IPSO: A Great New Way for Bullies to Muzzle the Press

Censored concept

One of the fundamental principles of English common law is that you are innocent until proven guilty. And rightly so, for imagine how unfair it would be if any old loon with an axe to grind had only to lodge a trumped-up complaint with the relevant authorities in order to have you punished for no reason whatsoever.

Actually, though, this cruel and capricious system exists in Britain. It’s called the Independent Press Standards Organisation (Ipso) and, as might be expected of the bastard offspring of the Leveson inquiry, it’s doing an absolutely first-rate job of empowering bullies and curbing freedom of speech in order to assuage the spite of that small but vocal lobby of caught-red-handed luvvies, lefty agitators and failed hacks which thinks our press has got too big for its boots.

Not that you would necessarily guess this if you went to Ipso’s website. Its Editors’ Code of Practice seems reasonable enough (‘The Press must take care not to publish inaccurate, misleading or distorted information…’) and, scrolling down its list of rulings, what you find in the vast majority of cases is the phrase: ‘The complaint was not upheld.’ This would suggest that Ipso is both judicious and restrained.

Or so you’d think till you become the subject of one of its investigations. This happened to me recently. I can’t give you the exact details but suffice to say that I’d written something so uncontentious and easily verifiable that I might have written, ‘The sun rises in the east and sets in the west.’ Yet still, a political activist decided he had sufficient grounds to complain about this. And rather than tell him where to go — as five seconds on Google would have enabled their salaried and presumably time-rich staff to do — Ipso decided it was meet and right to make this imaginary problem my problem.

When I replied to their query with a link to a scientific website clearly showing that the sun does rise in the east and does set in the west, I thought that would be an end to it. But no. Mr Activist hit back with an even longer screed, vigorously disputing that the evidence I had provided said what I claimed it did, and demanding recourse.

‘Could we perhaps offer to remove these parts in the online version?’ suggested the newspaper’s readers’ editor diplomatically. ‘No!’ I said. ‘He’s trying it on and there’s a point of principle here. Correcting mistakes is one thing. But censoring stuff for the crime of being true? No way.’

Now, of course, I have every confidence that, when this issue is eventually resolved, Ipso will come to the only sensible conclusion. But by then it will be too late — for I will already have been forced to waste hours dealing with the kind of red-crayon complaint which, in more sensible times, would have been dealt with simply by allowing the ‘reader’ to present his case in the ‘letters to the editor’ section.

This is what Mark Steyn means when he says: ‘The process is the punishment.’ He’s referring to the far more onerous, costly and time-consuming legal case in the US that he is fighting with climate scientist Michael Mann, but when it comes to the way Ipso is being used the principle is much the same.

These activists needn’t care what Ipso’s eventual ruling is: by that stage they’ll have won regardless. Unlike in the law courts, they will have successfully intimidated and inconvenienced their enemies while incurring no financial risk. Not that money is a problem for them anyway because, quite often, making these complaints is what they are paid to do. Bob Ward, for example, a serial complainant who most recently brought an Ipso case against the Mail on Sunday for saying something he didn’t like about Arctic sea ice, has a lucrative job at the Grantham Institute, among whose raisons d’être is to make life impossible for climate sceptics.

For the journalists on the receiving end of this punishment by process, though, it’s a different story. Christopher Booker, for example, now sometimes finds himself wasting days on end fending off complaints brought by activists passing themselves off as concerned readers. One case cost him 12 solid days in lost work. He has the facts on his side and is confident of eventual victory. But even when Ipso finds in his favour, the hassle of making his defence (unpaid) will amount to the equivalent of a fine worth many hundreds of pounds.

Now, we all have our problems in this increasingly overregulated world, so I don’t expect you to shed too many tears for the plight of the freelance journalist. But what should definitely worry you about this use of Ipso is its effects on freedom of speech.

