Three party agreement on regulating the press


         We will need to study the small print of this late night agreement. Meanwhile I thought it would be useful to remind readers of some of the key calls made by all three main  parties agreeing, before we celebrate too much:

Joining the EEC

Joining the Exchange Rate Mechanism

Setting up an independent Central Bank to ensure “no more boom and bust”

Various United Nations military interventions

Climate change policies


  1. Brian Tomkinson
    March 18, 2013

    Add to your list tax, borrow, spend and waste. Not one of those parties is worth voting for.

  2. TGod
    March 18, 2013

    John you should have included the 2008 Climate Change Bill in your list. This was another expensive mistake voted through by virtually all MP’s at the time.

  3. Bishop Hill
    March 18, 2013

    You forgot the Climate Change Act.

  4. oldtimer
    March 18, 2013

    According to Guido Fawkes, under Schedule 4, Point 1 of both the government and opposition versions of the proposed Charter, blogs will become subject to the regulator. No doubt this is calculated to prevent embarrassing revelations, suppress debate and if all else fails unleash a wave of complaints against hostile bog sites so that they are inundated and crushed by the regulatory regime.

    This promises to be a black day for freedom of speech in this country – to rank alongside the proposed confiscation of depositors cash in Cypriot banks as a black day for trust in the banking system.

  5. Faustiesblog
    March 18, 2013

    … and:

    * “global warming” fanatacism,
    * “development aid”,
    * monetary “stimulus”, aka bank bailouts.

    Speaking of which, Osborne’s “protection” of account holders in Cyprus is a back-door bailout to a Eurozone bank.

    What’s more, let nobody be in any doubt that the purloining of savings in Cyprus will happen again. In fact, it has already happened here – Osborne seized “dormant” accounts to set up the Co-op.

    You might say that Osborne set the precedent and Cyprus is merely following suit. Why? Because our government got away with it.

    I’d like to ask you and your readers where is your personal line in the sand? At what point will you say “this far and no further, come what may”?

    Conservative MPs might like to ask themselves that question as they vote on press freedom.

    1. Denis Cooper
      March 18, 2013

      I don’t agree with what has been done about “dormant” accounts but at least if it is discovered that you had an account but it had got forgotten then the money can be retrieved.

      In the case of the accounts in Cyprus the depositors will never be able to retrieve whatever money is about to be docked by the government.

      Although they will get something in exchange, maybe bonds backed by the natural gas earnings according to one article I’ve seen.

  6. Jerry
    March 18, 2013

    I have no problem with an unregulated press (for that is what industry self regulation is) as long as the same is allowed for all other media forms -magazines, radio, TV and web.

    I also totally disagree with the scare stories that if the press is regulated by charter or statute it will stop the press from exposing wrong doing, the television industry is some of the most regulated mass media we have yet it was ITV that exposed Savile, it was the BBC who exposed WMD lies, it was TV that exposed care home and hospital abuse etc. (on the other hand it was the print media who exposed the private lives of celebrates etc. – ho-hum…). Yes I know the DT exposed the ‘MPs expenses scandal’ but that was simply because they were offered the files first, well actually, second as another broadsheet turned them down first, I’m sure had Ch4 News or even the BBC been offered the evidence they would have also run with it.

  7. lifelogic
    March 18, 2013

    Indeed when all the three main parties and the bureaucrats all agree it usually means we are heading over the cliff. In the interest of the state sector and politicians and against those of the public. I suppose they all will agree on compensation (just for the services and state sector) in the Cyprus bank theft by the EU too.

    They all agree on the renewable religion, AGW bogus science, enforced expensive energy, controlling bank bonuses, being anti landlord and segregating schools by religion, all totally mad and highly damaging too.

    They all seem to like wind energy, bus lanes, cash cow cameras, and trains and trams even though they often make little sense in the UK.

    They all seem to like paying the state sector (including pensions) 50% more than the private sector who carry them.

