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Tom Watson: I won’t be bullied by national press - COMMENT

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The Government has abandoned plans to implement press reform. It did so because it’s running scared of the newspapers that are helping to prop up Theresa May’s administration, writes Labour Party deputy leader Tom Watson.

Tom Watson

One of those newspapers – the Daily Mail – has run a series of stories this week about Max Mosley, a leading campaigner for independent regulation of the press.

The fact that it has done so now is not a coincidence. Max’s stand on press regulation has made him some powerful enemies in the media.

Max has also made financial donations to the Labour Party, which helped to fund some of the work I do as Labour’s deputy leader. As a young man over half a century ago he held some offensive views.

If I thought for one second that he held those views now I wouldn’t have accepted that money.

David Cameron promised to implement the recommendations of the Leveson Inquiry into press standards.

Max has consistently called for that commitment to be honoured – as have I.

It’s shameful that Tory ministers have ditched the pledge the former Prime Minister made to the victims of press intrusion.

Whatever side of the argument you’re on, it’s clear the Daily Mail and others would like to silence those who continue to campaign for newspapers to be held to the same high standards to with they hold others.

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I don’t speak for Max but I have no doubt he will continue to speak out – and so will I.

I won’t take lectures on fighting fascism from the Daily Mail, which expressed its admiration for Hitler in the 1930s and covered the British facist movement sympathetically.

It’s owner Viscount Rothermere even wrote an article in the paper under the headline ‘hurrah for the Blackshirts’.

The Labour Party said in our election manifesto last year that we would implement an independent system of press regulation.

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When we are elected, that’s a commitment we will honour – no matter how much the Tories and their powerful friends in the national tabloid press

This is not an attack on papers like the Express & Star, who have served the communities who read them for many years.

It is about taking on the combined power of national titles who can use their size and clout to intimidate and bully.

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