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Dacre, ‘Lord’ Black, Murdoch on wrong side of argument and history – fight for new regulator close to tipping point

Posted on 19 March 2014 | 6:03am

To Millbank Tower last night – from where we ran the 1997 and 2001 election landslides – to a staging post of another important winning campaign, namely the one to get proper independent regulation of the press.

A year on from all parties agreeing to support the Leveson plan for an independent self-regulator underpinned by Royal Charter, Hacked Off held a reception to remind people of the press barons’ continuing attempts to thwart an independent judge, the will of Parliament and public opinion.

Steve Coogan, in best luvviedom tradition, could not be there, but sent in a hilarious video as Alan Partridge, acting as spokesman for the Paul Dacres, ‘Lord’ Blacks, Rothermeres and Rupert Murdochs, protesting about judges and politicians having any say in preventing the abuse of power they have been enjoying for decades. I don’t know if the video will be put on YouTube, but I do hope so.

Yesterday Hacked Off published this impressive list of names backing the call for independent self-regulator, and making clear it is a way of guaranteeing rather than damaging a free press. Look at some of the names, and then compare and contrast what they have done for freedom of thought and expression in this country with the Dacres and Murdochs, whose aim is to maintain a monopoly hold on their warped and self-interested view of the world. Brian Cathcart, the director of Hacked Off, spoke well in pointing out where majority opinion lay – both among public and among what I might term the chattering classes – and in pointing out the importance of making sure the public understand that IPSO, the Independent (sic) Press Standards (sic) Organisation  put forward by Dacre and Black is basically the Press Complaints Commission in drag

Hugh Grant and Anne Diamond both spoke  about the need to keep heads above the parapet, keep going despite the press attempts to intimidate anyone prepared to speak out against them. Like Brian Cathcart, despite all the media bluster, I believe the battle is being won, but it is vital IPSO is seen off for what it is, an attempt by the press to make sure the self-regulator is anything but independent (of them) and that it stops well short of being what Leveson recommended and the political parties all supported.

In addition to seeing some surprising and impressive names on the list, it was good to see supporters as varied as actor and comedian John Bishop, former editors Will Hutton and David Yelland, businessman and Labour peer Clive Hollick, film-maker Molly Dineen,  historian Antony Beevor among the few hundred people present. I also met for the first time Gerry McCann, and told him how close I had come to contacting him in the early days when I could see how the press were setting him and his wife up then to try to crucify them. My daughter was with me, and heard for the first time some of the stories about the way the McCanns were treated by the press following the disappearance of Madeleine. Hearing him, and seeing members of Milly Dowler’s family, and others whose lives were ripped to shreds in the spurious name of press freedom, a cause perverted by the Dacres of this world, was a reminder of just how important this fight is and how it must be, and will be won.

What that list of names shows is that even among what they would consider to be their own folk, writers and thinkers and cultural contributors, the Dacres and Blacks and Murdochs are on the wrong side of history, the wrong side of the argument, and it has all been their own doing.

Onwards and upwards. Fight on for Leveson to be implemented. And stand by for a new barrage of lies when IPSO is launched. But these will be the last snarlings of a dying breed whose time has been called. The Dacre-Murdoch generation has had its day and an opportunity beckons for a new, more democratic, cleverer and more representative generation to take over.



  • JD

    I think it’s ironic that the ones wailing about ‘press freedom’ (and using it to abuse others like a clearly grieving Mick Jagger recently) are usually the ones that censor themselves.

    The Sun for example. They’ll actively censor any news about the Labour Party that doesn’t involve scandal (being careful to throw Ed Miliband the odd column for ‘balance’) and have a “trial? Is there one going on then?” attitude to the Brooks-Coulson court action (but seem strangely enthusiastic about other trials like Dave Lee Travis or Max Clifford).

    I mean who can forget them putting Fernando Torres on the front page for scoring a goal rather than the Milly Dowler revelations? The worrying thing is, bafflingly, a lot of intelligent people buy this paper maybe for the lower price and are hooked into this ignorant way of thinking.

    The Daily Fail have this attitude too. If it’s about the NHS or the BBC and it’s bad, it goes straight on the front cover. Ignoring countless stories to the contrary about both institutions. And let’s not even talk about the Express or The Star. The Beano is a bastion of Nietzsche-like philosophy compared to them.

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  • Michele

    Is there any more than one pic that a lot of people buy the sun for, the semi-prostitution on page 3? I believe it has some OK writers but doubt those columns are read.

    I wish people were proud enough to spurn being catered down to by the rags, does it come from some kind of ‘modesty’ about what is a challenge?
    It’s really not very difficult to make people squirm about you if you sit in public with Pg 3 open, think it somewhere else mate …..

