DCMS secretary Maria Miller is coming under pressure to drop the government’s disastrous attempt to drag blogs into the post-Leveson regulator. After an intense 48 hours of lobbying from bloggers, two peers have now tabled amendments which restrict the meaning of “relevant publisher”.
An amendment from Labour peer Wilf Stevenson would exclude non-profits and “small” publishers and is thought to have the backing of the Labour establishment:
“if that person publishes material on an online site written either by one person, or edited with a series of contributors, where the financial turnover produced from the site is small or the site is not run primarily for profit.”
A broader amendment tabled earlier in the day from Conservative peer Lord Lucas would exclude local blogs, small and medium sized businesses, charities and campaign groups:
“A publisher who focuses on a specific locality or region and only reports national issues on an incidental basis that is relevant to such local or regional matters.
A publisher who operates as a non-charitable campaigning organisation and is publishing material incidental to the organisation’s aims and objectives.
A publisher who does not exceed the definition of a small or medium-sized enterprise as defined in Section 382 and 465 Companies Act 2006.”
Does Miller really fancy becoming the secretary of state that dragged big political blogs and small community websites alike into a regulator not designed for them?
A very brave move.
It’s a big day for the UK blogosphere. With the government tabling botched legislation which drags bloggers and small publishers into a regulation system which was designed for media corporations, 3pm is the deadline for the proposals to be amended or withdrawn.
Here is what Tom Watson told LabourList earlier:
“It is clear to all but the very stupid that the new system should only apply to big media -with print operations that might also have a digital presence. Maria Miller should urgently clarify how this will be achieved.”
Reforms providing an arbitration process allowing responsible bloggers to avoid ruinously expensive defamation proceedings could be attractive …
… but trying to shoe-horn much of the internet into a successor to the Press Complaints Commission won’t work.
A Labour MP’s letter to police sets out details of a user manual for controversial computer software that may have been authored by Conservative Party chairman Grant Shapps – claiming it indicates “intent” to breach criminal statutes covering copyright infringement.
Providing material supplementary to his original complaint from five months ago, Selly Oak MP Steve McCabe claims ”offences under Section 107(1), (2) and (2A) of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 may have been committed” in addition to “other breaches of the law identified pursuant to a full and proper investigation.”
The correspondence is published in full by Scrapbook below.
More: Read the new allegations in full »
According to the Mirror, One Direction singer Harry Styles shed light on his political sympathies while partying after the Brit Awards this week. Perhaps there’s a reason why the seemingly omnipresent crooner stood to Cameron’s left outside of Number 10 during filming for the band’s latest videos:
“I’m a Labour supporter … I lean to the left. I’m for the people.”
With a majority of more than 7,000, however, we doubt that Fiona Bruce — Tory MP for Styles’ family home in Congleton, Cheshire — has much to worry about.
Watch: Cameron in One Directions’s Comic Relief video »
From Boris Johnson to Rick Santorum, we are sadly familiar with politicians comparing gay relationships with bestiality. But Labour’s backbenches are home to what may be a counterposing case – an MP who admitted to a fetish for horses but voted against gay marriage yesterday.
When a local newspaper rang 64 year-old MP Ronnie Campbell and asked whether he supported an event in his Blyth Valley constituency to mark so-called National Fetish Day, he told them: “I have no problem with it and I am happy to show my support”.
With the event running under the slogan “perverts wear purple”, the north east regional paper Sunday Sun asked whether he would be entering into the sartorial spirit of the day:
“I have a purple tie and a purple shirt so I will be able to wear their colours.”
And he even admitted to having an unnatural fondness for horses:
“I must have a thousand [fetishes] but, hand on my heart, I couldn’t tell which is the most important one. Probably the horses.”
When the bemused local hack explained to him the meaning of the word, however, Campbell quickly U-turned:
“Oh my God almighty, my God, is that what a fetish is? I thought a fetish was a worry, like worrying about backing the right horse.”
Good to MPs with a firm grasp on the facts deciding the laws of the land.
Unsurprisingly, Cameron’s script for today’s PMQs contained lines on Ed Ball’s anaemic performance in response to the autumn statement:
“I’m surprised the shadow chancellor is shouting again. We learnt last week, like bullies all over the world, he can dish it out but he can’t take it”
The session seemed to show Balls back to his usual robust form, however, leaning towards the dispatch box to wave IFS analysis – showing that working families would be worse off thanks to Osborne — in the prime ministers face. Hi namesake was at it too, with Cameron clearly distracted by interruptions from Ed Miliband:
“I think the leader of the opposition is catching the disease from the shadow chancellor of not being able to keep his mouth shut for five seconds”
Hon members: “Oooooooooh!”
With Labour’s controversial selection process for Rotherham culminating in a walk-out by local party members last night, questions have been asked as to why the leading local candidate was excluded from the shortlist after Labour sources claimed they needed “a clean break from the past”.
Having a literally glittering record for his ten years on Rotherham council, Mahroof Hussain was the obvious omission from a panel of candidates which is set by the party at national level. But local members stormed out of the selection meeting after being forced to pick from a choice of just two.
Perhaps the answer can be found in Hussains’ biography for a selection in another northern seat, Middlesborough:
“Mahroof Hussain is a councillor in Rotherham and has served on the council for the past 10 years. He worked with the Minister for Europe, Rt. Hon Denis MacShane MP as an advisor on Equality in Europe”
With the Scotland Yard and the Crow Prosecution Service reconvening a powerful committee to look again at Denis MacShane’s invoices, perhaps a potential future court date as a witness wasn’t what they were looking for in Rotherham’s next MP?
Congratulations to soon-to-be-suspended-from-the-Commons Denis MacShane, who has found someone prepared to defend him in public. Step forward lawyer Mark Stephens, who told Radio 4′s World at One that action taken by Commons authorities over false invoices will, errr, provide succour to fascists.
As MacShane had done in a written statement, Stephens attempted to invoke the Rotheram MP’s anti-fascist work — and the fact that the BNP had submitted a complaint — as some form of defence:
“The most important thing here is that if people who are anti-fascist, who have fought against semitism [sic], then in those sort of circumstances, those people will be deterred from doing so in the future because those people will become targets.”
Zoom to 2:58 for the audio:
Readers may recognise Stephens a one time curly haired sidekick to Julian Assange. They fell out after Finners Stephen Innocent withheld a £412,000 book advance to cover legal fees.
On the evidence of this afternoon’s performance, however, the Wikileaks founder may be better off without him.