Political correctness is supposed to be based on politeness and equality for all, but it doesn't really work out like that. It
turns out to be little more than a glorified pecking order system where those who shout loudest, or can drum up the most aggressive lynch mob, grab the best PC rules and everyone else can go to hell.
But the rules get a little difficult to rationalise and pin down when they run into officialdom. And the UK press censor had the unenviable task of adjudicating on terms used to characterise child abuse grooming gangs in the press.
A complaint was lodged by Sikh, Hindu and Pakistani-Christian groups, concerned about the liberal use of the word 'Asian' in the Sunday Mirror s investigation into child-grooming gangs in Telford. The Sunday Mirror spoke of 'epidemic levels of
child sexual exploitation' and 'that up to 1,000 girls, had been abused by Asian men'.
But the term Asian is far too broad and smears innocent communities, said the complainants. But IPSO rejected their complaint. The regulator ruled that it was not inaccurate to say the men were "mainly Asian". Nor did it give a
significantly misleading impression.
An article from Spiked comments that:
The media's use of Asian to describe grooming gangs not only masks the ethno-religious identity of the perpetrators -- it also throws Sikhs, Hindus, Pakistani-Christians and every other Asian under the bus. Gangs of Indian, Japanese and Korean
men are not rampaging across Britain's towns and cities, sexually abusing underage white girls. The men doing so are predominantly of Pakistani-Muslim heritage.
Of course the IPSO logic has to twist around the PC rule of the highest pecking order, that the word 'muslim' must never be attached to any wrong doing. Surely based on the totally reasonable logic that only a small proportion of muslims are
involved. But why then does IPSO rule that it is OK to use the word 'Asian' when only a small proportion of Asians are involved?
IPSO were on firmer ground when adjudicating on a related complaint. A complaint against The Sunday Times was upheld. IPSO ruled that the paper had published an inaccurate headline when it claimed that Asians make up 80% of child groomers. The
Muslim Council of Britain's Miqdaad Versi called for a correction to clarify that the 80% referred specifically to grooming gangs, not all child groomers.
Local newspaper editors from across the country have united to urge MPs not to join a disgraceful Labour-backed plot to
muzzle the Press.
Former party leader Ed Miliband and deputy leader Tom Watson are among opposition MPs seeking to hijack data protection legislation to introduce newspaper censorship..
MPs will vote tomorrow on proposed amendments to the Data Protection Bill that would force publishers refusing to join a state-recognised Press censor to pay the costs of claimants who bring court proceedings, even if their claims are defeated.
They would also lead to yet another inquiry into the media known as Leveson 2.
Former party leader Ed Miliband and deputy leader Tom Watson are among opposition MPs seeking a press censor.
Local newspaper editors warn today the completely unacceptable measures are an attack on Press freedom that would cause irreparable damage to the regional press.
Alan Edmunds, editorial director of Trinity Mirror Regionals, the country's largest publisher of regional and local papers, said:
We do not want our journalists facing the spectre of Leveson 2 when attempting to report on the activities of public figures, legitimately and in the public interest. Another huge inquiry would only embolden those who would rather keep
their activities hidden from scrutiny.
Maidenhead Advertiser editor Martin Trepte added:
The amendments represent an attack on Press freedom which is completely unacceptable in our society. As a point of principle, we stand united against these attacks on free speech and urge all MPs to do likewise by voting against all the
Ed Miliband served up an impassioned speech saying something along the lines of: 'think of the hacking victims', they deserve that the rest of British people should be denied the protection of a press so we can all suffer together.
But despite his best efforts, press freedom won the day and the Miliband's proposal to resuscitate the 2nd part of the Leveson report was defeated by a vote of 304 to 295. Tom Watson's amendment to withdraw natural justice from newspapers refusing
to sign up to a press censor was withdrawn after it became obvious that parliament was in no mood to support press censorship.
For the government
Culture Secretary, Matt Hancock said it was a great day for a free press.
On Tuesday, the Commons rejected yet another attempt to resurrect the £5.4million Leveson 2 inquiry into historic allegations against newspapers.
MPs were forced to act again on the issue after peers attempted to amend the Data Protection Bill, ignoring an earlier vote in the Commons last week. MPs have now voted twice to reject a backward-looking, disproportionate and costly Leveson 2
inquiry. Tuesday's vote passed by 12 votes -- 301 votes to 289 -- an even larger majority than last week.
Downing Street later urged the Lords to finally respect the wishes of the elected house. And the Lords seems to have responded.