Consider Andrew Gilligan, the brave and brilliant scourge of Islamist skulduggery (from the Trojan Horse affair to Lutfur Rahman), who now has to set aside ‘a day or two’ each month just to deal with Ipso complaints. His newspaper, the Sunday Telegraph, is happy to build these costs into its reporting budget. But for some publications, the inconvenience and expense is so off-putting that they simply give up and pursue less obstreperous targets. These complaints wear people down and stop them reporting.

This is just the sort of thing that wiser heads warned would happen at the height of the Hacked Off hysteria. Weren’t Leveson’s recommendations supposed to protect us from bullies, rather than enable them?

From The Spectator

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Five Reasons Why the Conservatives Deserve to Lose the Next Election

The scale of the problem

Please: can someone stop his job being so ludicrously easy?

1. Cowardice. Whose bright idea was it to ban Nigel Farage from speaking at the Tory conference in Manchester? And what kind of signal does this send out to all those waverers in the party wondering whether or not to transfer the allegiances to UKIP?

“We’re so concerned that Nigel Farage might tell you stuff that you want to hear that we’ve decided not to let you hear it.”

2. Spinelessness. Remember all that talk about the importance of localism? Remember all those principled-sounding statements we’ve had from the likes of John Hayes and Eric Pickles that in future if communities don’t want wind turbines imposed on them then they won’t have to? Well, it seems all that has gone by the board. No doubt under combined pressure from all the energy companies (whose beneficiaries range from the deputy prime minister’s wife to the prime minister’s father in law) and the ideological greens at DECC, Cameron’s faux-conservatives have caved yet again. I’m told by planning experts that Eric Pickles’s vaunted amendments will make not the blindest bit of difference to communities trying to fight wind turbines. So this betrayal of their natural constituency in the shires will help the Conservatives how, exactly?

3. Dishonesty. Immigration, the Conservatives have twigged, is a key issue to many voters. Hence those crass, ugly billboards. Hence scary Immigration Minister Mark Harper’s tough-sounding statements about how the Coalition is really on top of the problem. Except as Andrew Gilligan revealed in yesterday’s Sunday Telegraph it’s all a nonsense. Our statistics on immigration are so unreliable as to be meaningless. I don’t know about you but I don’t like being taken for a fool by a party angling for my vote.

4. Cynicism. Much sense has been talked by those who understand the internet – among them, Mic Wright and Willard Foxton, both of this parish – about the illiberalism and counterproductivity of Cameron’s grandstanding crusade against all manner of online pornography. If it makes no sense, why is he doing it? Why out of a cynical attempt to win the approval of the leftist harpies at MumsNet, of course. Sorry but I’m old-fashioned enough to believe that government policy should be based on high principle and sound evidence, not on cheap, cynical bids to appeal to socialistic control freaks outside your natural constituency. But then, Dave does think of himself as the “heir to Blair” doesn’t he?

5. Incompetence. Do you know what, though? I think I could still forgive the Tories all of the above if they’d at least managed to do the one thing Tories are always supposed to be good at: undoing the economic mess created by the previous socialist administration.

But this “economic recovery” we’re allegedly experiencing is, like “green jobs”, a chimera. Liam Halligan doesn’t believe in it.

(Nor, suspects Rob Tyler, is it any different in the US.)

And no, this isn’t just a cyclical thing or a world-economy thing. It’s a direct consequence of Cameron’s and Osborne’s failure to acknowledge the scale of the problem and deal with it.

The framework required to support meaningful growth is simply not there. We are still spending beyond our means, the national debt is still ruinous, we still have a massive balance of trade deficit, and the government seems in no hurry to do anything about it. A wrecking ball should have been taken to New Labour’s policies by now, given that they’re largely responsible for the mess we’re in. Instead, David Cameron is like a man who’s been put in charge of the family Christmas and doesn’t want to upset the old’uns by changing too much. Apart from walnuts in the sprouts and a new board game for after dinner, it’s the same as it ever was.

Related posts:

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  2. Nigel Farage – the only politician who dares say what we’re thinking
  3. Unless the Conservatives come clean about the energy mess they created, they will never deserve our vote
  4. Should Morrissey join Ukip?

2 thoughts on “Five reasons why the Conservatives deserve to lose the next election”

  1. rtj1211 says:7th August 2013 at 7:27 pmThe biggest problem most politicians have is that they won’t tell hysterical protestors that they’re, on this issue, if not in life in general, in need of being sectioned for the safety of society. Years of Animal Rights, kibosh Bridgenorth Power Station, no tracking, no this, no that: sometimes you JUST HAVE TO DECIDE. The odds are stacked against the honest politician, because the aim of the media is to inflame, not to support good decisions. The aim of the ueber rich is to install incompetent blackmailable leaders and as we all know, the media is their domain, isn’t it?The second biggest problem is that those who won’t suffer near armageddon are fairly comfortable with sweeping everything away. They wouldn’t be if their children weren’t getting fed, the bills were months late, their jobs were all gone and their dignity destroyed. I only respect calls for radical destruction by those who will suffer with everyone else. I”ve never read anything by anyone to say that anyone is either that brave, stupid or selfish (if they have kids). It’s always the rich who call for the poor to suffer. If they called for themselves to suffer just one little bit, people might listen to them. HS2? NIMBY city. Windmills? NIMBY city. Fracking in Sussex? NIMBY city. The list is endless. Go try poverty: you’d soon be less radical….The third biggest problem is political parties. They are the home for the never-had-a-job-in-the-real-world SPADs. How can you POSSIBLY know how to run the country across three or four generations if you’ve never worked for one generation in the real world?? This is not the 19th century and the British Empire. This is globalised Britain, tied to the EU as one harridan parent and the USA as the other. What’s needed is the Harry Houdini escapology to escape both without being trafficked by other evil monsters. If you really are so much of a swivel-eyed loon as to see America as solely a force for good in the world, then you really do need to grow up. America is 1984 imposed on the world: a global spying behemoth, stealing the world’s assets without mercy whilst retaining a constitution it hasn’t upheld since 1945. A country infested with organised criminality and an out-of-control military-industrial complex and investment banking system. It can still come good, but the odds are on it becoming a fascist dictatorship. It’s about time you saw America’s dark side, instead of staying fantasised by Hollywood’s misdirection. It might be better if we ditched English as the formal language: then America wouldn’t be so obsessed with us. They don’t seem quite so obsessed with Norway or Switzerland, do they?? They need to see a shrink and forget about the War of Independence. None of us over here had anything to do with it and we’re sick and tired of their slave-owners demeanour to the UK. We have contempt for the way they dealt with Katrina. Contempt. Their city governance is a shambles and most of them are about to go bust. Wall Street is organised mafia and no-one has the power to stop it. There is no value whatever added to the economy by Wall Street. Nothing it does couldn’t be done as well, if not better, by 50 Warren Buffett-like folks, one in each state, in terms of investment decisions. All the speculation would be got rid of and ordinary folks on Main Street could safely deposit their savings in thrifts again, without fear of getting raped by descendents of Solly Brothers and the other Wall Street Crime Families who carried out heists that make Fort Knox look like a stroll in the Park……..and are lionized for having done so.Agree with you about UKIP, however a twit today has probably given Nigel Farage more media time than he’s had in weeks. All he needs next is a joint announcement of Boris’ latest affair along with a dalliance of one of his candidates and he can say: ‘See – we’re just like Boris, who got re-elected as Mayor of London!’

    I’d like to write another one about why the Labour Party don’t deserve to win too.

    But I would also like you to actually start mapping out what a detailed UKIP manifesto might look like.

    I won’t vote for them in 2015 as a protest. I’ll only vote for them if their manifesto is credible, costed and free of fascism.

    They have two years to produce one.

