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A brief history of the many ‘last chance saloons’ in which our press have drunk to excess

Posted on 26 November 2012 | 5:11pm

It is not often that I give over this space to a Tory MP, let alone one who was closely involved in David Cameron’s failed efforts to secure a Parliamentary majority.

However, as the bulk of the press seeks to shape the pre-Leveson debate in a way that suits their own political and commercial interests, dressed up as principles of freedom, I thought you might enjoy the letter sent to his colleagues by backbencher George Eustice.

Mr Eustice knows a fair bit about the media, having been Mr Cameron’s press secretary. He therefore also knows a fair but about Mr Cameron, and is clearly concerned that the Prime Minister is seriously considering given the press one more ‘one last chance’ to sort themselves out. Here is his letter.

‘Following speculation that the government might be about to offer the press, “one last chance” to make self regulation actually work, I thought colleagues might be interested in the history of previous “last chances” over the past 65 years. Parliament has not always been good at learning from its mistakes, so has condemned journalism to suffer crisis after crisis. Here is the record:

1. 1953. Four years after a Royal Commission told the press to start regulating itself, nothing had been done. Only the threat of legislation forced them to create the General Council of the Press. Withdrawing his Private Member’s Bill, C.J. Simmons MP told the Commons: ‘I give warning here and now that if it fails, some of us again will have to come forward with a measure similar to this bill.’

2. 1962. A second Royal Commission told the press to make self-regulation effective: ‘We think that the Press should be given another opportunity itself voluntarily to establish an authoritative General Council . . . We recommend, however, that the government should specify a time limit after which legislation would be introduced.’

3. 1977. The third Royal Commission on the Press urged radical changes to the Press Council and said that if nothing was done parliament should act. The report said: ‘We recommend that the press should be given one final chance to prove that voluntary self-regulation can be made to work.’

4. 1990. Parliament backed the Calcutt Committee recommendations for radical improvements to self-regulation, including the establishment of an effective Press Complaints Commission. Papers were given a ‘year of grace’ to make this work and the Home Secretary, David Waddingston, told the Commons: ‘This is positively the last chance for the industry to establish an effective non-statutory system of regulation.’

5. 1993. The Calcutt Review concluded that the PCC was ‘not . . . an effective regulator of the press’. It recommended a Press Complaints Tribunal backed by statute. A Major government with a slender majority failed to implement this.

6. 2011. Amid public outrage over the revelation that Milly Dowler’s phone had been hacked, David Cameron told the Commons: ‘I accept we can’t say it is the last chance saloon all over again. We’ve done that.’

If you are interested in doing your bit to try to break this cycle of failure but would like further information or want to discuss the issue more fully, please do not hesitate to make contact.’

George Eustice MP for Camborne, Redruth and Hayle’

Mr Eustice’s reward for saying what he thinks, and speaking out in what he believes to be the national interest, is to have the label ‘useless Eustice’ regularly applied to him by the press. Meanwhile those who are on the side of the Murdochs and Dacres of this world, like the twin clowns Gove and Johnson, are given as easy a ride as can be imagined for a top flight politician … which is one of the reasons why they ‘believe so passionately’ in the freedoms our newspapers falsely claim to represent.

Meanwhile, in the interests of political balance, (one Tory, one Labour) here is the article Ed Miliband wrote in today’s Guardian.

  • Anonymous

    I think Alastair’s blog should be state regulated so that George Osborne and David Cameron can have better control over what Alastair is allowed to say.
    Fair’s fair, after all that’s what you want for the press isn’t it Alastair?
    Has it never occurred to Alastair how much worse the 80s would have been if Maggie had had outright control over all the press instead of just Murdoch?!

  • Anonymous

    Masterstroke by Osborne today hiring Carney. For once the groomed, establishment, entrenched, status quo, old boys network have been circumvented.
    Much harder for Labour to peddle the myth about a “Global” financial crisis when we have just hired a central banker from Canada who had no banking crisis to speak of.
    Also much harder for Tories to blame the eurozone for recession/stagnation, when Canada suffered no such problems despite having a similar relationship with the crashing USA as Britain had with the crashing EU.

  • Anonymous

    This Carney appointment is an absolutely devastating blow for Osborne’s rivals. He is right back in the mix to be the next leader of the conservative party, I would say he has leapfrogged Boris Johnson and Michael Gove with this appointment.

