Press freedom in Britain is the second worst in Western Europe, yet we are led to believe by the present government that democracy in this country is something we should be proud of. Yet the UK was ranked 40th in the 2018 World Press Freedom Index, only just ahead of Burkina Faso (no.41) and Taiwan (no.42), The Times reported.
Of Western European countries only Italy (no.46) is below the UK, which ranks behind countries with questionable human rights records such as South Africa (no.28), Lithuania (no.36) and Trinidad and Tobago (no.39). Critics said the UK’s position, which is unchanged on last year, was embarrassing.
The threat of state regulation and on-line intimidation campaigns against prominent journalists knocked Britain down the table, compiled by Reporters Without Borders (RSF). The online abuse and threats made against Laura Kuenssberg for example, the BBC’s political editor, resulted in her being assigned a security detail at the 2017 Labour Conference.
British newspapers also face the threat of a second Leverson Enquiry to examine relations with the Police, but the Government said in March it would be formally scrapped. At the time, Culture Secretary Matt Hancock said: ‘We do not believe that reopening this costly and time-consuming enquiry is the right way forward.’ He highlighted reforms to the police, as well as the challenges faced by publishers, especially local newspapers.
Rebecca Vincent, UK Bureau Director of RSF (a non-profit group that promotes press freedom) told The Times: ‘This is unacceptable for a country that plays an important international standard-setting role when it comes to human rights and fundamental freedoms. We must examine the longer term trends of worrying moves to restrict press freedom and hold the UK government to account.’
The New Media Association, which represents newspapers, urged politicians to ‘protect media freedom and safeguard a vibrant press in the UK.’ A spokesman said: ‘We have seen repeated attempts by the House of Lords to highjack legislation such as the current Data Protection Bill, to enforce state-backed press regulation which would have a chilling effect on investigative journalism. This is a grave threat to press freedom and could lead to the closure of newspapers.’
Well, hypocrisy is involved in all this, especially when you see how political standards have fallen to rock bottom. They have deteriorated to the extent that the public believe we are served by a bunch of opportunists whose motives are power for the sake of it, hence the division within their ranks tell it all.