appointed quango will not have a chilling effect on free speech in this country. More so to the Right than to the Left and Leveson wants to stack it with the usual suspects – academics and lawyers mainly. So it will be closer to Chomsky in politics than Hume or Adam Smith. But it will effect everyone.

24. Chaise Guevara

@ 23 SMFS

“Well I doubt it, but so what? It is not likely because the British media is so diverse – and precisely because it is so unprincipled these days. In the Edwardian era they might have done the right thing from time to time, but now, there is no chance. Even if it is true, so what? This system is not merely the best we have, but probably the best possible.”

Well, the best possible “system”, if it can be called that, is a free press that operates within a culture of taking pride in its honest and competent journalism, as was probably more the case 100 years ago than now. But the current setup is probably close to the best we can get now that sales culture has thoroughly taken over – although that doesn’t mean a few tweaks shouldn’t be made.

“I am not sure that is the right question. Because it does not follow the media has power. The voters have power. The consumers have power. The media is answerable to them.”

Voters/consumers have power. So does the media. It is in a position to influence the thoughts of almost everyone in the country, every day. Reports of Murdoch’s ability to determine election results are probably greatly exaggerated, but the media has influence.

Take, as a minor issue, the “they’re trying to ban Christmas” thing. This is based on a few isolated minor incidents, given undue media prominence, and media misrepresentations/lies about other incidents – lies that can find themselves being repeated every year. A lot of people seem to have bought into it, when it’s a fabrication designed to sell papers. Of course the media has power.

“The solution should be a consumer boycott of papers who do vile things.”

Ideally, yes. But as above, ideally the press would be responsible and this wouldn’t be needed in the first place. In reality there’s an imbalance of information. How can a random person know that the story they’re reading in the paper is misleading when the paper is their source of information in the first place? How can they see what the paper chooses not to publish so it can present a selective view of reality? When the Right-Wing Bugle says one thing and Bleeding-Heart Today says another, how do they know which (if either) to trust?


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  2. Carl Roper

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