    1. lifelogic
      March 18, 2013

      Politician group think. Not only that but even when it is clear to all they were wrong (as with Major’s ERM) they still are unable to stop marching over the cliff and admit their mistake.

      Even after the cliff still no apology and they just go ahead with the EURO fiasco.

  8. Pat
    March 18, 2013

    One might add- passing the climate change act.

  9. lifelogic
    March 18, 2013

    The general rule is surely that if the satirically named Liberal Democrats, the BBC, the EU and the “Arts” industry lovies like it. Then is nearly always a bad idea. Like the absurd Tobin tax and the enforced “equality” industry.

  10. Man of Kent
    March 18, 2013

    Please add the ‘Climate Change Act ‘ to the list.

    I know there was a vote but it was an overwhelming majority in favour.

  11. Frank Fisher
    March 18, 2013

    John, it’s all three parties, plus the BBC and Guardian. To be honest I’ll be surprised if they don’t all line up on the banks of the Thames this evening, throw their arms in the air and chant “HAIL SATAN!”

    This is bad news for news.

  12. Robert
    March 18, 2013

    Can you perhaps help with other charters/statutes that require a parliamentary 2/3rd majority to be repealed? Does this not go against the very idea of parliamentary sovereignty. And is it not frightening that the 2/3rd weapon is being used not for additional freedoms or rights but to muzzle the press. If this is a foretaste of what the Tory Bill of Rights will look like then let’s stick to the ECHR.

  13. Jeff
    March 18, 2013

    You forgot “passing the Climate Change Act”, possibly even more damaging to the UK’s population than the examples you give.

  14. Alte Fritz
    March 18, 2013

    This middle aged middle class anarchist fears that if the state can find a way to use a power for a purpose other than its ostensibly stated purpose, it will do so. Take terrorist surveillance used by education authorities as an example.

  15. sym
    March 18, 2013

    Yes, I too think it’s terrifying when all the parties reach agreement over something. It’s almost without fail something to their personal benefit and against the public interest.

  16. Andyvan
    March 18, 2013

    Evidence that politicians almost never get it right? I certainly can’t think of any shining examples of their brilliance but plenty of shady back room deals to pass dodgy legislation that only benefits the powerful. It almost gives you the idea that they’re not there to protect our interests but more likely their own.

  17. John Francis
    March 18, 2013

    Making the central bank independent was an EU requirement mandated by the Maastricht Treaty.

  18. James Matthews
    March 18, 2013

    When the main parties agree it is usually because they are conspiring against the electorate. That said, it is probably (slightly) better than statutory regulation, though it still has very little to do with protecting the innocent and a great deal to do with muzzeling the right wing press and protecting the rich, powerful and influential.

  19. Single Acts
    March 18, 2013

    Might I add

    NHS ~ Staffordshire and all

    State schools ~ so good they (leading politicians) don’t use them

    Fiat currency ~ the market will be taking care of that soon enough

  20. forthurst
    March 18, 2013

    The existence of UKIP is a continuing reminder that the consensus of the three main parties is congenial only to the ‘metropolitan elite’ and rebarbative to English people who do not wish to suffer from engineered third world immigration and be prevented from venting their true feelings by thoughtcrime laws designed specifically to shut them up; if you do not shut up, you are liable to be detained without trial for sixteen months at least and habeus corpus would not appear able to protect you. The consensus of the three mains parties is a conspiracy against the people they are elected to serve; it is not in any way a co-incidence that none of the leaders of the three main parties comes within my classification of Englishman; their loyalties are not congruent with our’s.

    1. Bob
      March 18, 2013

      A future UKIP led Parliament cannot be bound by prior legislative provisions of earlier Parliaments.

  21. Demetrius
    March 18, 2013

    Covering the growing gap between expenditure and revenue by continuing to increase borrowing?

