On Thursday, Lord Justice Leveson appeared before the Commons Select Committee of the Department of Culture, Media and Sport. This was broadcast live, and for one pundit known for not taking notes, and giving every impression that he doesn’t always even turn up to such occasions, this was clearly A Very Good Thing, as he had another tedious slice of knocking copy to churn out.
Harry Potter and the Gobshite of Arslikhan
Who might this be? Have a guess: “Sir Brian reacted as if he'd swallowed a cocktail stick... QUENTIN LETTS watches as a Tory has the temerity to grill the judge”. Yes, it’s Paul Dacre’s sketch-writing toady, the odious Quentin Letts (let’s not), who was not taking notes, but knows that the bad guys weren’t taking it seriously, like he was (ho ho ho), while the good guys certainly were.
So Labour MP Ben Bradshaw, who has not been totally opposed to properly independent press regulation, was accused of “laughing” at Leveson’s asides, and that he “gazed [at him] with crinkly-eyed rapture”, which is Letts code for telling readers that Bradshaw is gay, which of course is always worth a sly dig, even though the Mail is not at all homophobic, oh no.
What else? “In the public seats, almost an entire row had been devoted to the Hacked Off lobby group. This lot chuckled, so superior in their appreciation of Sir B’s legalistic parries”. You weren’t there, were you, Quent? Had you been in the room, you would have been able to at least identify and then mention one or more of them. You can’t do that – you didn’t even bother to turn up.
And then there were the Tories, or as Quent knows them, His Own People. “Tracey Crouch (Chatham & Aylesford) and Conor Burns (Bournemouth W) quizzed the judge like clever counsel”. Conor Burns couldn’t quiz his way out of a paper bag. Didn’t anyone on the Tory side make any impression? Well, as everyone knew before Quent started writing his column, there was always Philip Davies.
Davies made his impression by the crude and ultimately futile device of trying to call Leveson a liar. Quent thought this a terribly good ploy, and declared it to be nothing more than “scepticism”. He ought to try that one on the Vagina Monologue and see how far it gets him, other than perilously close to the exit door. But this rambling diatribe does fulfil one function.
And that is to keep up the attack on independent press regulation by attacking anyone involved with it, whether that be Leveson, those MPs who may have supported it, the Hacked Off people whose campaign has been rather more effective than the press expected (the assumption that they’d fall flat on their faces wasn’t a good idea, chaps, was it now?), and any media outlet not in line with the Mail.
If only Quent could have been bothered to turn up. No change there, then.