Eilis O'Hanlon: Rare demonstration of political principle
David Cameron could have accepted Leveson and run for cover, but instead he took a stand
Published 02/12/2012 | 05:00
THE left wing commentariat can be shockingly unimaginative. When David Cameron came out strongly last week against political regulation of the press in the wake of the Leveson report into phone hacking, the immediate response of many was to scoff that he was only doing so because he was afraid of the media, or wanted the support of billionaire proprietors at the next election.
The idea that the British prime minister might have done so because he actually believed that political interference in a free press was dangerous and misguided never occurred to them; but actually what came through from Cameron's words last week was a stirring sense of absolute principle and conviction.
These were not the words of a man who has the press genuflecting at his feet, but a man who is the target of systematic abuse from the very press whose rights he was defending; a man who is pilloried regularly even in solid Tory newspapers like the Telegraph and the Mail. It would have been the easiest thing in the world to go down the populist route of pushing through an invasive system of press control. The public has been clamouring for it, outraged at the News of The World tapping the phones of murder victims and their families. The luvvies were in high dudgeon, and if there's one thing we have learned from the Jimmy Savile scandal, it's that celebrities are not to be trifled with, they're the new world superpower. Even the newspaper industry has joined in the cycle of hysteria, beating itself up mercilessly for its real and imagined sins.