Wednesday 27 April 2022

The Angela Rayner story: I don't agree with the speaker

 I am glad that the Speaker of the House of Commons  is a staunch believer in press freedom. So am I. But it is not his job to protect press freedom; they are quite good at doing that for themselves. It is his job to enable MPs to go about their business as freely as possible - and that includes freedom from misogyny and scurrilous insults.

Our press should be free to say anything they want, and indeed they are, as the story about Angela Rayner shows. But they should not be free to say anything they want without consequences.

The Mail on Sunday chose to write up the report about Angela Rayner in a scurrilous and misogynistic way. Assuming they're telling the truth about their source - which is by no means certain, but let's do them the courtesy of assuming it is - they could have reported it in any number of ways. The responsible thing would have been to write it up as "Tory MP tries to distract from partygate etc by using misogynistic innuendo against Labour front bencher".

But they didn't. They chose to write it as fact. They chose to aim it at Rayner rather than at the sad excuse for an MP who briefed them. They chose to be misogynist and they chose - quite deliberately - to be scurrilous.

The jouirnalist responsible for the story should have had his pass revoked - for a short but exemplary period of time.