A Tory peer who had just tried to resurrect plans for another multi-million-pound Press inquiry told his fellow plotters it was time to give up. Lord Attlee urged the Lords to abandon any more challenges.The peer, who was one of three Tories to
back a rebel amendment to the Data Protection Bill, said they should not seek to hold the legislation to ransom. He added:
We have had a good battle and now we have lost. We should not pursue it further. We should not hold a time-sensitive Bill to ransom in order to force the Government to change policy. In my opinion, that would be wrong.
Is it just me or is Matt Hancock just a little too keen to advocate ID checks just for the state to control 'screen time'. Are we sure that such snooping wouldn't be abused for other reasons of state control?
It's no secret the UK government has a vendetta against the internet and social media. Now, Matt Hancock, the secretary of
state for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) wants to push that further, and enforce screen time cutoffs for UK children on Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat.
Talking to the Sunday Times, Hancock explained that the negative impacts of social media need to be dealt with, and he laid out his idea for an age-verification system to apply more widely than just porn viewing.
He outlined that age-verification could be handled similarly to film classifications, with sites like YouTube being restricted to those over 18. The worrying thing, however, is his plans to create mandatory screen time cutoffs for all children.
Referencing the porn restrictions he said: People said 'How are you going to police that?' I said if you don't have it, we will take down your website in Britain. The end result is that the big porn sites are introducing this globally, so we are
leading the way.
Whenever politicians peak of 'balance' it inevitably means that the balance will soon swing from people's rights towards state control. Matt Hancock more or less announced further internet censorship in a speech at the Oxford Media Convention. He
Our schools and our curriculum have a valuable role to play so students can tell fact from fiction and think critically about the news that they read and watch.
But it is not easy for our children, or indeed for anyone who reads news online. Although we have robust mechanisms to address disinformation in the broadcast and press industries, this is simply not the case online.
Take the example of three different organisations posting a video online.
If a broadcaster published it on their on demand service, the content would be a matter for Ofcom.
If a newspaper posted it, it would be a matter for IPSO.
If an individual published it online, it would be untouched by media regulation.
Now I am passionate in my belief in a free and open Internet ....BUT... freedom does not mean the freedom to harm others. Freedom can only exist within a framework.
Digital platforms need to step up and play their part in establishing online rules and working for the benefit of the public that uses them.
We've seen some positive first steps from Google, Facebook and Twitter recently, but even tech companies recognise that more needs to be done.
We are looking at the legal liability that social media companies have for the content shared on their sites. Because it's a fact on the web that online platforms are no longer just passive hosts.
But this is not simply about applying publisher or broadcaster standards of liability to online platforms.
There are those who argue that every word on every platform should be the full legal responsibility of the platform. But then how could anyone ever let me post anything, even though I'm an extremely responsible adult?
This is new ground and we are exploring a range of ideas...
including where we can tighten current rules to tackle illegal content online...
and where platforms should still qualify for 'host' category protections.
We will strike the right balance between addressing issues with content online and allowing the digital economy to flourish.
This is part of the thinking behind our Digital Charter. We will work with publishers, tech companies, civil society and others to establish a new framework...
A change of heart of press censorship
It was only a few years ago when the government were all in favour of creating a press censor. However new fears such as Russian interference and fake news has turned the mainstream press into the champions of trustworthy news. And so previous
plans for a press censor have been put on hold. Hancock said in the Oxford speech:
Sustaining high quality journalism is a vital public policy goal. The scrutiny, the accountability, the uncovering of wrongs and the fuelling of debate is mission critical to a healthy democracy.
After all, journalists helped bring Stephen Lawrence's killers to justice and have given their lives reporting from places where many of us would fear to go.
And while I've not always enjoyed every article written about me, that's not what it's there for.
I tremble at the thought of a media regulated by the state in a time of malevolent forces in politics. Get this wrong and I fear for the future of our liberal democracy. We must get this right.
I want publications to be able to choose their own path, making decisions like how to make the most out of online advertising and whether to use paywalls. After all, it's your copy, it's your IP.
The removal of Google's 'first click free' policy has been a welcome move for the news sector. But I ask the question - if someone is protecting their intellectual property with a paywall, shouldn't that be promoted, not just neutral in the search
I've watched the industry grapple with the challenge of how to monetise content online, with different models of paywalls and subscriptions.
Some of these have been successful, and all of them have evolved over time. I've been interested in recent ideas to take this further and develop new subscription models for the industry.
Our job in Government is to provide the framework for a market that works, without state regulation of the press.
Over many centuries in Britain, our press has held the powerful to account and been free to report and investigate without fear or favour. These principles underpin our democracy and are integral to the freedom of our nation.
Today in a world of the Internet and clickbait, our press face critical challenges that threaten their livelihood and sustainability - with declining circulations and a changing media landscape.
Mr Speaker, it is in this context that we approach the Leveson Inquiry, which was set up seven years ago in 2011, and reported six years ago in 2012, in response to events over a decade ago.
The Leveson Inquiry was a diligent and thorough examination of the culture, practices and ethics of our press in response to illegal and improper press intrusion.
There were far too many cases of terrible behaviour and having met some of the victims, I understand the impact this had.
I want, from the start, to thank Sir Brian for his work.
The Inquiry lasted over a year and heard evidence from more than 300 people including journalists, editors and victims.
Three major police investigations examined a wide range of offences, and more than 40 people were convicted.
The Inquiry and investigations were comprehensive.
And since it was set up, the terms of reference for a Part 2 of the Inquiry have largely been met.
There have also been extensive reforms to policing practices and significant changes to press self-regulation.
IPSO has been established and now regulates 95% of national newspapers by circulation. It has taken significant steps to demonstrate its independence as a regulator.
And in 2016, Sir Joseph Pilling concluded that IPSO largely complied with Leveson's recommendations. There have been further improvements since and I hope more to come.
In November last year, IPSO introduced a new system of low-cost arbitration.
It has processed more than 40,000 complaints in its first three years of operation; and has ordered multiple front page corrections or clarifications.
Newspapers have also made improvements to their governance frameworks to improve internal controls, standards and compliance.
And one regulator, IMPRESS, has been recognised under the Royal Charter.
Extensive reforms to policing practices have been made.
The College of Policing has published a code of ethics and developed national guidance for police officers on how to engage with the press.
And reforms in the Policing and Crime Act have strengthened protections for police whistleblowers.
So it is clear that we have seen significant progress, from publications, from the police and also from the newly formed regulator.
And Mr Speaker, the media landscape today is markedly different from that which Sir Brian looked at in 2011.
The way we consume news has changed dramatically.
Newspaper circulation has fallen by around 30 per cent since the conclusion of the Leveson Inquiry.
And although digital circulation is rising, publishers are finding it much harder to generate revenue online.
In 2015, for every 100 pounds newspapers lost in print revenue they gained only 3 pounds in digital revenue.
Our local papers, in particular, are under severe pressure. Local papers help to bring together local voices and shine a light on important local issues - in communities, in courtrooms, in council chambers.
And as we devolve power further to local communities, they will become even more important.
And yet, over 200 local newspapers have closed since 2015, including two in my own constituency.
There are also new challenges, that were only in their infancy back in 2011.
We have seen the dramatic and continued rise of social media, which is largely unregulated.
And issues like clickbait, fake news, malicious disinformation and online abuse, which threaten high quality journalism.
A foundation of any successful democracy is a sound basis for democratic discourse. This is under threat from these new forces that require urgent attention.
These are today's challenges and this is where we need to focus.
Especially as over 48 million pounds was spent on the police investigations and the Inquiry.
During the consultation, 12% of direct respondents were in favour of reopening the Leveson Inquiry, with 66% against. We agree and that is the position that we set out in our Manifesto.
Sir Brian, who I thank for his service, agrees that the Inquiry should not proceed on the current terms of reference but believes that it should continue in an amended form.
We do not believe that reopening this costly and time-consuming public inquiry is the right way forward.
Considering all of the factors that I have outlined to the House today, I have informed Sir Brian that we will be formally closing the Inquiry.
But we will take action to safeguard the lifeblood of our democratic discourse, and tackle the challenges our media face today, not a decade ago.
During the consultation, we also found serious concerns that Section 40 of the Crime and Courts Act 2013 would exacerbate the problems the press face rather than solve them.
Respondents were worried that it would impose further financial burdens, especially on the local press.
One high profile figure put it very clearly. He said:
'Newspapers...are already operating in a tough environment. These proposals will make it tougher and add to the risk of self-censorship'.
'The threat of having to pay both sides' costs - no matter what the challenge - would have the effect of leaving journalists questioning every report that named an individual or included the most innocuous data about them.'
He went on to say that Section 40 risks 'damaging the future of a paper that you love' and that the impact will be to 'make it much more difficult for papers...to survive'.
These are not my words Mr Speaker, but the words of Alastair Campbell talking about the chilling threat of Section 40. [political content removed]
Only 7 per cent of direct respondents favoured full commencement of Section 40. By contrast, 79 per cent favoured full repeal.
Mr Speaker, we have decided not to commence Section 40 of the Crime and Courts Act 2013 and to seek repeal at the earliest opportunity.
Action is needed. Not based on what might have been needed years ago - but action now to address today's problems.
Our new Digital Charter sets out the overarching programme of work to agree norms and rules for the online world and put them into practice.
Under the Digital Charter, our Internet Safety Strategy is looking at online behaviour and we will firmly tackle the problems of online abuse.
And our review into the sustainability of high quality journalism will address concerns about the impact of the Internet on our news and media.
It will do this in a forward looking way, so we can respond to the challenges of today, not the challenges of yesterday.
Mr Speaker, the future of a vibrant press matters to us all.
There has been a huge public response to our consultation. I would like to thank every one of the 174,000 respondents as well as all those who signed petitions.
We have carefully considered all of the evidence we received. We have consulted widely, with regulators, publications and victims of press intrusion.
The world has changed since the Leveson Inquiry was established in 2011.
Since then we have seen seismic changes to the media landscape.
The work of the Leveson Inquiry, and the reforms since, have had a huge impact on public life. We thank Sir Brian Leveson for lending his dedication and expertise to the undertaking of this Inquiry.
At national and local levels, a press that can hold the powerful to account remains an essential component of our democracy.
Britain needs high-quality journalism to thrive in the new digital world.
We seek a press - a media - that is robust, and independently regulated. That reports without fear or favour.
The steps I have set out today will help give Britain a vibrant, independent and free press that holds the powerful to account and rises to the challenges of our times.
Max Mosley has launched a chilling new attack on Press freedom, with an extraordinary legal bid to scrub records of his notorious German-themed orgy from history.
The former Formula One boss also wants to restrict reporting on the £3.8million his family trust spends bankrolling the controversial Press regulator Impress.
He has taken legal action against a range of newspapers -- the Daily Mail, The Times, The Sun and at least one other national newspaper -- demanding they delete any references to his sadomasochistic sex party and never mention it again.
However, in a move that could have devastating consequences both for Press freedom and for historical records, Mr Mosley is now using data protection laws to try to force newspapers to erase any mention of it. He has also insisted that the
newspapers stop making references to the fact he bankrolls Impress -- the highly controversial, state-approved Press regulator.
Yesterday, MPs warned against data protection laws being used to trample Press freedoms. Conservative MP Bill Cash said:
The freedom of the Press is paramount and it would be perverse to allow historical records to be removed on the basis of data protection. If data protection can be used to wipe out historical records, then the consequences would be dramatic.
John Whittingdale, a Tory former Culture Secretary, said:
Data protection is an important principle for the protection of citizens. However, it must not be used to restrict the freedom of the Press.
In his action, the multimillionaire racing tycoon claimed that the Daily Mail's owner, Associated Newspapers, had breached data protection principles in 34 articles published since 2013 -- including many opinion pieces defending the freedom of the
Press. These principles are designed to stop companies from excessive processing of people's sensitive personal data or from holding on to people's details for longer than necessary, and come with exemptions for journalism that is in the
Theresa May has vowed to overturn a disgraceful bid by peers to muzzle the press.
The House of Lords yesterday voted to force the vast majority of papers - including the struggling local press - to pay all legal costs in data protection cases even if they win.
Peers voted by 211 votes to 200, a majority of only 11, to introduce the new legal fees costs on the media.
Critics have pointed out that it will hamper the media's ability to investigate wrongdoing and corruption as criminals could drag the press through expensive courts without having to pay a penny themselves.
The PM said:
I think that the impact of this vote would undermine high-quality journalism and a free press.
I think it would particularly have a negative impact on local newspapers, which are an important underpinning of our democracy.
I believe passionately in a free press. We want to have a free press that is able to hold politicians and others to account and we will certainly be looking to overturn this vote in the House of Commons.
The Lords also voted by 238 votes to 209 for a new probe effectively mirroring the second part of the Leveson inquiry. This also attempts to punish the press by denying them justice by making them pay regardless of the merits of the case.
New Culture Secretary Matt Hancock also weighed in against the lords saying that the proposed changes would be a hammer blow to the local press and made clear he would seek to overturn the changes in the elected House of Commons