Leader: The press divide on Leveson

 

In December 2012, we observed in a leader that the private meetings between David Cameron and selected newspaper editors to discuss the legislative response to the Leveson report had “all the makings of the kind of cosy establishment stitch-up that has allowed journalistic malpractice to flourish for so long”. It would seem that the Guardian, Independent and Financial Times, whose representatives attended the initial discussion between editors and the Prime Minister, now support this view.

In co-ordinated editorials, the three newspapers argued that rival publications – notably the Mail and Telegraph groups and the News International titles – had become too entrenched in their opposition to any reforms, unfairly characterising them as an untenable threat to press freedom. The FT called for a “practical gesture of goodwill to break the deadlock and avoid a sweeping press law”.

Meanwhile, the Labour peer Lord Putt - nam has attached a “Leveson clause” to the Defamation Bill in an attempt to establish a press regulator. His frustration with Downing Street is understandable but his amendment threatens to derail a much-needed and widely supported piece of legislation to reform our absurdly punitive libel laws.

Politicians and newspaper editors owe it to the public to replace the Press Complaints Commission and revive hopes of libel reform. The refuseniks must be prepared to yield some ground – and to set out their proposals as transparently as possible.

This article first appeared in the 18 March 2013 issue of the New Statesman, The German Problem

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To stop Jeremy Corbyn, I am giving my second preference to Andy Burnham

The big question is whether Andy Burnham or Yvette Cooper will face Jeremy in the final round of this election.

Voting is now underway in the Labour leadership election. There can be no doubt that Jeremy Corbyn is the frontrunner, but the race isn't over yet.

I know from conversations across the country that many voters still haven't made up their mind.

Some are drawn to Jeremy's promises of a new Jerusalem and endless spending, but worried that these endless promises, with no credibility, will only serve to lose us the next general election.

Others are certain that a Jeremy victory is really a win for Cameron and Osborne, but don't know who is the best alternative to vote for.

I am supporting Liz Kendall and will give her my first preference. But polling data is brutally clear: the big question is whether Andy Burnham or Yvette Cooper will face Jeremy in the final round of this election.

Andy can win. He can draw together support from across the party, motivated by his history of loyalty to the Labour movement, his passionate appeal for unity in fighting the Tories, and the findings of every poll of the general public in this campaign that he is best placed candidate to win the next general election.

Yvette, in contrast, would lose to Jeremy Corbyn and lose heavily. Evidence from data collected by all the campaigns – except (apparently) Yvette's own – shows this. All publicly available polling shows the same. If Andy drops out of the race, a large part of the broad coalition he attracts will vote for Jeremy. If Yvette is knocked out, her support firmly swings behind Andy.

We will all have our views about the different candidates, but the real choice for our country is between a Labour government and the ongoing rightwing agenda of the Tories.

I am in politics to make a real difference to the lives of my constituents. We are all in the Labour movement to get behind the beliefs that unite all in our party.

In the crucial choice we are making right now, I have no doubt that a vote for Jeremy would be the wrong choice – throwing away the next election, and with it hope for the next decade.

A vote for Yvette gets the same result – her defeat by Jeremy, and Jeremy's defeat to Cameron and Osborne.

In the crucial choice between Yvette and Andy, Andy will get my second preference so we can have the best hope of keeping the fight for our party alive, and the best hope for the future of our country too.

Tom Blenkinsop is the Labour MP for Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland