State-Regulation of the British Press: So What?
By Sean Gabb
At the moment in England, our masters and their clients are discussing censorship of the newspaper press. After months of submissions, a government inquiry into newspaper conduct has finished, and its report will almost certainly call for what is called “a rule-based framework of regulation.” The surface argument is between those who want controls backed by the law, and those who want “voluntary self-regulation.” No one who matters, though, disputes that something must be done.
This means that something will be done. And this something will be formal censorship. Even if we start out with one of the minimal options, the desired end is plain. This is for newspapers to be brought under the same formal control as the broadcast media. They will be licensed. They will be subject to various forms of prior restraint. There will be review and complaints procedures for articles already published. The whole process will be managed by the usual ruling class apparatchiks, all on vast salaries, and all enforcing conformity to the usual totalitarian PC.
Now, I know that my duty as a libertarian is to start jumping up and down in defence of our free press. And I will go through the motions. We already have too many controls in this country on what can be published.
These are generally used to keep wrongdoing by the rich and powerful from the public eye – that, or to keep us from knowing the truth about the caring, sharing, multi-cultural paradise that is modern England. The effect of more control will be to block future exposure of fraud and bribe-taking by Members of Parliament. Oh – and there is the matter of those ruling class salaries and pensions.
I don’t know about you, but the great army in modern England of looters in suits – with their low-grade intellects and first-class connections, and their £400,000 salaries at my expense, and their endless public moralising about how everyone else should be made to live – they really get on my tits. Anything that means more for these, or more of these, gets my thumb straight in the down position.
This being said, how much difference will actual censorship make to the quality of investigation and news reporting in the newspapers? In a sense, the question answers itself. If it were likely to make no difference, why bother discussing it? If true, however, this answer is of limited value. I admit that, in the past few years, the newspapers have brought down scumbag after scumbag. The most recent example is Denis Macshane, a Labour MP and former Minister who was shown to have milked his expenses by about as much as many of his electors earn in a lifetime of toil. Then there was David Laws, forced to resign as a Minister when it came out that he was getting the taxpayers to underwrite his relationship with his boyfriend – I notice, by the way, he’s a Minister again. Or there was Liam Fox, also forced out of office when we learned about the very fishy dealings of his close friend.
Never mind whether The Sun newspaper hacked the mobile telephones of various entertainment celebrities – it strikes me as obvious that the purpose of “regulation” will be to stop future embarrassments like the cases given above.
And that’s about the limit of the value we get from the newspapers. I suppose they’re worth defending for that limited value. But it’s hardly worth rolling out long quotes from John Milton and John Stuart Mill. The cases given above are exceptions to the general rule, which is for the newspapers to collaborate in hiding – or simply never to notice – wrongdoing in high places. Look at these cases:
1. In 2007, the BBC announced that, following a meeting with 28 “top environmental scientists” they year before, it would no longer pretend to give balanced coverage of the debate on man-made climate change. Instead, it would become a naked propagandist for the global warming scam. No salaried newspaper reporter bothered to ask who these 28 experts were, and what were their scientific credentials. It took five years before an independent blogger, Tony Newbery, got round to putting in a Freedom of Information request for the names of these experts. When the BBC sent a team of lawyers into action to get a biased tribunal to slap this request down, it was another blogger, Maurizio Morabito (omnologos), who dug round the Web until he found the full list, and showed that these 28 experts were mostly the usual riders on the global warming bandwagon. It became plain that the BBC, which is “public service broadcaster” with a legal duty of impartiality, was up to its neck in a gigantic intellectual fraud.
After the event, Melanie Phillips wrote a nice article about all this in The Daily Mail. It would have been a nicer article, of course, if she and her friends had lifted so much as a finger of their own to expose the fraud.
2. Cyril Smith was a Liberal Party politician, and supposedly the fattest Member of Parliament in history. He was also a pederast with a taste for beating young boys. In 1991, I had dinner with a retired Special Branch officer. He told me how, in 1977, the Rochdale police had assembled a dossier of evidence against the MP – systematic abuse of homeless boys in a hostel he’d helped found. However, the man was Chief Liberal Whip at the time, and the Liberals were in an informal coalition with a minority Labour Government. My friend was given the job of driving up to Rochdale to confiscate the dossier, and tell the local police to mind their own business in future.
I thought this was very amusing, but only half believed it. The Internet was still in the future, and, however crass their actions, I still took it for granted that England was ruled by men of reasonably spotless integrity. Well, Cyril Smith died in 2010, and it came out that he really had been beating and – so far as his shape allowed – buggering every boy who fell into his clutches.
Not a peep, while he lived, in the mainstream media, of course. So much for the Fourth Estate of the Realm!
3. I suppose I should mention the Jimmy Savile scandal. But this has been done to death, and you need to be very American indeed not to have heard something about it. Again, though, it was pretty common knowledge that he was partial to underage girls. I heard about it when I was a schoolboy. He always looked like a dirty old man. Despite this, when he died in 2011, the newspaper press went into a chorus of his praises. It took a whole year for him to be demoted to his current – though temporary – status of most prolific sex offender in history.
More important, though, than the details of what Jimmy Savile might or might not have done in a caravan in Skegness c.1973 is what the sudden eruption of the scandal wiped from all the newspapers. Fringe organisations like the British National Party had long been pointing to a culture of sexual predation among Pakistani Moslems in the North of England. There were whole gangs of these people involved in the kidnap and rape of white working class girls. The police had ignored every complaint. Ditto local authorities. Anyone who complained too loudly was called a racist and threatened with formal or informal punishments. Finally, the scale of criminality reached a point where the authorities were forced to act. A series of trials in the first half of 2012 provided chapter and verse evidence about the real nature of race relations in England. This had to be reported by the newspapers and commented on by its appointed writers. They even had to report police claims that one murdered white girl had been disposed of
in a mincing machine and sold as doner kebabs.
Very convenient, don’t you think, that the stuttering discussion of race and immigration all this forced the authorities into allowing was immediately smothered by full spectrum coverage of the alleged crimes of the late Jimmy Savile?
I could go on. I believe that the transfer of Hong Kong was set in motion, back in 1982, by a few London banks that wanted privileged access to the China market. I could give you the names of the Cabinet Ministers who were bribed into beginning a transfer that no one in Peking had asked for. But they are still alive and very rich, so I won’t. I believe that William Hague was either bribed or blackmailed by the Americans into losing the 2001 general election to Labour – Tony Blair having been regarded as more reliably pro-American. I believe many other things. Just because I have no evidence for them doesn’t make them untrue. Just because some of them sound outlandish doesn’t make me mad. Bearing in mind what we know the newspapers haven’t reported, or have conspired to cover up, all of the above and much more beside is conceivably true.
Dr Sean Gabb is Director of the Libertarian Alliance. e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.orgFiled under: Opinion