Newspaper article Manchester Evening News

Public Doesn't Want Law to Control Press

Newspaper article Manchester Evening News

Public Doesn't Want Law to Control Press

Article excerpt

HOW well do politicians really know their public? I'm not talking about the workaday constituency MPs; the backbenchers who genuinely spend time speaking to local residents and raising their concerns.

I'm thinking more of the great and good. The cabinet members and ministers, and their shadows, whose working lives are taking up - to a greater or lesser extent - with the 'national agenda' and life in the Westminster bubble.

Doubtless, many people go into politics with the best of intentions; they want to change the law in a way which helps others live better, more productive and happier lives.

But do their concerns match those of the people who elected them? Do they really know what they think and want? Does the chatter in the Parliamentary bars match that in pubs up and down the country? While you're considering that, you might also want to ask yourself: do MPs know what the public think of them? Outside of election time, how much do they really care? It's something I've been thinking about in the light of the Leveson report into the conduct of the press, published last week and debated by MPs yesterday.

Now I'm a journalist, who works in politics, so obviously have a vested interest. But I also like going to pubs; and I've never come across anyone else so much as talk about it.

The economy, jobs, the state of our hospitals and schools, immigration, Europe, the housing market, energy bills? I hear people chuntering on about those all the time.

The need for a statutory body to underpin an independent press regulator? Nope; never. And I doubt I ever will.

The MPs, however, like to talk about it. They like to talk about it a lot. And many of them - particularly on the Labour side - seem to believe the public are looking to them to save us all from some monstrous evil.

I daresay this isn't the case. I daresay the public, in as much as they care, want a press which doesn't break the law; a press which doesn't hack the phones of murder victims. …

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