    I thought ‘Tubthumping’ was a great record, a one-off that some put in the ‘common’ bracket but it seemed completely uncynical to me, funny and good time, unlike encouraging lots of girls to do more than simply bare their all and pretend it’s like acting :-s

  • Michele

    Anna Soubry, someone with considerable legal expertise, had a worthwhile proposal to punish jounalists that named anyone who’d not yet been charged, was merely in for questioning (eg: Christopher Jefferies).
    She dropped it after pressure from her own team!
    it would have been worth knowing whether it would have attained a majority if a vote had happened.

    • Michele

      Having mentioned her once here I go again …. she was talking in QT about the ‘wonderful’ academy in her constituency last night and seemingly lauding it as a Gove achievement ….. they really don’t seem to understand who set up academies (but not the type that have failed in such quantity and scandal over the past couple of years).

      This one has existed since at least ’06
      I wonder whether it has any untrained teachers?

  • Ehtch

    blah-blah-blah. Anyways, do you fancy shoving say fifty quid like I did to my mate Marc that is travelling from deepest West Wales to do the London Marathon Ali – and he is no amateur, was county champion when in school. He’s already doing a couple of 26 milers at the moment, and in the last week before, will be doing short sprint training, to expand the lungs you know, Ali. Cards accepted… : )

    • Ehtch

      By the way Ali, Marc has got his number through – 49354. Already told him, I expect to see that number pacing behind Mo Farrah on that Sunday morning on beeb telly… ; )

  • Ehtch

    Will keep a look out for Coogan on youtube from this Ali. Hang on, let me look now…. Nah, cannot find, but who gives a donkeys anyway, I don’t. Now next from Radio Norwich…

  • Michele

    Saw most of the shocking programme last night about Tower Hamlets and was surprised there was no mention of the scurrilous gossip in 2010 when lots of a certain type of blue pap …. rags’ blogs were suggesting that postal votes in that borough were being collected and filled in on behalf of people without reading and writing in English.

    Sick thing was that (based only on auto-suggestion) the allegations were actually suggesting the ‘helpful’ collectors were doing so o.b.o. Labour.

  • Michele

    Durrrr, it seems geegee is resorting to smears, what a surprise.
    He’s really not worth anybody’s time, am so relieved Salma Yaqoob saw through him on a femme issue.

  • Michele

    Strange goings-on over at twit-sphere where I rarely look as it’s like looking at a monstrous pile of filing…… with no ‘order’ – not even the age of a retweet.

    geegee spinning about AC’s ID there, apparently not knowing it’s a salute to a footie kit is slightly amusing, he’s such an innocent isn’t he?

    Not so innocent when it comes to exploiting the bodies of dead Muslim children by linking photos of them as an insult.

    Does he have the wherewithalls to question the activities of SOME of those of his ‘own’ present religion?

  • Michele

    Am feeling nasty suspicions at the mo, ulterior motives about the new ‘cash it in and do what you want with it’ ideas for pension funds.

    ‘We respect savers’ rights to do what they wish with their savings’.
    Oh I just do not believe you Osbo.

    Imho it’s just an avoidance of supporting long-term survivors in the future whose state pensions, like any other set income, will inevitably become worth less, but if they had chosen to cash in and spend their private funds decades earlier they’ll no longer have rights to state top-ups.

    The bedrom tax, if it’s really about releasing larger properties to larger families why is it ramped up at people on benefits?
    What’s the real moral or attitude of the policy?

    Labour had it pitched only at private landlords and many of those would have been people with ‘spare’ properties, some probably even inherited or people ‘buying to let’ and thereby having their second mortgages paid by the state though tenants on benefits.

    Now there’s an idea of how oldies could spend pension funds and still get benefit from the state.

    It’s a totally daft plan.

  • Michele

    Wow, Cameron has said ‘Just leave it there’ re the Maria Miller fiasco.

    Nope, there was a time when people could pretend they didn’t realise they were cheating tax-payers, there’s no such time now.
    Let’s just be rid of this woman with no respect for the public.
    I do respect her for wanting to look after her parents but that’s something that some of us do at our own cost/career prospects, not via distorting our expense claims.
    Sick sick disresepctful woman.

  • Michele

    Funny re the tweet about il Duomo 🙂 One Saturday evening mooching around its square during yet another weekend at a trade show and in need of air I was stopped in my tracks by gorgeous singing coming from (I thought) that gorgeous building and thinking I’d never heard hymns sung so well. A few hundred yards later I realised that what I’d been so impressed by was actually from La Scala ….