  22. Peter Holttum
    March 18, 2013

    John, Dead right. Its scary! Never thought I’d lived to see the day the govt tried to muzzle the press – especially when the excesses of the past could have been prevented by existing law enforcement. Actually the govt’s own spin machines have encouraged the press for their own cynical voter manipulation – be it new labour or Cameron party. The mania for third party regulators is ludicrous – given their manifest lack of success at Financial Services, Pension, Bank of England, NHS, Utility pricing, supermarket regulation etc etc. More top jobs for the trough brigade. And this on top of the plans for secret courts. The bad guys will only be stopped by using the rule of law and making it available to the ordinary citizen. That is why I voted against EU in 1974 – not because I am anti European, far from it, but because EU is an executive without challenge from meaningful legislature, or federal courts where anyone can challenge as in USA, Australia etc and other federal countries.

  23. alastair harris
    March 18, 2013

    Parliament has no place in regulating the press. This is a bad day for democracy.

  24. stred
    March 18, 2013

    The most insidious proposal for press regulation is that sources have to be approved and exposed. If a civil servant or police officer wishes to expose wrong doing, incompetence and waste they will no longer feel safe. The Police will be able to obtain an order to force journalists to expose sources. Of course, to receive payment would be unacceptable. Police have already been silenced, even if not paid.

    When I raised this last week, some uninformed twit asked for my sources and assumed I had none. The proposals have been reported in numerous articles. Try ‘ipolitics.canada’.

  25. cosmic
    March 18, 2013

    I’d add the Climate Change Act 2008 to your list as at least as big a disaster as any of them.

    I’m not sure that there was a formal agreement, but there was near unanimity.

  26. nTropywins
    March 18, 2013

    They were all desperate to hang the Climate Change Act round the necks of their citizens too.

  27. REPay
    March 18, 2013

    Some mediocre is only happy when it agrees with the majority, other medicore minds are only happy in the minority, the great mind is only happy thinking.

    Sorry my mediocre mind forgets the source!

  28. Alan
    March 18, 2013

    In my opinion:

    Joining the EU was good, and continuing to be a member will be better;

    Joining the euro would have forced us to run our economy more carefully: it is a pity we run it so badly that we could not even join;

    An independent central bank has made it (slightly) more difficult for the government to conceal from us its manipulations of the economy to its electoral advantage;

    It’s good that we are prepared to play our part in running the world, and providing military forces needed by the UN is part of that. As a member of the Security Council we have a particular responsibility to provide military forces when requested.

    On this basis, although I must admit even I cannot see much logical connection, I conclude that legislation to inhibit irresponsible behaviour by newspapers must be a good thing.

    1. Denis Cooper
      March 18, 2013

      Of course we could have joined the euro; countries were allowed to join the euro even though it was perfectly obvious at the time that they shouldn’t be allowed to join, and we were much closer to properly satisfying the Maastricht criteria than most of those that did join.

    2. cosmic
      March 18, 2013

      As for the Euro, the ERM was a sobering experience and the way the economy took off after was instructive. That’s largely what made it unpalatable.

      In view of the present travails, you’re definitely flogging a dead horse there.

      As for it making us run the economy more carefully, that theory hasn’t worked for the PIIGS.

  29. Disaffected
    March 18, 2013

    How many quangos failures does it take for Cameron, Letwin and Osborne to realise they do not work? FSA banks crash 2008, FSA horse meat in food chain, NHS quango or inspectorate and so forth. ANyone held to account or had their pension destroyed? Instead of a bonfire of quangos we get more Czars not less. For his finale in office he gets rid of the freedom of the press, one of a long line of U-Turns, cast iron breakages. The Eu will be proud when it comes under its competence. The loony left is back in force and aided by the Tories, who would have thought it.

  30. Liz
    March 18, 2013

    The truly shocking thing is how many MPs want regulation of the Press backed up by statute -i.e. state censorship of the Press. I did not expect much else from Ed Miliband or Nick Clegg, and their parties, – both of whom seem mealy mouthed about democracy and a free Press at times but I did expect more from Conservative MPs. who should be passionate about a freedom and democracy – itseems some of tham back State regulation. Shackling the Press is one of the first steps to tyranny. It’s no use people banging on about our human rights if they support supressed by the State of our right to know. Since when did Hugh Grant become entitled to decide on Government matters and why do the TV stations fawn to him so?

