One can hardly blame Ivan “Sex Text Pest” Lewis for his negative feelings towards the tabloids. The Shadow Culture minister told Labour’s conference he wants to have licensed journalists, fall out of line and you’ll have your licence taken away:
As in other professions, the industry should consider whether people guilty of gross malpractice should be struck off.
That will be gross malpractice as defined by the same politicians who fought tooth and nail to cover up the expenses scandal that has seen many of them jailed. Guido is at a loss as to how Ivan imagines this regime might be enforced. Will unlicensed journalists be jailed for writing? Will newspapers be expected to operate a Hollywood-style Macarthy-era blacklist of writers who are banned? There are endless laws and treaties guaranteeing freedom of speech starting with Article 19 of the UN Declaration of Human Rights. It was Damian McBride that briefed his sordid story to the News of the World, maybe it is Labour’s attack dogs who should be licensed?
The chilling effect of politicians having oversight of newspapers is already very real. Tom Watson, the scourge of Rupert Murdoch, sits on the DCMS Select Committee. He is currently undergoing a messy break-up with his wife, partying hard and drinking quite heavily on the pull in London’s Soho night-after-night. This explains his new trendy look, slimmer figure and dressing like a teenager going clubbing. Late on Sunday he was wandering around outside the Labour Party secure zone the worse for wear strumming on a guitar. The press are far too wary to mention his behaviour – because of his position – do we really want that French-style politico-media culture? Where someone like Dominique Strauss-Kahn can get away with atrocious behaviour unreported? A free press is the only restraint on the powerful.