Martin Horwood – House Notes
WITHIN hours of Lord Leveson's huge report being published, politicians and commentators sprang to judgement.
All favoured self-regulation of the press but disagreed over 'underpinning' it in law, the national tabloids having downed so many drinks in the last chance saloon they must now be legless.
David Cameron and most Tories lined up with many editors, fearing legislation would threaten centuries of press freedom.
Most Labour and Lib Dem MPs and the victims' Hacked Off campaign argued that all media existed within legal constraints already but we now needed to guarantee access to justice for maligned victims, even those who weren't celebrity millionaires.
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Expect much more debate on all this but note two interesting side-points: Leveson's plaudits for the good conduct of regional newspapers like the Echo, and the separate statements by Cameron and Clegg marking the most official chink yet in the armour of 'collective responsibility' by which ministers normally pretend to agree with each other on absolutely everything.
A positive constitutional innovation in my view.
Highlights of the week:
Monday: The PM reported back from meeting all 27 EU heads of government, who (shock) have so far failed to agree a long-term EU budget freeze. But important alliances were built with states like Germany who also favour budget restraint.
Tastier highlight: the British Curry Awards where Cheltenham's Spice Lodge triumphed to win best in the south west.
Wednesday: Published a cross-party report I'd co-authored into UKEF – the government body that backs UK exporters with finance and insurance. We highlighted UKEF's successful but narrow focus on aerospace, its low profile compared to competitors and weakness on human rights checks.
Thursday: Leveson generated all the hot air but arguably more important was Lib Dem Ed Davey's new energy bill to lock in long-term investment in low carbon energy.
Saturday: He's behind you Dick! Thigh-slapping, slapstick, gags and songs at the Everyman. Back again are strong leading team of Perry Lambert and Kelli Maybank, baddie Zara Ramm (booooo) and inspired dame William Elliott, backed this year by brilliantly bonkers Gifford Circus clown Tweedy. And an enormous... well, I won't spoil it.