A micro-manifesto on press freedom for David Cameron

The excellent Times columnist Bill Emmott suggests today that people should stop looking to America for the defence of important human freedoms. President Obama and the US are mired in too many difficulties and bad policies to be able to do that right now. Britain’s David Cameron, Emmott says (£), should step up to the challenge.

He starts with freedom of expression:

“So the task of promoting Western values can and should fall to Britain, for 2011 will offer the opportunity to strengthen our democratic credentials.

The most quixotic, but still satisfying, way would be for David Cameron’s Government to speak out strongly against Hungary’s new media law, for if EU treaties truly were statements of principle Hungary ought now to be expelled. That would also require Italy, with its media firmly under the thumb of Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, to be kicked out, which is why it won’t happen. But it would be good for the Government and British pride to stand up in Europe for the freedom of the press.

Such a stance would be made more credible if, as spring approaches, the coalition’s draft Defamation Bill were to propose a serious reform of Britain’s libel laws, tackling at last our reputation as the favourite haunt of libel tourists, a place that offers legal succour to Russian bullies and sundry polluters. If, heaven forbid, America requests the extradition of Julian Assange, Britain can also boost its free-speech credentials by rebuffing it, for while we may disapprove of WikiLeaks’ publication of diplomatic cables, we should with Voltaire defend its right to do so, especially as that publication breaks no law in this country.”

Aside from wanting to add that Cameron might add a line about the very bad press law proposals in South Africa, I’d say that nails the important items very neatly.

Happy New Year.


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1 comment

  1. I wasn`t very pleased about the comments Mr Emmott made regarding Hungary.

    How dare the British, invaders of Iraq and Afghanistan, educate other member states of the EU on basic human rights?