    1. zorro
      March 18, 2013

      I would not be surprised if they voted for regulation by statute…….We are talking about MPs…..remind me what happened in 2009……something about expenses….I hope that enough have a conscience to vote for freedom.


  31. David M.
    March 18, 2013

    Let us not forget HS2. A time of austerity? People suffering? A lack of affordable housing? Small businesses cut off from credit and dying under red tape? Well, let’s spend a minimum of £38 billion on a train that gets to Birmingham 20 minutes quicker.

    1. lifelogic
      March 18, 2013

      Indeed they could save more than twenty minutes just with a simpler ticket scheme and less queues. Or doing the ticketing on the train.

      1. zorro
        March 18, 2013

        Indeed, all these fancy ticket dispensers which don’t work with your card. If they had a simpler, cheaper ticketing system, perhaps we could have cheaper fares…..


  32. uanime5
    March 18, 2013

    I suspect that Cameron pulled out of talks with other party leaders because he though he could force through his own scheme. When it became apparent that he would lose the vote and be publically humiliated the Conservatives agreed to something similar to Labour and the Lib Dem’s plan. So the press will be regulated by statute, just like broadcasters.

    1. zorro
      March 18, 2013

      I am really not surprised at all……He obviously got a taste for it when getting into bed with the Lib Dems.


      1. Bob
        March 18, 2013

        Those who lie down with dogs may wake up with fleas.

  33. Frank Upton
    March 18, 2013

    Also, fighting Hitler.

    Point taken, though.

    1. Single Acts
      March 19, 2013

      A glance through 1930’s politics suggests to me there was not three party agreement on fighting Hitler.

  34. Iain Gill
    March 18, 2013

    you forgot open doors immigration, uncapped ICT visas, infinite numbers from unrestricted numbers of EC states, handing out indefinite leave to remain visas like confetti simply for being in the country a while, flooding our schools with the children of work visa holders from countries which would not provide similar to Brits in their country, swamping our hospitals with the health tourists from around the world who often decide to get a work or student visa, or family visa to join a work or student visa holder, just as they need expensive treatment… and so on and so on

  35. Duncan
    March 18, 2013

    Worrisome – MOST worrisome. I wonder if the average Brit really understands what he is giving up by accepting what this will do to our heretofore relatively free press. I think not. Thin edge of the wedge friends, thin edge of the wedge.

    1. Denis Cooper
      March 18, 2013


      Off this topic, but apropos an earlier discussion.

      I have received a reply to the enquiry I emailed to the Bank of England.

      It reads:

      “Dear Mr Cooper

      Thank you for your email dated 12 March 2013, regarding Bank of England Articles of Association.

      I can confirm that the Bank, being a public sector institution wholly-owned by the government, does not have Articles of Association.

      Yours sincerely

      Andrew Doherty

      Public Information & Enquiries Group”

  36. lifelogic
    March 18, 2013

    I see it is reported the UK had no notice of the Bank mugging it would be interesting to see the list of people who placed bets against the stock market or moved money in Cyprus last week?

    I see Greg Clark is reassuring people in other areas. Is you going to give them a guarantee too? If so will that just be for the preferred over paid state sector employees again. I would get it moved if I had deposits in Italy, Spain, Portugal or even France myself.

  37. David Langley
    March 18, 2013

    Not three parties John more like three line whips.

  38. outsider
    March 18, 2013

    The partly leaders pat each other on the back for achieving ” independent self-regulation”. That phrase rather says it all. A contradiction in terms.

  39. matthu
    March 18, 2013

    Toby Young in The Telegraph today encapsulates most of what I would want to say here:

    There are several reasons why defenders of press freedom should oppose the compromise deal over Leveson that the three main parties have agreed.

