15 March 2013

Tweaking the tails of Mail and Sun has consequences...

Yesterday David Cameron put an abrupt end to cross-party talks to resolve differences over the form press regulation should take after the Leveson Inquiry Report. The decision will now be determined by votes on amendments made in a Parliamentary debate on Monday next, 18th March.
Clegg, Cameron and Milband - image from Daily Express
Cameron's decision has come as a surprise to many who thought that an agreement was close :-
(The Guardian's account of Cameron's press conference very soon after he informed Clegg and Miliband of his decision to abandon the talks can be found HERE)

Over the past few months, since the Leveson Report was published and attention turned to David Cameron who would make the ultimate decision about whether to adopt the recommendations or not, there has been a cacophony of dire warnings about the consequences of bringing in new draconian measures to curb the 'free press'.

The most stentorian, hyperbolic voices raised have been from the right-wing press - both 'quality' and tabloid. Countless articles written, opinions solicited and heard on TV screens - most with dire warnings of what would happen to investigative journalism in particular should Parliament plump for 'state regulation' of the press. ('State regulation' of the press is not on the cards, in any case!)

David Cameron himself has become a target for the more mischievous, some would say unprincipled, journalists who write increasingly dark pieces about 'stalking-horses' and 'leadership bids'. Designed no doubt to rattle the PM and show him in no uncertain way that their support for him and his leadership is dependent on the decision he makes about press regulation!
Boris Johnson Fails to Rule Out Future Leadership Bid - Telegraph
Cameron Dismisses Talk of Theresa May's Leadership Challenge as 'All Rubbish - Mail Online
David Cameron In Peril as Discontent in Tory Ranks Rises - Telegraph
Theresa May Unveils Her Manifesto For Party's Future - The Sun

These 'rumours' and cleverly targeted insinuations have not escaped the notice of the PM himself - from HuffPo:-

Then, following yesterday's sudden withdrawal from talks by Cameron, came this:-
(Full article HERE.)

Today, the Daily Mail has reset its sights and Ed Miliband and Hacked Off are now in its crosshairs:

(Full article HERE.)

A reply from Hacked Off is reproduced HERE by the Inforrm Blog.

Earlier this week, this knocking-copy appeared in the Sun:-
(Full article HERE.)

Past examples of the way newspapers can deliberately smear opponents in an attempt to sway public opinion or influence policy are given here:
News International Have Issued EIGHT Corrections to Stories About Gordon Brown in Just Six Months - Labourlist

It will be fascinating to watch the headlines this weekend - especially in the Sundays!