Shadow culture secretary proposes new state registry for journalists

By Eilidh Walker

This week’s Labour Party Conference in Liverpool has once again caused controversy with comments made by the shadow culture secretary Ivan Lewis. Mr Lewis used his speech in Liverpool to propose that all journalists should have to join a national register. A similar system already exists for doctors, who all have to be registered and should they behave inappropriately they can be struck off. Mr Lewis suggested a similar format be used with the British press with journalists deemed to have committed “gross malpractice” being refused the right to have any future work published by any media organisation. It is easy to jump to this conclusion after the work of  a minority of journalists at The News of The World newspaper and their involvement with the phone hacking scandal shocked the nation but Mr Lewis seems to have entered murky waters after all is he not therefore proposing that the government would be regulating the press? and challenging freedom of speech. He did address this issue by going on to say, “with freedom comes responsibility.”

Although earlier in his speech Mr Lewis had praised the “Brilliant investigative journalism,” carried out by Journalists at the Guardian whose efforts “forced a reopening of the investigation,” into phone hacking.Many have taken to twitter to express their anger at Ivan Lewis’ comments, one user likened the idea of a state register of journalists to a dictatorship, “know who came up with that in Italy? Mussolini,” others branding the comments as, ” lunacy” and “unworkable.” Some going as far as to brand the speech a “fiasco.”The comments made by Mr Lewis have however been encouraged by others on twitter, many users still reeling from the hacking scandal believe that a state register would be a step in the right direction with some saying he was: “not completely wrong.” This statement has also been backed by The Independent. Ed Miliband has now distanced himself and the Labour party from the comments made by Mr Lewis many Labour MP’s and supporters suggesting that Ivan Lewis had been “misunderstood.”

Mr Lewis also went on to clarify his previous statement saying that he regretted “that there had been a response to something that I didn’t say,” adding “I don’t favour state oversight of the press.” This shows the impact social media now has on the political parties, within only a few hours of the initial speech from Mr Lewis the Labour party had time to gauge the publics opinion and then react accordingly in this case publicly disagreeing with the view of a member of their shadow cabinet.

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