Boris on Leveson – “if you want to keep clean the gutters of public life, you need a gutter press”

Boris Johnson speaks out on the Leveson reforms…and he is opposed, believing that only a gutter press can keep clean the gutters of public life:

When the moneymen are deciding where to do a deal, there is something more fundamental that brings them here – a feature of our culture and society that has been true for hundreds of years.

They know that London is about as uncorrupt as any jurisdiction on earth. They know that the deal will be honoured. They know that the law will be clear, and that their security to title is good. They know that they will not be tipped out of their hotel beds before breakfast and detained by the emanations of the state. They know that they will not be imprisoned without trial. They know that to do a deal in London, you don’t have to cut some minister in on the action, or employ their half-witted relative.

You cannot hope to win a contract in London by sending some public official a Rolex or a midnight poule de luxe; and that is because that official would be too amazed to accept, too honourable to accept, and above all too terrified to accept. British business, and British politics – and the nexus between business and politics – have been kept cleaner than in virtually all other countries because for centuries we have had a free press.You cannot hope to win a contract in London by sending some public official a Rolex or a midnight poule de luxe; and that is because that official would be too amazed to accept, too honourable to accept, and above all too terrified to accept. British business, and British politics – and the nexus between business and politics – have been kept cleaner than in virtually all other countries because for centuries we have had a free press. 

Many a government minister or indeed MPs have found out what happens when you attempt to hoodwink the press.

It was in the late 18th century that the libertine MP and Mayor of London John Wilkes had his epic battles with the governments of George III, and vindicated his right to publish his scabrous views of that government, as well as an idiotic and pornographic poem. It was in the following decades that London grew into the richest and most powerful city on earth – the first since imperial Rome to be home to a million souls.

There can be absolutely no doubt that this rise to commercial greatness was partly made possible by those freedoms won in the 18th century – an independent judiciary; habeas corpus; freedom of assembly; the right of voters to choose their representatives; and above all the freedom of the press to speak truth to power: to ridicule, to satirise – even to vilify – and to expose wrongdoing.

These freedoms were hard won, giving them up to government control risks many things.

Of course, not every businessperson or investor may personally relish the exuberance and ferocity of the British media. They may not enjoy reading about their salaries, yachts and subterranean swimming pools. But they also know – or should rationally accept – that it is the very boldness of the British press, and its refusal to be bullied or cowed, that makes those deals risk-free and helps them create the wealth they enjoy. Like any strong detergent, the work of the British media may cause a certain smarting of the eyes. But if you want to keep clean the gutters of public life, you need a gutter press.

Since the days of Wilkes, the media have been lifting up the big, flat rocks to let the daylight in on the creepy-crawlies; and in all that time we have never come close to the state licensing of newspapers.

Yes you do. Someone has to get down in the gutter to find out what the politicians are up to. To name names, and hold the powerful to account. Our media in New Zealand isn’t a shadow of what the media in the Uk are capable of.

Everyone wants to protect innocent members of the public from such bullying and abuse, and all would now accept that the old Press Complaints Commission was about as much use as a chocolate teapot.

Yes, as some of us have been saying since long before Leveson was even a twinkle in the PM’s eye, it would be a good thing if there was a beefed-up regulatory body that had the power to impose rapid and draconian fines and to demand apologies for the falsehoods and intrusions perpetrated by all contracting papers.

But if Parliament agrees to anything remotely approaching legislation, it will be handing politicians the tools they need to begin the job of cowing and even silencing the press; and what began by seeming in the public interest will end up eroding the freedoms of everyone in this country. It is a completely retrograde step, and will be viewed with bemusement by human rights organisations around the world.

The first step a dictator takes is controlling the free press.

All my life I have thought of Britain as a free country, a place that can look around the world with a certain moral self-confidence. How can we wag our fingers at Putin’s Russia, when we are about to propose exemplary and crippling fines on publications that do not sign up to the regulatory body? How could we have criticised the Venezuela of Hugo Chavez?

I wholly approve of the stance taken by my fellow Daily Telegraph columnist Fraser Nelson in refusing to sign up to any of it, and if I were editing The Spectator today, I hope I would do the same.

Leveson, Conroy…soon there will be some emboldened MP that will try the same in New Zealand. My pick is it will be Clare Curran.


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  • Boris Johnson is no protector of freedom of expression. Like most progressives, he is a hypocrite who attacks speech he considers “inappropriate”.

