The Daily Mail has condemned the Liberal Democrats’ election pledge of a “first amendment” guaranteeing a free press and accused The Guardian – which reported the news on its front page – of an “almost psychotic hatred of the commercially viable free press”.
Yesterday, the party set out plans for a legal right to protect journalists from state interference and end ministers appointing the heads of broadcasting regulators.
The Guardian said the Lib Dem general election manifesto will include the outlines of a proposed charter on press freedom, based on the United States first amendment.
The paper said the plan would mean that journalists would no longer have to rely solely upon article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights for the protection of freedom of expression.
The newspaper’s editorial today accused Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg (pictured, Reuters) of “posing as a champion of press freedom” and said: “The last thing any true freedom-lover wants is self-interested and often self-enriching MPs defining what is in the public interest.”
The Mail said in today’s newspaper: “Nick Clegg pledges a law offering special status to journalists and a public interest defence for responsible reporting.
“Forgive the Mail if we sound ungrateful – but no, thanks.”
It also accused Clegg, “whose stitch-up led to the disgraceful post-Leveson clampdown on newspapers”, of having “hardly a true liberal bone in his body”.
The Mail said: “How significant his latest idea was floated in The Guardian, whose ability to lose eye-watering sums of money is matched only by its almost psychotic hatred of the commercially viable free press.
“Frankly, this paper would rather take its chances in a world where we’re free to express views unapproved by the Left than enjoy privileges dictated by Mr Clegg.”
In addition to carrying the news of the Lib Dem’s ‘first amendment’ pledge on its front page yesterday, The Guardian’s editorial warned that the right-wing press’s treatment of Labour leader Ed Miliband would be intensified because “he is the one with the temerity to attack media phone-hacking abuses" and because he had “embraced the broad conclusions of the Leveson report on strengthened independent regulation”.
It said: “This is an act of defiance against media barons which has not been forgiven and not been forgotten – as Mr Miliband presumably always knew would be the case.
“The ideological antipathy towards Labour of parts of the press has old roots. But there is a special post-Leveson sharpness to it now. It cannot be understood except in the context of what Tim Bale, in a new book on the Miliband Labour party, describes as the rightwing press’s ‘determination to do whatever it took to prevent the election of a government committed to tougher press regulation’.”
The editorial added: “The antipathy on the right of the media spectrum towards Leveson’s threat to their autonomy remains visceral. Media treatment of Mr Miliband in the coming weeks will not be properly understood without an awareness of that. Politicians must be able to handle the blows that a free press chooses to inflict on them. But remember that some of those blows are being inflicted not just in the public interest but also to protect a very vested private interest too.”