Thursday, 29 November 2012

Leveson Final Report

David Cameron and Nick Clegg are at odds over today's final report by Lord Justice Leveson in a scenario which could set the battleground ahead of the next General Election.

I think this is a clear attempt by Nick Clegg to seize a march on David Cameron and signal the end of the internal cold-war which has seen the two leaders refrain from any major public policy disagreements.

His decision seems simple enough. The less-popular of the coalition partners, Clegg is attempting to tap in to perceived public disgust at the actions of the press and go against traditional liberal values in backing a statutory solution to upholding press regulation.

It's a dangerous move as for months now, newspapers such as the Daily Mail and The Sun have been running editorial against Leveson, and this could have resonated with some readers who will not want press freedom to be diminished.

There's also the danger of an accusation that this is a post-expenses opportunity for politicians to ensure the press don't embarrass them again - this is an angle which Clegg's detractors could well use against him and any other supporters of legislation.

For this reason I think the Prime Minister is sensible to welcome the findings but urge caution over protecting the freedom of the press . I believe this will protect him somewhat where Nick Clegg's motives will now be under more scrutiny and he faces yet another test of his leadership.

So while Nick Clegg has sounded the starting gun for the race to the next election, it could well prove to be a false start.

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