An honourable compromise

On the face of it, the deal struck between the three parties on the Royal Charter for the new Independent Press regulator looks like a reasonable compromise.

As far as I can tell the legal framework behind the bill is that there will be a three-line clause in an act of parliament, probably the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill, which will mean that the charter cannot be amended by ministers or the Privy Council without the consent of a two-thirds majority vote in the House of Commons.

The Labour and Lib/Dem parties say that means that the code has "statutory underpinning" but it doesn't on the face of it look like a measure which will make it easy to use the law to muzzle the press.

However, I am reminded of a very old saying: "The price of Liberty is eternal vigilance."

No government, regardless of what party they may come from or what I personally may think of them, can be trusted with the power to tell the press what to write. No population who wish to retain their freedom should allow any measure affecting control of the press by government to be enacted without the most intense scrutiny, even under a PM like David Cameron whose public statements suggest that he fully understands the need to avoid having politicians use the law to tell the press what to write.

Those who wish to continue living in a free country should pay the closest attention to how this charter, or anything else on this subject agreed by any government, works in practice.


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