That Crystal Ball

The NotW scandal, as discussed below, has "reached out and touched" (usage: as a sniper "reaches out and touches" an enemy officer) pretty much the full spectrum of British institutions. And whenever a series of institutions are damaged, politicians get the urge to "do something". That "do something" is rarely to jail all those associated with the problem.

No, they prefer to impose a new law on the innocent rather than enforce the old law on the guilty.

Back in 2003, in a discussion in Westminster Hall, I suggested that power relations between the press, politicians and the blogosphere could either evolve into acceptance, or would change dramatically following a crisis (similar to the explosion of discontent during the fuel protests of 2000). I remember it because it was one of the few worthwhile contributions I've made in public :(.

I suspect that we may be approaching such a moment of crisis. Where the police, politicians, and journalists face a crisis, the blogosphere stands relatively untainted. Under the "impose law on the innocent" principle above, they may well be the only party with clean hands. And truly, people like Richard North, Andrew Montford, and Guido Fawkes (or to a lesser extent Phil Hendron and David Allen Green) form a more effective political opposition than any but a handful of MPs, and/or a more effective fourth estate than any group of journalists.

So I fully expect that whatever changes in the press laws emerge when the NotW dust settles, there will be a hook aimed at taming and de-clawing the blogosphere.

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