The Levesen report has been subject to so much discussion in the media over the last few months that really the result was expected. The main recommendation was a new regulatory body backed by a legislative framework that would give it powers to impose new sanctions on newspapers. One aspect I would like to focus on is the ‘balls’ test that I think David Cameron has failed in the initial aftermath and reaction to the report.
Let me explain my ‘balls’ test. In every job and walk of life people are eventually presented with a scenario that offers them two choices. Do they do what’s right for them or do they do what’s right for the greater good. If you have ‘balls’ then you take the latter option. Unfortunately most people take the former, but with a publicly elected figure it is even more obvious when they take the selfish option.
David Cameron in his reaction to the Levesen Inquiry expressed “serious misgivings” about implementing the legal framework to validate the regulatory body. Without the changes in the law then the recommendations will not be any different to the current situation. I think most independent people would want this middle ground between self regulation and statutory regulation. Most newspaper figures want self regulation as it gives them greater freedom to publish whatever they want. Cameron is reliant on the newspapers support for him to win the next election, if he passes laws they disagree with then there’s a very good chance that the newspapers will go rouge.
This probably demonstrates that we don’t in fact have a free press at all. If anything we have a press that expresses the opinions of newspapers owners like Rupert Murdoch and Richard Desmond. Is it any wonder that the Daily Express (owned by Desmond) was the only newspaper to carry the last series Celebrity Big Brother news on its front page. Channel 5, which CLBB was on, is also owned by Desmond.
The issue is that Cameron has to keep them sweet if he wants a chance at reelection. But this goes back to my ‘balls’ test point. If Cameron had ‘balls’ he would implement the changes as in my view, having read large chunks of the report, they are logical and in the public interest. The fact Cameron has expressed this doubt suggests to me that he is thinking more of re-election rather than the general good. You can’t blame him really but great leaders and great politicians put aside their selfish gain. They do what’s right for the public despite the impact it may have on them. My hope is that Cameron will show stronger leadership in the coming months when considering the implementation of the proposals than he has in the reaction today.
By Jack Troup