  2. rtj1211 says:7th August 2013 at 7:27 pmThe biggest problem most politicians have is that they won’t tell hysterical protestors that they’re, on this issue, if not in life in general, in need of being sectioned for the safety of society. Years of Animal Rights, kibosh Bridgenorth Power Station, no tracking, no this, no that: sometimes you JUST HAVE TO DECIDE. The odds are stacked against the honest politician, because the aim of the media is to inflame, not to support good decisions. The aim of the ueber rich is to install incompetent blackmailable leaders and as we all know, the media is their domain, isn’t it?The second biggest problem is that those who won’t suffer near armageddon are fairly comfortable with sweeping everything away. They wouldn’t be if their children weren’t getting fed, the bills were months late, their jobs were all gone and their dignity destroyed. I only respect calls for radical destruction by those who will suffer with everyone else. I”ve never read anything by anyone to say that anyone is either that brave, stupid or selfish (if they have kids). It’s always the rich who call for the poor to suffer. If they called for themselves to suffer just one little bit, people might listen to them. HS2? NIMBY city. Windmills? NIMBY city. Fracking in Sussex? NIMBY city. The list is endless. Go try poverty: you’d soon be less radical….The third biggest problem is political parties. They are the home for the never-had-a-job-in-the-real-world SPADs. How can you POSSIBLY know how to run the country across three or four generations if you’ve never worked for one generation in the real world?? This is not the 19th century and the British Empire. This is globalised Britain, tied to the EU as one harridan parent and the USA as the other. What’s needed is the Harry Houdini escapology to escape both without being trafficked by other evil monsters. If you really are so much of a swivel-eyed loon as to see America as solely a force for good in the world, then you really do need to grow up. America is 1984 imposed on the world: a global spying behemoth, stealing the world’s assets without mercy whilst retaining a constitution it hasn’t upheld since 1945. A country infested with organised criminality and an out-of-control military-industrial complex and investment banking system. It can still come good, but the odds are on it becoming a fascist dictatorship. It’s about time you saw America’s dark side, instead of staying fantasised by Hollywood’s misdirection. It might be better if we ditched English as the formal language: then America wouldn’t be so obsessed with us. They don’t seem quite so obsessed with Norway or Switzerland, do they?? They need to see a shrink and forget about the War of Independence. None of us over here had anything to do with it and we’re sick and tired of their slave-owners demeanour to the UK. We have contempt for the way they dealt with Katrina. Contempt. Their city governance is a shambles and most of them are about to go bust. Wall Street is organised mafia and no-one has the power to stop it. There is no value whatever added to the economy by Wall Street. Nothing it does couldn’t be done as well, if not better, by 50 Warren Buffett-like folks, one in each state, in terms of investment decisions. All the speculation would be got rid of and ordinary folks on Main Street could safely deposit their savings in thrifts again, without fear of getting raped by descendents of Solly Brothers and the other Wall Street Crime Families who carried out heists that make Fort Knox look like a stroll in the Park……..and are lionized for having done so.Agree with you about UKIP, however a twit today has probably given Nigel Farage more media time than he’s had in weeks. All he needs next is a joint announcement of Boris’ latest affair along with a dalliance of one of his candidates and he can say: ‘See – we’re just like Boris, who got re-elected as Mayor of London!’

    I’d like to write another one about why the Labour Party don’t deserve to win too.

    But I would also like you to actually start mapping out what a detailed UKIP manifesto might look like.

    I won’t vote for them in 2015 as a protest. I’ll only vote for them if their manifesto is credible, costed and free of fascism.

    They have two years to produce one.

Comments are closed.

Rod Liddle knows even less about Climate Change than I do about Millwall FC

Rod’s clumsy play for publicity

Young Rod - in cap, lower middle - enjoys some clean sporting fun with his pater at Millwall, 1935

Young Rod – in cap, lower middle – enjoys some clean sporting fun with his pater at Millwall, 1935

In a shameless attempt to win some readers for his little known Spectator blog, Rod Liddle has thrown together a desperate post with the highly offensive and almost certainly libellous headline The Politically Correct James Delingpole. It’s about my reaction to Richard Curtis’s ecofascist snuff movie No Pressure, which Rod reckons was overdone.

But there is something which does not quite ring true in his attacks upon a film made by Richard Curtis for the 10:10 climate change movement, exemplified by his piece in this week’s magazine. He has been ranting and raving about this film for ages and I cannot tell if his outrage and lack of humour is real, or post-modern ironic.

