Monday, May 23, 2011

The outcry against super-injunctions on reporting private lives is about selling papers to make money

The newspapers’ outcry over the super-injunction against reporting which footballer had an affair has nothing to do with the public interest and everything to do with trying to sell papers and make money. Bank executives and footballers are over-paid and under-regulated, but knowing who they had sex with does nothing to sort that.

As I said in my last post (on the injunction taken out by banker Fred Goodwin) the appeals to the public interest are just playing with words. The public interest refers to things that affect the public’s interests – i.e which might harm them if they didn’t know them, or which they have a right to know (e.g because taxpayers’ money is involved). It does not mean whatever gossip some of the public might be interested in.

If newspapers win their battle to keep reporting sex gossip then the public interest will be seriously harmed as media coverage which should be about serious issues that do affect us all will go to who shagged who instead.

I’m pretty sure the original tweets on Giggs will have been sent by Sun or New of the World journalists who were looking to get round the injunction so they could keep publishing their grubby “investigations” of celebrities private lives to make money from them. The twitter users who then responded to the supposed threat to "online freedom" when Giggs tried to sue the original culprits were unwittingly helping out Murdoch and Kelvin Mackenzie and their kind. That's apart from the fact that there's no more moral right for anyone to make other peoples' private lives public online than there is anywhere else.

The press should be pushing for the lifting of some Ministry of Defence D-notices which have been used to cover up issues relating to torture and failure to equip troops properly and ‘commercial confidentiality’ clauses in PFI and PPP contracts which are used to prevent the public knowing how much of their money is going to PPP consortia.

No amount of sex gossip will prevent another financial crisis or reduce the unfairness that sees bankers and footballers paid millions while the average person in the UK earns around £20,000 per year, with many much, much worse off – unemployed, in poverty, or homeless.

Only re-regulation of the banks will prevent another financial crisis. This would have to include a legal ban on high street savings banks being involved in high risk investment banking, a ban on financial derivatives such as the CDOs which package good debt with bad – and a delay of say 10 years for receiving bonuses to force bank executives to look to the long term. The deregulation from the 80s on has forced them to prioritise high profits and high share dividends this quarter or else be replaced by someone who will.

To deal with inequality and unfair pay the minimum wage needs to keep rising above the rate of inflation; and there could be a 90% tax on individual income above £250,000 a year.

For either to work we need to close down the tax havens which allow the wealthiest and the biggest firms to both avoid tax and keep their financial dealings secret so that they can’t be effectively regulated by anyone.

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