    Check the story below for how Johnson censored bus advertisments he considered “homophobic”. Afraid they would cost him his re-election.

    At heart Johnson is just another dirty little commie POS, and supported here by a cronyist progressive judge who puts trendy social “reform” before true justice.

    Mayor of London Boris Johnson’s decision to ban a Christian group’s controversial bus advert about gays was not unlawful, the High Court has ruled.

    Mrs Justice Lang ruled on Friday Johnson did not abuse his position as chairman of Transport for London (TfL) when he imposed the ban.

    Sitting at London’s High Court, Justice Lang ruled that TfL’s process in introducing the ban “was procedurally unfair, in breach of its own procedures and demonstrated a failure to consider the relevant issues”.

    But that was outweighed by factors against allowing the ad, including that it would “cause grave offence” to those who were gay and was perceived as homophobic, “thus increasing the risk of prejudice and homophobic attacks”, said the judge.

    The decision was a defeat for Core Issues Trust, a Christian charity that said Mr Johnson was “politically driven” when he intervened to block the ad, which suggests that gay people can be helped to “move out of homosexuality”.

    Paul Diamond, appearing for the charity, said the ban was imposed in April 2012, “very close” to the mayoral election on May 3, when Mr Johnson defeated political opponent Ken Livingstone.

    He said: “It was clearly a highly-charged issue, and the mayor took credit for the highly, politically-driven decision.

    • TomTom

      I think you ought to actually think about things from an opposing perspective and think about what follows on from what you say. For example, you say that Boris “censored” the advertisements because he was afraid of losing the next election/popular vote. That would imply that the majority of Londoners support the LGBT community and would be so offended to see those posters that they would boot out the hugely popular Mayor. Who uses those buses? You? Certainly not. What about pretty much most of those who live in London, the lot that you claimed that would vote Boris out? Erm, yeah. So, get over it. :P

      As for opposing perspectives. Would you find wide spread bus ads claiming “Christians are idiots” or something to that effect offensive? I would, because I believe one has the right to practice their religion in private without mockery. Well, the “ex-gay” is also offensive, if not more so.

      You’re a acting a bit like one of those tyrants out of the history books, for example Stalin. He wanted everyone to share the same exact beliefs, to suppress all diversity make us all one and the same. You want this (and other) country to conform to you idea of “conservatism”, to follow the tenets of your version of Christianity, you see socialists everywhere and you attack anyone who says differently from you. You’re as bad as the worst socialists of this world.

      PS: “Ex-gay” therapy is a load of bull, really. Do please look at this wiki article. Basically the first one listed there is flawed and the second one showed that a vast majority found it didn’t work, the next largest amount became abstinent (which is not that healthy if you have any sexual desires), and 2% “became” heterosexual.

      • “You’re a acting a bit like one of those tyrants out of the history books”

        You are a time wasting idiot who needs to learn to express his own thoughts rather than misrepresent the thoughts of others.

        Unlike the censoring little PC wimp Johnson, I support the the display of both sets of advertisments.

        So fuck off with you absurd muddled uninformed and irrational viewpoints. You’re just a drooling progressive moron, well educated in the doctrine of “diversity’ but uneducated in things that matter. Like comprehension, critical thought and self expression.

        You are part of the lost generations this country will need to bear until education is torn from the grasp of the left and once more begins to fulfill its real purpose of giving us truly educated graduates and not brainwashed drooling progressive idiots.

        (Why I bother responding to such worthless rambling shit is beyond me. I will have to get a grip.)

        • TomTom

          I wonder why I bother responding to stupid shite about the LGBT community, but then I realise I do quite like it, seeing people flounder for actual reasons to oppose equality other than their religion.

          Well, why do you act so offended every time Cam post something about marriage equality. You even screamed that he wasn’t a conservative and in one of your own post put him (and also others like JK) in the same sentence as Hitler! You claim to be alright with seeing both side of the coin but you’re not. You demonstrate your hypocrisy further because you also rant everytime Cam points out yet another flaw of the Catholic church and portray as him attacking the Church unfairly (The very same church that my family has been part of for generations.) And actually, I’d like to believe that I do possess the ability to comprehend and apply critical thinking to the things I read, and certainly I did apply them to your writings. (I do quite find your blog funny – it has sort of become an in-joke between me and some of my friends unfortunately) I became agnostic because I questioned the Church and I also questioned the faith – and I saw it was as likely as a teapot in orbit around Mars – one that you cannot see or prove it’s existence, but which it has an extensive book written about.