It’s puzzling that Rod should be puzzled because I did in fact spell the whole thing out on my You Know It Makes Sense column this week.

So let me explain for those die-hard defenders of ‘No Pressure’ why it wasn’t funny on any level whatsoever. And no, it isn’t because of the exploding children. Not per se. Sure, it’s a risky business, in the age of the suicide bomber, trying to extract comedy out of gruesomely atomised kids. But that doesn’t necessarily put such things beyond the pale. In comedy nothing ought to be beyond the pale, for that is part of its purpose, as the safety valve which allows us to say the unsayable. What matters is its context and its satirical point. Only then are we in a position to judge whether the sketch ‘works’ or whether it has failed horribly.

The reason Curtis’s joke failed horribly, I went on, is because it worked neither as effective satire nor as comedy of observation.

The joke would only work if all reasonable people thought ‘Christ, climate change deniers are a pain. Wouldn’t life be so much easier if we could just — tee hee — kill ’em rather than have to engage with their tedious, action-delaying arguments?’

What I didn’t mention in the piece for reasons of space, though I think it’s quite an interesting paradox is this: though the original No Pressure video was desperately unfunny, many of the pastiches were funny. The one where children were exploded, for example, for not submitting to the “Religion of Peace” had a readily comprehensible satirical point that Richard Curtis’s did not.

Anyway, of course I wasn’t really offended that Rod chose to embarrass himself by getting things so totally wrong and making everyone hate him and think he’s incredibly stupid and smelly. What I am, though, is disappointed.

Here’s the bit that really disappointed me:

You do not have to agree with Curtis, or 10:10 (though I don’t see what’s wrong with cutting carbon emissions, regardless of whether you sign up to AGW) to find it funny.

Do you see the bit I mean? It’s that trite bit in parenthesis where the normally well-informed, clear-sighted and acerbic Liddle ventures an opinion based on little more than WWF and Greenpeace press hand outs.

If Rod ever took me to a Millwall match – I’m not asking, you understand, this is just a theoretical scenario – I think I’d know better than to declare in a loud, fruity voice that the offside rule was silly, very silly, or that the game would be lot more enjoyable if the players weren’t so infernally competitive and the fans so foul-mouthed, and couldn’t someone teach them to sing the Eton Boating Song instead of all this four letter stuff?

I would expect Rod to show a similar degree of diligence in matters he clearly knows eff-all about, climate change being the most blindingly obvious one. And the same applies, though to a lesser extent, to my blog colleague – and Rod’s old mucker – Andrew Gilligan.

Gilligan has been doing some stormingly good exposes, of late, on the unutterable uselessness of wind farms. But blogging last month he went and ruined an intelligent, well-argued blog with this entirely unnecessary paragraph:

The problem with British greens is not that they’ve misdiagnosed the problem – I’ve very little doubt that climate change is real. Even in the unlikely event that the science is wrong, it’s not a gamble we can afford to take.

And your evidence for that statement is what, exactly, Andrew? Or, to put it another way, how would you feel if I were to write a blog astringently critiquing Lutfur Rahman and suddenly declare, en passant, that I’d walked past the East London Mosque the other day and that its calm, peaceful, delightfully mosquey appearance had left me in “very little doubt” that claims of its extremist tendencies were an outrageous calumny.

The sad thing here is that both Liddle and Gilligan are journalists I very much admire: proper, courageous, counterintuitive journalists who do their research, are never afraid to speak truth to power and write with verve and conviction. One day, I’m sure, they’ll come round to appreciate what many readers of this blog already do – that the Climate Change circus  represents possibly the greatest outbreak of mass hysteria in history, that it’s probably the worst pseudoscientific scandal in history and that it’s being used as an excuse to impose on us the biggest bill in history. It’s a story that is worth proper investigation and the sooner the cause of truth and justice has the likes of Liddle and Gilligan fully onside, the better for us all.

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