    The first and most important point is that membership of the new regulatory system won’t be truly voluntary. Non-signatories will be liable to larger financial penalties if a court upholds a legal complaint against them – larger than they are at present and larger than they would be if they were signatories. That’s the “incentive” that’s supposed to encourage publishers to join without compelling them to do so. (It’s more like a whopping great stick.) But what if a publisher refuses to pay the fine on the grounds that it’s not fair that he should be penalised for not signing up to the new regulator? The answer is that he’ll be sent to jail – or, at the very least, have his trading license withdrawn. That’s not voluntary self-regulation.

    That means that whatever the details are of the new regulatory system, the fact that the Royal Charter enshrining that system can be changed by a two-thirds majority in Parliament effectively hands politicians control over the press.

    Two-thirds of MPs and Lords could decide the code isn’t strict enough and alter the Royal Charter to guarantee it’s made more so in any number of ways. For instance, they could insist that the code applying to our papers is compliant with some yet-to-be-drafted EU code of practice. (The EU is busy extending its tentacles into this area already.)

    And don’t think a two-thirds majority is out of reach for those who want to muzzle the press. Labour ended up with more than two-thirds of MPs after its landslide in 1997. In any case, if Parliament can pass an Act granting itself the power to change Royal Charters by a two-thirds majority, what’s to stop it passing another Act that lowers the threshold to a simple majority? Nothing, says Charles Walker MP, the Chair of the Commons Procedure Committee.

    For that reason, I hope that as many newspapers, magazines and websites as possible refuse to join the new regulatory system.

    Toby Young makes the EU connection i.e. we don’t yet know how far the EU wants to regulate the press and web sites (such as this and Guido and various climate related web sites that have criticised the government and the EU) but we do know that they are actively considering it.

    And now we know that all three major political parties are ready, willing and able to enact any directive likely to emanate from the EU.

    Who would have thought it?

  40. Richard1
    March 18, 2013

    I can’t understand why, for a second time, the concept of a qualified majority in Parliament is thought a sensible idea, at least by Conservative MPs. A key principle of our constitution is that Parliament cannot bind itself. This proposal seems to be doubly absurd – a qualified majority in both houses, meaning that at some future time every elected representative of the people in the House of Commons might want to change this charter (or get rid of it) but a minority of 1/3 of the house of lords could stop it! Or have I not understood the proposal correctly?

  41. zorro
    March 18, 2013

    Doubtless, there will be little to celebrate here……Anything which has the effect of silencing people from exposing wrongdoing, particularly of the powerful, should be rigorously opposed….


    1. zorro
      March 18, 2013

      It is the only thing which keeps the weaker brethren honest…..


  42. Electro-Kevin
    March 18, 2013

    This could be the final chapter in the Leftist coup which has beset Britain over the past 50 years.

    It has gone way beyond what is needed to prevent phone hacking (already covered by criminal law.)

    Who knows what is to come ?

    1. Max Dunbar
      March 18, 2013

      Watch what happens in Scotland.

  43. Michael Read
    March 18, 2013

    Weak. Weak. Weak. Cameron is losing political capital on every compromise.

    My only hope is to believe that the alternative is unappealing. He is, isn’t he?

  44. David Hope
    March 18, 2013

    There are no words I despise more than “we have all come together in the common good” and all similar phrases.

    It robs us of freedom and democracy when there is no choice, and the political class stitch things up

  45. Jon
    March 18, 2013

    Good blog JR. If the small print is not good then it will mean those with easy internet access will get unfettered news (not always good) and those without will be kept in ignorance.

    Why are we doing this? There was nothing there that couldn’t be handled by the police and the courts. Maybe somethings there needed to be made easier and quicker when it comes to an issue but not regulation.

