Alan Roden: Lock up MPs who threaten the free Press!
This week, I was in the House of Commons when I managed to get lost in the maze of corridors and found myself outside the parliament library.
I’ve been inside the room once before – it’s the kind of place where you stand open-mouthed as you take in the incredible history that’s recorded in the tomes which line sky-high bookshelves.
There’s a giant chest of drawers where you can read local newspapers from all over the country. Dozens and dozens of them.
Famous titles you’ve heard of like the London Evening Standard, the Manchester Evening News and the Liverpool Echo, and papers you’ve probably never heard of which report on local communities in the English shires, the Scottish Highlands or the Welsh valleys.
It’s a stark reminder of the incredible work of thousands of journalists to inform and entertain the people of Britain.
Here in Edinburgh, for nearly 150 years this proud paper has reported on the news in our city.
But last week, many Labour MPs conspired to shackle Britain’s free Press, putting the future of local papers at risk.
The proposal from deputy leader Tom Watson would have introduced Draconian costs and sanctions into the data protection regime, requiring publishers to pay all the claimants’ costs of legal actions brought against them as well as their own – win or lose. The sanctions would have impacted on 85 per cent of the local press, at a time when the industry is fighting for survival against online platforms.
It was a shameful move, which thankfully was scrapped at the last minute.
Every MP who still wants to muzzle our Press should be locked in the parliament library until they appreciate the work of Britain’s journalists.