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September 26, 2018updated 01 Oct 2018 1:30pm

Jeremy Corbyn tells Labour Conference free press in UK ‘has too often meant the freedom to spread lies and half-truths’

By Freddy Mayhew

Jeremy Corbyn quickly targeted the UK press in his speech at the Labour Party conference, claiming a free press in this country “has far too often meant the freedom to spread lies and half-truths and to smear the powerless, not take on the powerful”.

The Labour leader, who delivered his speech in Liverpool earlier today, spoke more broadly of the need to “protect the freedom of the press to challenge unaccountable power”.

He noted the plight of journalists from Myanmar, Turkey and Columbia who are “being imprisoned, harassed and sometimes killed by authoritarian governments and powerful corporate interests just for doing their job of trying to find out the truth of the oppression that happens in their societies”.

But he ramped up the anti-mainstream media rhetoric, popular with left-wingers, calling out to party supporters that they can “challenge their [the media’s] propaganda of privilege by using the mass media of the 21st Century: social media”.

Corbyn also reasserted Labour’s support for Leveson Two, which has been dropped by the Government. He said it was “something the last prime minister promised but failed to deliver”.

An amendment to the Data Protection Bill to push through Leveson Two ping-ponged between the House of Lords and the House of Commons before finally being defeated in May.

Corbyn laid out his policy ideas for the media in more detail last month in delivering the Alternative McTarggart Lecture at the Edinburgh TV Festival, reported by Press Gazette (including Corbyn’s full speech).

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There he said: “A free press is essential to our democracy, but much of our press isn’t very free at all… I want to see journalists and media workers set free to do their best work, not held back by billionaire owners or the by the state.”

The majority of the UK printed press is right-leaning, with the Guardian and the Mirror the only daily left-leaning titles.

Picture: Reuters/Hannah McKay

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