Conservative Diary

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Ding dong! The report is dead. Report is dead. Report is dead. Ding dong! The wicked report is dead...

Screen shot 2012-11-30 at 07.15.03
By Paul Goodman
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...That, at any rate, is pretty much the unanimous verdict of Fleet Street this morning.  And it is hard to see why it should be wrong, at least as far as statutory regulation is concerned.

After all, statutory regulation needs a statute.  Which means that the Government would have to introduce one.

And however many separate Commons statements Nick Clegg makes (we look forward to John Bercow, who approved the innovation, allowing his deputies simultaneously to chair proceedings), the LibDem leader can't introduce a Government bill.  Only David Cameron can.

As long, that is, as the Prime Minister continues to control his Cabinet on this issue - which he surely will, with Michael Gove and William Hague and Eric Pickles and Owen Paterson and other senior Conservatives stoutly, staunchly opposed to statutory regulation.

The Daily Mail applauds Mr Cameron.  (He should make the most of it while it lasts.)  The Guardian reports the cries and alarums of Hacked Off.  The Telegraph reports stark stating bonkers Leveson proposals plans to end police off-the record briefings.

Hugo Rifkind points out the obvious behind the Times paywall: that the judge's plan would leave the net free but the papers in chains - great for ConservativeHome, as I pointed out a few days ago, not so great for journalists and readers generally.

It's true that the Prime Minister hasn't actually ruled out legislation.  Indeed, he is to order the drafting of a regulation bill - "but his allies said it was just to prove 'how complicated it was' ", in the words of the Financial Times.

It is all turning out much as predicted.  Some of Leveson will doubtless be implemented.  A new independent press regulation body will be formed.

But the key recommendation of the report looks as though it is heading for the circular filing cabinet.  Will press gratitude to Mr Cameron last?  In your dreams, Prime Minister...


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