Lord justice Leveson has given his verdict. It has created something of a problem for the Tory party. The majority backs Cameron in opposing the idea of voluntary regulation enshrined in a suitable statute; a minority of Tory MPs back Leveson. Add those pro Leveson Tories to all the Lib Dems and Labour, who also back Leveson, and Cameron is in a minority in the Commons. Moreover the public is generally fed up with MPs, the press and bankers and would back any measure to curb all or any of them. Today is added the suggestion that to curb the press in any way by some legal authority, would infringe their human rights. Whose human rights? Phone hackers? What about the victims? The trouble with the Human Rights Act is that it is taken as a licence by campaigners and pressure groups to prefer the guilty over the innocent.
At the heart of all this, and by all this we mean not just Leveson, but Hillsborough, Bloody Sunday, Savile et al, is the absence of a proper set of rules, by which society and the nation in all its constituent parts, functions, which are clear, clear cut and universally available. The reason that every other country on earth bar two others, has a written constitution, is because without one, the conduct of modern national life is near impossible, free of an endless procession of disputes, inquiries and bits of corrective legislation, requiring the constant attendance of expensive lawyers, which in turn creates a huge harvest of opportunity for adversarial litigation.
Definitions of issues such as freedom of expression, the press and human rights are set firm within a codified constitution, which also requires of the free, the fulfilment of obligations for the public good. Without such an instrument at the foundation of the state, power lies in the hands of the few, who manipulate it for their own benefit, rarely in the interests, but often to the detriment, of the many.
Sooner or later the United kingdom will have to have a grown up discussion about this fundamental subject, presently inhibited by a peculiar taboo. Nobody ever speaks of it.