  • Olli Issakainen

    Free press?
    In 1967 Cecil King, head of Britain´s largest press group IPC, requested other press barons that “on no account should any report or even speculation about the content of the [Bilderberg] conferences be printed”.
    When C. Gordon Tether tried to write in the FT about the total ban on reporting over the Bilderberg Group, the then editor of FT (1976) censored the piece.
    Tether was soon dismissed from Lombard column.
    Tony Blair is set to make an important speech on Europe according to papers.
    Once again this is lazy journalism.
    No one has bothered to find out what is this Business for New Europe where the speech is held.
    Well, I have!
    Business for New Europe represents “business leaders” who want to make a positive case for “reform” in Europe.
    Who are they?
    Ronald Rudd, the chairman, has worked for Rothschilds´ FT.
    Guy Dawson is the vice chairman of Rothschilds´ Nomura.
    Lord Brittan is a director of Rothschilds´ Unilever. He is a member of Bilderberg, Trilateral and Ditchley.
    Sir Andrew Cahn is a vice chairman of Nomura.
    Anthony Salz is a vice chairman of Rothschild.
    Lord Kerr is a deputy chairman of Rothschilds´ Shell. He is a member of Bilderberg Group and Trilateral Commission.
    Walter A. Gubert is vice chairman of Rothschilds´ JP Morgan Chase. David Rockefeller was the head of Chase Manhattan bank.
    Sir Martin Sorrell is a member of Bilderberg and Trilateral.
    Stuart Popham works for Rothschilds´ Citigroup.
    And so on…
    Tony Blair is the chairman of the International Council of Rothschilds´ JP Morgan.
    Henry Kissinger, who funds the Bilderberg Group, is also a member the council.
    16 March 1998 MP Christopher Gill in a written Q&A to the PM Blair asked how many government members have attended meetings of the Bilderberg Group.
    None, was the answer from Mr Blair.
    Is this true?
    According to the Guardian (1 June 2012) Mr Blair attended the Bilderberg conference 1993.
    Is this true?
    The name of Mr Blair is on the attendee list of the Bilderberg meeting 1993 in Athens, Greece.
    Parliamentary records show that Mr Blair was there with Ken Clarke.
    The Times (4 March 1996) says that Mr Blair attended the Bilderberg meeting in 1993. The author of the piece, William Rees-Mogg, himself took part in the meeting.
    Tony Blair was there with Ken Clarke, he says.
    According to Wikipedia Tony Blair took part in the Bilderberg meeting in 1993.
    Gordon Brown in 1991.
    John Smith in 1989.
    The aim of journalism should be to tell the truth. Not to be a mouthpiece for the elite.
    Ps. Leave the EU or face disaster.

  • Olli Issakainen

    I promised to run through Blackburn in my Burnley FC replica shirt if the next governor of the BoE did not have direct links to Rothschilds.
    No need for this now.
    Mark Carney is a former employee of Rothschilds´ Goldman Sachs.
    Like Mr Osborne, he is also a member of Rothschilds´ Bilderberg Group.
    Goldman Sachs finances the Bilderberg Group.
    Does Goldman Sachs rule the world?

  • Olli Issakainen

    Common Purpose.
    Things are getting a bit weird.
    It is now claimed that Common Purpose, educational charity which offers leadership development courses to civil service, police, media etc, is influencing Leveson inquiry!
    Common Purpose is headed by Julia Middleton and Sir David Bell.
    Claims have also been made that Common Purpose uses neuro-linguistic programming for political purposes.
    Common Purpose is according to the rightwing press Left-wing version of Freemasons.
    It is said to be “secretive FABIAN organisation”, Left´s old boys network.
    So if you believe the Mail and the Telegraph.
    Common Purpose has links to lobby/PR groups like Bell-Pottinger.
    Sir David Bell is a former chairman of FT and current director of the Economist, both owned by Rothschilds.
    He is the chairman of Media Standards Trust which has links to Hacked Off.
    Helena Kennedy is acting chair of Media Standards Trust. She is connected to Common Purpose.
    Other people at Media Standards Trust are Julia Middleton, Charles Manby (Goldman Sachs) and Anthony Salz (NM Rothschild)!
    How is this all connected to Leveson?
    Well, Sir David Bell is a key advisor to Leveson. Together with Shami Chakrabarti, David Currie, Elinor Goodman (FT), George Jones and Paul Scott-Lee.
    Lord Currie and Sir Paul are connected to Common Purpose.
    A bit of investigative journalism is needed here.
    Sir David Bell, by the way, is a trustee at Bureau of Investigative Journalism…

  • Anonymous

    It is funny that press regulation is always called for when the establishment has been found out that it is they that is corrupt, as per Profumo Scandal in the early sixties?

    And with booze, this T. May 45p per unit proposition – I take it it is effectively going to be a tax rise, and that is the motive, rather than health reasons of people and society?

    Just wait for the tranny vans to turn up at Folkstone down to their axles with booze “for personal consumption” again.

  • Anonymous

    Masterskroke? See how long he lasts before Carney gets tired and frustrated coping with such types reaguns, and throws the towel in. It is just a gimmick by Osborne for today. Once Carney starts to get shat on by these feckless types since he is not one of them, he’ll leg it.

  • Anonymous

    Yes, Common Purpose, the cross sex new masons. It is interesting Olli.

    And they are not interested in owning a bag of golfclubs too in their back boot of their car, which I suppose it makes it a “different” clique set-up.

  • Anonymous

    Ref. Golf: Always do post a Meades observation when I am on about THAT sport of britland, so why make it different now Ollie – have a laugh at this, again,

  • Anonymous

    Furthermore. To T. May, I recommend it to be put into a pot, ring-fenced, for mental health in all ways, as per lottery for good causes, rather than to prop up any plastic melting economy.

    Just a suggestion. Substance abuse is connected to state of mind, after all. Think how many social psychotherapists for common sense you could train up with that coin, Theresa? Are you listening?