LETTER: Reject State control of press

Your letters
Your letters

What spectre does State control of the media conjure up? North Korea, perhaps, or Zimbawe?

Think again because our own Government intends that the UK press should be controlled, by a state-backed regulator. Why would they want that, unless they want to hide something? Just keep asking that question.

Voltaire gave us a good clue upon where to look for the motive force behind such a move, when he said, “If you want to know who (really) rules over you, ask yourself who, or what, are you not allowed to criticise.” Could big party donors have an interest perhaps?

The proposed new law seems to allow costs to be awarded against any newspaper, which does not sign up to the Government Regulator’s scheme, even if the newspaper has successfully defended a claim. That is the height of iniquity.

So again, what is it that the government doesn’t want us to know?

Sadly the press is already more risk averse (post Leveson) and this proposal is only going to drive investigative journalism further into retreat. State control of the press would not even be entertained by the US constitution and we don’t need it here. What would Richard Nixon have given for State regulation of the Washington Post?

What do our MPs think about this, how did they vote on the proposed legislation and what will they do now to counter this drive towards George Orwell’s 1984? Perhaps they want cover against exposure for inadequate performance, or possible wrongdoing. Perhaps some are still sore about the parliamentary expenses scandal.

Why are so many MPs silent on the issue and on the ECJ (European Court of Justice) 2001 ruling, that the EU can lawfully suppress political criticism of its institutions and of leading figures? Perhaps that was one of the future EU reforms that Remainer MPs had in mind, when they backed the Remain campaign.

Many voters are already unhappy with decisions made behind closed doors and may want to insist that their MPs and councillors stand up for transparency and freedom of speech and of the press. We might then retain some ability to hold politicians to account.

Thomas Jefferson said, “When government fears the people, there is liberty. When the people fear government, there is tyranny.” This proposal will leave MPs less fearful and their constituents more so.

So the proposed legislation needs to be kicked into the long grass soon and we all need to urge our MPs to see that it is. That would be an important step on the road back to transparent government for the people – rather than to suit the convenience of politicians.

If they are not going to be accountable to us, then why bother to have elections?

Roger Arthur

Melrose Place, Storrington


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