          I should also that you evidently don’t know one of the key rules of the internet – the person to mention Hitler loses. That’s why I compared you to Stalin :D Moreover, you can’t even reply to my points without constantly referring me to as PC or a socialist. I think I can easily and legitimately apply your paragraph “So fuck off with you absurd muddled uninformed and irrational
          viewpoints.” with a little change here and there to you.

          The fact is, the whole “ex-gay” shite is as offensive as trying to convince all African-Americans that they should bleach their skin and try to be white. It’s changing that something that is a fundamental part of someone’s being by convincing that someone that’s they’re going to hell or whatever if they don’t.

          And thank you so much for applying political labels to me when you don’t even know my political views. I dislike unions strongly, I think minimum wages are killing my opportunity to work while I study and I am generally conservative, expressed in my views that family with married parents is an important part of maintaining a stable society.

          • Mediaan

            If homosexuality is “a fundamental part of someone’s being”, how do you explain the increased numbers of homosexuals around?

          • TomTom

            Because, I don’t know, homosexuals have become accepted and now needn’t fear being killed or being committed to mental institutions (as happened even in the last century) You would have to be a dumb fuck to risk your life by publicly declaring your sexuality – and you should also think about the enormous population boom the human race has undergone since industrialisation.

        • TomTom

          Also, “You are part of the lost generations this country will need to bear
          until education is torn from the grasp of the left and once more begins
          to fulfill its real purpose- that is giving us truly educated graduates
          and not brainwashed drooling clod hopping idiots.”

          Guess what we younger generations think of you older lot? We think that you have run this country wrongly, got us into massive government debt, enjoyed the benefits of free tertiary education and living and then taking that away from us. You’ve had decades of cheap energy and cheap foodstuffs. You’ve encouraged development of cities that will turn out to be a bitch to get round even by car (who wants to spend an hour in traffic to get to work in the morning?!). Our generation may have had it easy in some ways, but we won’t in the future of dwindling resources and expensive energy – particularly so if global warming turns out to be in fact truth. And we won’t know for sure that global warming is real til you old fucks are all dead and my generation are in our 50’s and 60’s seeing the impact it has on our children and grandchildren.

          But hey, that’s the way it is. The generations after us will also hate us for our various wrong doings and we’ll hate them because they’re part of the next lot of “lost generations.”

          Until you can write paragraphs where you state a premise, follow it up with some form of evidence and concisely conclude that paragraph without inserting a stupid insult in it, you will never be able to have an adult conversation because you act/write like a child.

          • Mediaan

            How many times do I have to say it. Tertiary education only became “free” a few decades ago. My generation, an older one, took part-time jobs and studied part-time, or saved and studied alternately. If there weren’t jobs, we started small businesses.

            Some government money paid to the universities helped lower fees, but even then fees were still crippling for me. Then I needed money for weekly living costs, books and sundries. I worked and I paid for it.

            Those warped teachers who filled you up with this wah-wah entitlement rubbish, “they got it all free”, ought to be forced to start their training all over again. They don’t know what they are talking about.

            You extend your grudge to other parts of the privileged structure that was handed down to you. Power and food never seemed cheap. Living was never free, (until the current crop of Stupidaros started raising their kids on benefits rather than work).

          • TomTom

            Lol I don’t have a sense of entitlement, but I do resent idiots going on about how we are all somehow acting like we’re entitled to everything, when you lot are mostly from the generations that had access to free tertiary education and are the same generations that enabled whichever govt to remove that access.

            Moreover, I work my arse off each weekend, live on about 30 dollars for food (after rent, power and internet – about $1 a week for unlimited :D – is paid for) and I do not get an allowance nor do I expect any handouts from my dad.

            And I don’t think you can be qualified to talk about what goes on at school and uni since its evident its been a long time since for you. Lecturers have no fucking time to worry about our political beliefs. Neither did teachers at my schools. I went to a Catholic school anyways… The only time I’ve ever come into contact with unions was when I worked as an after school cleaner and some union rep came in to try and convince us to sign up – 50 cents an hour in return for a promised raise in pay of 50c which never came.

