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Democracy First, Press Freedom A Poor Second.

The  media, lead by the Daily Telegraph, have decided that Maria Miller, the Culture Secretary, must be removed from her post.

Is this about honesty, integrity, decency, any of those good things?

NO, IT IS ABOUT WINNING.

There is a war on between the media and politicians concerning press regulation. Elements of the press, fearful that they cannot win the debate fairly, are prepared to do anything (almost?) to stop the politicians having their way.

This is how the story about MPs expenses came about and has been sustained.

It is of course true that some MPs overcooked their expense claims. It happens in all walks on life - MPs are not special in that respect, simply human and fallible.

The question is: how important is the story? Well, the money involved wouldn't be enough to fill the potholes in the roads of Croydon -and those roads are bad BUT not that bad!

So it is not the amount of money involved that makes this a worthwhile story. Nor can it be that we genuinely expect MPs to be whiter-than-white. They earn decent middle-management salaries and are as likely or unlikely to misbehave as any person of that level. Remember your last work Christmas Party?

Those in the media are flawed themselves eg look at the demise of the News of the World. Why wouldn't they be - they are human.

It is the medias fallibility that necessitates press regulation. They can destroy reputations and lives with a few taps of their keyboards.They cannot have the freedom to do so.

Let's be clear. Many now will not enter politics, not because they don't trust themselves to fill out an accurate expense claim, but for the reason that they fear that every small human frailty they have ever shown may be exposed and lead to their -and their families-vilification.

So the media cannot be allowed to win this one. They cannot have the head of Maria Miller - and they cannot have the right to publish what they like.

Some say it is a free press that makes the UK special? It is not. If anything makes us special, it is our excellent form of democratic government,where the ballot-box brings changes without civil war. The press, like all of  us, have the opportunity to prosper under our democracy. They cannot be its master.

So Maria Miller can be sacked by Mr Cameron and removed by voters at the next election. The press should wait patiently for those possible outcomes, not manipulate to bring them about to suit their own ends.

Sunday, 6th April 2014

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