Alex Massie

Kinnock’s Return!

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Given how roughly he was treated by the press it's not a surprise that Neil Kinnock still thirsts for revenge against tormentors. On the other hand, his appearance on the Today programme this morning when he called for the free press to be suppressed or otherwise outlawed demonstrated that, actually, the press was right to monster him all thos eyears ago.

Bagehot says all that needs to be said about Kinnock's ideas which can best be categorised as looopy when they're not sinister and vice versa. This, however, was a truly remarkable statement:

What [the rules] require is balance and I think that is all that anyone would possibly ask for in terms of freedom of expression… if we could have a balanced press without any form of public responsibility, that would be wonderful. What we have seen develop over the decades is a system of concentration of ownership, which has thrown into the real independence of the press...I would be the last to argue for any tightness of regulation...I would be very happy if we could ensure that there wasn’t a political predetermination to the extent of prejudice, that newspaper proprietors seek to infect others with, and secure deference to, we would live in a much freer country, of course we would.

Piffle. A "fairness doctrine" for the print media is one way to kill the newspaper industry once and for all. It takes some gall to argue that the suppression of views you consider unfair or inconvenient is the way to defend "freedom of expression" and yet this is what the old fool wants us to believe.

I don't suppose Ed Miliband would go nearly this far. Nevertheless I also fancy he'd like, instinctively, go rather further down this road than is either sensible or desirable.

First Maurice Glasman, now Neil Kinnock: Mr Miliband does seem to attract friends, supporters and advisors with any number of dreadful views. That's his right and they can say what they like and I don't think people should be exiled simply because they hold awkward or depressing views on a given subject. Someone may have plenty of sensible things to say about A,B and C while being bonkers about X and Y. Glasman and Kinnock, however, are a pretty gruesome tandem and I'm not sure that being associated with Kinnock, in particular, can do Miliband very much good.

Arguing for the suppression of the press, as the Welshman desires, is not likely to help the Labour leader. So carry on Kinnock!