The hacks of Fleet Street are feeling betrayed by the politicians this week. Gone are the days when their boss was welcome at Number 10 through the back door. They can’t hack phones, buy senior cops a bottle of scotch at Christmas to keep them sweet or even take them out for the occasional slap up meal.
They have gone too far and the Press Complaints Commission failed to regulate and so the politicians have come to a cosy agreement for a new Royal Charter to regulate the press. That has to be good. Right? I suspect it will end up controlling the media in general and the whistle blowers will find it much harder to bring things to the attention of the public. We imagine that the Secret Intelligence Service is all about our secret agents swanning around with beautiful women drinking their vodka martinis, shaken and not stirred. In reality, they are tapping phones and listening for keywords in exotic languages that could be a clue as to where the next terrorist bomb will go off. They can go too far as well. In the past they have been guilty of tapping the phones of leading politicians, even the prime minister. Are we to have a Royal Charter to regulate the Secret Intelligence Service too?
This week saw the price set for Royal Mail shares at 330p and they seem to have been traded a much higher price already. Was Royal mail sold too cheaply? Many people seem to think so because the rich didn’t get the shares they hoped for. There will be lots of small investors owning just 227 shares each. That’s good right? Not too much power in the hands of one big investor. In reality, the power is still in the hands of the board and the government. There doesn’t seem to be any movement towards shareholder democracy any time soon.
The cost of living
The cost of living and energy prices have been in the news a lot this week too. It seems Ed Miliband at least recognises that ordinary people have a problem with fuel bills. I don’t see him coming up with a permanent solution though. The problem isn’t just fuel bills, he just jumped on an expedient opportunity to bash energy companies as they put up prices again. He also needs to understand that empire building by Labour Councils with their multi million pound libraries, iconic art galleries, leisure centres and other grandiose schemes have made council tax bills soar. The concept of economic, rather than fair rents has seen social housing rents soar too. Food prices have soared as money in the form of Quantitative Easing was pumped into the economy. At least QE was fair and even the increase in VAT on what are essentially luxuries was reasonably fair. Now we need VAT and other extras on energy scrapped. We need higher minimum wages so work really does pay. We need fair council tax, so members of parliament with their million pound mansions pay their fair share. 0.25% of the value of a property per year would be fair…
Meanwhile, here in the real world, it’s raining. It never seems to stop. Does it? I can’t say I blame some people for wanting to escape the British weather and go overseas for their holidays. We do need to restrict out travel though or climate change could mean your grandchildren will have a very unpleasant world to live in. I don’t care, I don’t have any kids. Do you care?
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- The secret state is just itching to gag the press | Jonathan Freedland (theguardian.com)
- Mr Cameron’s government is like a poor Thatcherite tribute band | Andrew Rawnsley (theguardian.com)
- Parties reach deal on press regulation system (theguardian.com)
- Hugh Grant: hacked off again at PM’s ‘betrayal’ of press victims (theweek.co.uk)