Miller Brought Down by the People, Not a Press Witch-Hunt; MEDIA ANALYSIS

The Evening Standard (London, England), April 9, 2014 | Go to article overview

Miller Brought Down by the People, Not a Press Witch-Hunt; MEDIA ANALYSIS


Byline: Roy Greenslade

MARIA Miller inevitably had to go. What was baffling was that she and David Cameron dared for so long to ignore public opinion.

She was so obviously damaged goods, so the Prime Minister's investment of political capital in support of her showed a lamentable lack of judgment. He was stating the obvious when he said that he -- not the press, not the people -- decides who should be in his Cabinet. In so doing, he seemed to forget that it is the people who decide whether he should even have the right to form a Cabinet.

Leave aside for a moment the controversial catalogue of mis-steps since it was revealed Miller had claimed parliamentary expenses for the mortgage and upkeep of a house in Wimbledon, where her parents lived. They included her unhelpfulness towards the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards, Kathryn Hudson, and her rudeness in making a 32-second apology to fellow MPs.

Let's consider instead her record since she was appointed Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport in December 2012. (She had a second role as Minister for Women and Equalities, and I have no quibble with that).

In her culture and media post, her first and greatest task was to deal with the post-Leveson fallout by deciding how to deal with creating a new press regulator. In fact, Cameron preferred to give that job to his Cabinet Office minister, Oliver Letwin. It was he, not Miller, who came up with the Royal Charter idea to underpin regulation. People who attended the early meetings about that said Miller's input was marginal.

Once the charter was in place and most newspaper publishers had rejected the idea by setting up their own body, the Independent Press Standards Organisation, Miller appeared on TV and, in an infelicitous interview with Andrew Marr, was lured into admitting that the charter was redundant. …

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