          • Mediaan

            I knew you went to a catholic school. I worked that out very easily from the resentful, “I got cheated”, cant. Pure Christian Brothers wordview, rammed into your head via Assistant-God-type claims of infallibility.

            Priests should be made to get a job and earn their way, same as the rest of us. And stop stealing from governments via planted civil servants who are loyal to the vatican, not the nation. And stop manipulating and breaking up families of non catholics, partly to make the church look good, partly to get access to children, for the (acknowledged) 6% of priests who are active child sexual abusers. And stop victimising the rest of society to suit the church.

            You haven’t understood (at all) that just about the whole amazingly comfortable structure around you, which gives you money and tuition and amenities, that you soak up greedily and whinge about, was built and handed on to you by people who paid for themselves.

      • Mediaan

        What about all the abusive insulting comments uttered in churches and by religionists about atheists? Do you find them offensive? Non-godders have been putting up with venomous belittling and social discrimination on a large scale for centuries. Is that offensive to you? For centuries people got tortured and killed if they didn’t agree with the verbal niceties of some bunch of self-appointed God Spokesmen. Offended?

        I am sick of being hammered with propaganda from several groups such as homosexuals. Especially as it has no logic.

        • TomTom

          That is offensive – you should note that I make the distinction between mocking someone’s religion and criticising one’s actions/speeches that is detrimental to others.

          I’m sick of propaganda and bullshit spread by clueless people who know nothing about homosexuality at all and will never bother to actually genuinely get to know a gay or a lesbian and therefore see us as human beings deserving of equal rights.

          Also, it just occured to me – how the fuck does Redbaiter manage to make everything about homosexuals on here? This was about Boris Johnson opposing the Leveson Inquiry – and he immediately launches into some tirade on Boris about a completely unrelated issue. Unhealthy obsession with an issue that doesn’t affect him, much?

          • Mediaan

            I know about homosexuals all right. I wouldn’t say I was ever friends with any though. I can think of some I feel deeply sorry for, because they are very sweet people who have been taken over.

            Screwed up little victims of torture and abuse who got expertly converted to it, against their family’s wishes, at a malleable age, most of them.

            Often created cynically by even more screwed up bunches of men who care about political power, not society’s good. Using military techniques of behaviour and thought change.

            You have a lot of living to do. Try to be your own man, and not just a Little Lord Echo for abusive thugs. Good luck in building yorself.

          • TomTom

            Lol. You sound like you’d qualify for a nice, quiet stay at an institution.

  • le sphincter

    Seems like some gutter journalist…at the BBC took Boris at his word… and took him down in a textbook fashion

    Some are saying hes singlehanded ended Boris ‘ change of being PM

    Hows this for openers !

    “‘You’re a pretty nasty piece of work, aren’t you?’ he asked a pop-eyed Mr Johnson.

    Youd think it was Simon Cowell on X factor not the BBC

    All of Boris lies deceits were all dredged up and did Boris squirm

    Mr Mair first asked about Mr Johnson’s sacking from the Times in the late 1980s for making up a quote before moving on to then Tory leader Michael Howard’s decision to sack Mr Johnson from his frontbench team in 2004 for failing to tell the truth about his affair with the journalist Petronella Wyatt.

    The presenter then brought up a notorious incident in 1990 when Mr Johnson was secretly recorded telling Old Etonian fraudster Darius Guppy that he would help him obtain the address of a journalist Mr Guppy wanted to have beaten up.

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  • Mediaan

    Simplistic, to attribute so much to the British press. British education turns out a better product. British culture has done pretty well in promoting mutual social acceptance between groups.
    However, Boris Johnson sure knows how to butter up the press. He needs their good opinion, for next election-time.

  • Ururoa

    We need the extremists, at all ends of the various spectrum, and the free press to elucidate their views. 150 years ago, women wanting the vote were extremists. 100 years ago, Maori challenges for return of stolen lands were extreme. 50 years ago, same-sex proponents were extremists (replace “extremists” with “terrorists” and you will get a more modern interpretation).

    It is only through the voice of those extremists, and the FREE PRESS that gives that voice an audience, that we can ever look to change and improve. Yes, that means we do have to put up with neo-Nazis, communists, racial bigots, pedophiie proponents and misogynists of all forms and creeds, but it is the price we pay. To argue for anything else is to say the status quo is the best it can ever be. We must always have a free, unregulated press (in all its forms, be it newspapers or blogs), to move forward.