  46. Vanessa
    March 18, 2013

    We, the people, were never asked and therefore never gave our consent to have our sovereignty subsumed into the EEC. (Not that we were told the truth then or now). You cannot govern without the consent of the people and you are so arrogant to think that you can. The tories took us into this “club” they will never take us out no matter how much it costs us. (How much is Cyprus going to cost British taxpayers compensating the military in Cyprus ? ) How much more are we taxpayers going to have to pay the EU for the pleasure of being a member? Isn’t it time we left and were able to negotiate our own Trade Agreements rather than waiting for our representative in the EU to do it for us ???

    March 18, 2013

    Dear Mr Redwood;

    Today was a very bad day for Press Freedom, and also for the political Right: The Left collaborated together and outmanoeuvred the Tories spectacularly in ensuring that we have a “Royal Charter with statutory underpinning”!! What is to stop a future Labour Government pushing through another law making it possible to change this “Royal Charter” with a Commons Majority of just one- and then voting through amendments to make it illegal for the Press to criticise MPs, public institutions, the EU or Public Sector workers?? The Right Wing Press would be muzzled so that only newspapers supportive of Left Wing (and Big State) ideals would remain in circulation.

    All this means that the Left have achieved a major step towards ensuring all media outlets (TV, radio, newspapers, websites, magazines) are as compliant as the BBC in towing the Labour Party line on fundamental issues. With electoral Constituency Boundaries to remain gerrymandered in Labour’s favour, making all media outlets provide suitable politically-correct propaganda (i.e “More Public Spending Is Good, the EU Is Fantastic”) will further help the Left to obtain- and then stay in power.

    I don’t think the Conservatives, far less UKIP- realise the enormity of what has happened- or to be precise, of what is happening. The political Left only believes in true Democracy when it suits them; when it does not they seek to control what the Voters hear about, they want the Electoral System gerrymandered in their favour, and why do you think Labour and the Liberal Democrats want State Funding for political Parties (is it not so that those Parties like UKIP who espouse un-PC views get deprived of funding, wither and die?)- and thus the Left are are very, very dangerous!

    Its time the Centre Right woke up and starting fighting fire with fire (and with a sense of urgency!);- Otherwise there will be no more centre-right governments in Britain but just decades of decline to Third World status under a series of Left Wing despots who- with control of the media and electoral system remain in power despite destroying the country. If you think this could not happen in Britain think of Argentina under Galteri, Chile under Pinochet- and other socialist regimes that have retained power in Latin America in recent decades: They succeeded in retaining power for decades because they muted their respective medias (and made them socialist propaganda outlets to brainwash their respective electorates) and starved opposition Parties of funding.

    Ian Pennell.

  48. Max Dunbar
    March 18, 2013

    An undiluted version of this press regulation will be adopted in Scotland which will suit the SNP very well in the run-up to the separation referendum in 2014 and beyond. We can expect that the regulations will encompass all forms of public debate here.

  49. Mark
    March 19, 2013

    I’m delighted to see you voted against this stitch-up.

  50. Steve Cox
    March 19, 2013

    John, you forgot these:



    High inflation

    The weakest pound possible

    Theft of savers’ money

  51. matthu
    March 19, 2013

    Last week we were told there was going to be a vote on press freedom in the HoC on Monday.

    Am I right in thinking that yesterday the three leaders (in connivance with Hacked Off)decided that a vote wasn’t really necessary anymore? Really?

    We want to know exactly which members support this sort of press regulation and don’t simply kowtow to an impending EU directive.

    Where is democracy?

  52. William Long
    March 19, 2013

    Yes, 45 years in the investment industry have taught me if nothing else, that when all commentators are sying the same the best thing to do is something different!

  53. Charlie the Chump
    March 19, 2013

    Exactly, be afraid, very afraid . . .

  54. Lindsay McDougall
    March 19, 2013

    There is a ‘long stop’ role for parliament in the new regulatory system that will control those newspapers and periodicals foolish enough to sign up to it. Hats off to the Spectator and Private Eye for being the first to say ‘No’. To rub it in, some of the MPs who were exposed by telegraph newspapers for fiddling their expenses, will have a role (however distant and however minor – for the time being) in regulating the press. Feeling comfortable? We shouldn’t be.

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