“All of the great leaders have had one characteristic in common: it was the willingness to confront unequivocally the major anxiety of their people in their time. This, and not much else, is the essence of leadership” - J K Galbraith.
Cometh the hour, perhaps?
When Harriet Harman, a politician that pundits underestimate at their peril, addressed the Hacked Off lobby event at the House of Commons in late February, not all were certain that Labour would, if returned to power, follow through on the commitment to implement the recommendations made by Lord Justice Leveson, and formalised in the Royal Charter on press self-regulation. Today they can be certain.
As I told last week, “Right now, more and more people are anxious that their Government should be run by those they elect, to do what they have been elected to do, and not constantly swayed by the dictates of unelected billionaires whose main priorities are self-interest and flogging a few more papers”. This is, increasingly, the major anxiety of more and more people in their time.
And, as I concluded, “Of the two potential Prime Ministerial choices, only Ed Miliband is capable of making that commitment. Cameron has already sold his soul in order to make his own Faustian pact. The decision to commit thus is in the Labour leader’s hands. Many who want their politicians to show leadership will hope that he chooses wisely”. At the time, there could be no certainty he would follow through - until today.
But now that the Labour manifesto has been launched, the assurance given by Ms Harman has been confirmed: “the concentration of media power in too few hands is damaging to our democracy. No one media owner should be able to exert undue influence on public opinion and policy makers. No media company should have so much power that those who run it believe themselves above the rule of law” it tells.
It goes on “We remain strongly committed to the implementation of the recommendations of the Leveson Inquiry. We expect the industry to establish a mechanism for independent self-regulation, which delivers proper redress for individuals, as set out in the Royal Charter, and agreed by all parties in Parliament”. And then comes the clincher.
“We made a promise to victims of the phone hacking scandal. We stand by that promise and will keep it”. Goodness! A political party making a promise and then committing to keep it? Whatever next! But seriously, that is a commitment the Tories are incapable of making - not when it is so dependant on the right-leaning press.
Many in and around the Hacked Off campaign may have been forgiven for, on occasion, wondering if the day the Leveson proposals were implemented would ever come. Now they, and those whose cause they championed, can see that it just might.
Believe it when I see it.
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