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Plutocracy: Self flagellation and cash blackholes

leveson inquiry

The bullshit train has returned to town, and this time its fuller of dung than ever before.

Three days ago saw Lord Justice Leveson publish his report following the public inquiry into the culture, practices and ethics of the British press. At over 1900 pages long, 470 witnesses interviewed and evidence from 135 different organisations, it easily grabs the crown as the king of inquiries and the longest and most thorough ever inquiry of its type.

The aim of the inquiry according to the Frequently Asked Questions page here was “… to draw recommendations, if any, for the future, with particular regards to press regulation, governance and other systems of oversight”

For the uninitiated, here’s a short and rough crash course: Journalists are generally cheeky and can sometiems be naughty. At other times they are just downright evil. A few years ago, it came to light than members of the british press had been involved in illegal accessing of voicemails belonging to other people. In other words they had “hacked” the phones of ordinary citizens and celebrities to try and illicitly obtain private information. This practice is a criminal offence (apparently if the voicemail has not yet been accessed then it is a criminal offence) and a number of celebrities began court actions against the newspapers for whom those journalists who hacked their phones were acting. What made it more gross is the journalists tried to hack phones of people who were missing and for example soldiers who had been killed in the course of duty in Iraq???? After a sting operation, and a court case, a lot more was uncovered, including evidence that the practice was rather widespread, and involved numerous newspapers. It was also surprisingly found that some police officers had been accomplices, providing private / classified information in exchange for monetary sums. Politicians too were in the mix, a few found to be rather too close with influential media moguls and their executives, some of whom owned the very same newspapers which stood accused of the illegal practices. All sounds like a plot from The Godfather right? I know, except it isn’t. It did actually happen, in Britain, in the 21st Century. Read more here. Or just watch Jon Stewarts summary of hackgate here.

Anyway, a certain British primine minister, named David Cameron, under whose premiership these wretched events took place hastily ordered a public inquiry following the furore from the Milly Dowler scandal, and Lord Justice Leveson was appointed to lead / chair it. Everybody agreed it was the appropriate thing to do.

The British Prime minister himself said it twice including on-air  on BBC1’s Andrew Marr programme in October that he would implement Leveson’s recommendations unless they were “bonkers”.

Yet after the publication of the inquiry’s recommendations 3 days ago, which included:-

–  A recommendation of a self-regulated press, just more independently so than is presently the case,  which the government would have no power over what they published.
–  a new press standards body to be created by the media industry, with a new code of conduct.
–  the new body to be backed by legislation, which would create a means to ensure the regulation was independent and effective and such an arrangement would provide the public with confidence that their complaints would be seriously dealt with and ensure the press are protected from interference by politicians or the authorities.

…there appears to be a change of tone in the upper echelons of the political establishment. The Prime minister seems to have made a very tactful L-turn, according to some, so as to avert incessant hostility from the press should he implement in full the recommendations, which would likely force the press to be more responsible and humane in their investigation activities.

The fiction goes something like … “he was not convinced that legislation underpinning self-regulation was right”. He hasn’t dismissed the report, not officially anyway, and no self respecting politicain would ever do, but it seems it will not be fully implemented yet…just not yet.

But wasn’t implementation of the findings of the inquiry the whole point of commissioning it in the first place? In that since self regulation had clearly failed, it was necessary to establish a structure (in legislation) that was abuse-proof (at least to an extent), and kept the press, their relationship with politicians and or the police in clear demarcated check?

Apparently not, or so it seems. Even though both the Liberal Democrats and Labour are calling for pretty much full implementation, and soon, Cameron thinks there’s still time to dilly dally about and have discussions across the political spectrum??

Probably to pick out which bits he likes, and leave out those he doesn’t like. To the extent he’s threatening to veto Leveson
In my view, it all dubiously sounds like “we will implement only what we like, and not what is acceptable to the majority of the population or those actually affected by the hacking scandal”. And I’m not alone, others think pretty much the same too.

This is what fans the flames of suggestions that something a lot more sinister is at play here, and its really all down to a game of dog and cat.

Predictably, many of the newspapers in the line of fire are elated, and have praiseed Mr Cameron’s clearly controversial position, to the much dissappointment of the hacking victims, some of whom think Leveson didn’t do enough.

Now, inquiries that have been commissioned at huge expense to the tax payer (this one costed at least £4 million), and never implemented for one reason or another are not new, and over the years the inhabitants of number 10 have commissioned quite a few such inquiries.
So this is beginning to look rather like just another addition to the list of cash blackholes that eat away tax payers money, especially if the government of the day is reluctant to punish the very same people who messed up, preferring instead to offer them an insanely liberal choice of self-flagellation, an exercise which under any scale couldn’t possibly be equitable?

Imagine pardoning a criminal who has committed a serious crime, in preference of some punishment they were at liberty to chose to perform on themselves? That is precisely what is happening here.



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