Yesterday evening, the House of Lords voted through two amendments to the Data Protection Bill. Few outside the Press Establishment and the Westminster bubble will have noticed. But the votes, to effectively force the Government to proceed with Part 2 of the Leveson Inquiry, and commence Section 40 of the Crime and Courts Act, have also proved a superb means of flushing out press stooges in the Tory Party.
Matt Han ... er, you figure it out
The anguished howls of protest have already begun: the Murdoch goons at the Super Soaraway Currant Bun have given the matter top billing in today’s editorial, whining plaintively “Voters will be horrified if even more money is wasted on a press inquiry - and The Commons MUST kick it out”. Sadly, the credibility of the attack is sprayed up the wall when sham press regulator IPSO is lauded as “tough and effective”.
I’ve seen more “tough and effective” chocolate teapots. Also in the vanguard of pushing back on the Press Establishment’s behalf have been the perpetually thirsty Paul Staines and his rabble at the Guido Fawkes blog, blubbering “Unelected, unaccountable and unknown to the British reading public, a gang of press-hating peers last night forced a double defeat on the government which could pave the way for Leveson 2”.
Showing that Rebekah Brooks has her hand up Staines’ back, the Fawkes victimhood parade went on to moan “The peers, led by Baroness Hollins, effectively hijacked the Data Protection Bill, twisting consumer protection measures into yet another press-bashing free-for-all”. But The Great Guido missed something about Baroness Hollins.
Not pictured: Murdoch minion with hand up Gove's back
Carol Croft had not missed that something, as Dan Waddell pointed out: “Powerful speech by Baroness Hollins today about press criminality and data theft. They hacked her family and blagged her daughter's medical info after she had been stabbed”. Leveson 2 would delve into the murky world of press and Police collusion and corruption.
Tom Watson - not impressed with the minister
And who could object to unearthing that - or if there wasn’t any, as the Press Establishment would like us to believe, giving the Fourth Estate a clean bill of health? Ah well. That was where Culture Secretary Matt Hancock sold the pass, claiming “House of Lords have just voted to restrict press freedoms. This vote will undermine high quality journalism, fail to resolve challenges the media face and is a hammer blow to local press. We support a free press and will seek to overturn these amendments in the Commons”.
Won’t they think about the children, er, sorry, the “local press”? Hancock was lying though his teeth - never a good look for a Government minister - but yet worse, he was parroting the Press Establishment line. He’s supposed to be accountable to We The People, not a stooge for the billionaires who control most of the newspaper industry.
Brian Cathcart was on to this dead giveaway like a shot: “By this one tweet the new Culture Secretary defines himself as a puppet of Murdoch, Dacre & the Telegraph. Trust in journalism in this country is disastrously low. Everybody has an interest in higher standards. Only corrupt press companies and their puppets like the status quo”. Labour’s deputy leader Tom Watson added a reminder for Hancock: “Disappointing that the first act of the new Culture Secretary is to break a promise to the victims of phone hacking”.
They never bother to think about the victims, do they? And another Government minister in the pocket of the press, Michael “Oiky” Gove, was also not bothered about the little people that the press so gleefully trample upon on a daily basis: “Matt is absolutely right - free media is vital to democracy and local press should not be fettered in this way”. But then, Gove is the finest press advocate money can buy. And Rupert Murdoch has bought him.
Cathcart was as unimpressed with “Oiky” as he was with Hancock: “These are the words of Rupert Murdoch's favourite minister, who is doing the bidding of the owners of the Sun and the Mail. Freedom of expression is not at risk, but freedom to break the law to increase newspaper sales might just be”. Why mention the Mail as well as the Sun? Ah, but Gove’s Lady Macbeth-like wife Sarah “Vain” Vine is on the payroll at the Northcliffe House bunker. She has also been bought by the Press Establishment.
In any case, Hancock’s slavish sucking up to his true masters was not convincing anyone who already knew the nature of this particular beast: Match of the Day lead presenter Gary Lineker, who has been on the receiving end of more than his fair share of press abuse and intrusion, dismissed the claim with “Ah the old press freedom myth. The House of Lords have voted for press honesty, decency and some sort of code of conduct. Long overdue”.
Leveson Part 2, far from restricting press freedom, will shine a light on matters that those opposing it would rather not see the light of day. These include such creative news-gathering techniques as blagging (which is illegal), bin rifling, entrapment - the main reason that the Murdoch mafiosi are scared shitless, as it would lift the lid on the work of “fake sheikh” Mazher Mahmood - and all those private investigator dealings.
It would also bring into the spotlight the corrupt press-Police nexus exemplified by the continued efforts of both to frustrate the Daniel Morgan Panel inquiry. I am reliably informed that both the Metropolitan Police and the Murdoch empire have dug in their heels and tried their best to be obstructive to the Panel’s work.
As so often, it’s not about press freedom. It’s about irresponsible behaviour, corruption, dishonesty on an industrial scale, lawbreaking, and ultimately the little people who get ritually shat on, just so our free and fearless press can carry on as they always have - being a law unto only themselves, so they can flog a few more copies.
If they’re innocent, what have they got to fear of Leveson 2? The Press Establishment love to confront their targets with questions framed thus; now they can answer it themselves.