The threat Labour is posing to the libel reform bill is breathtakingly dumb and cynical.
It is a small piece of legislation that would curb some of the worst idiocies of our libel law – making it just a little more difficult for charlatans and foreign billionaires to suppress legitimate criticism – and was making its way through parliament with cross-party support.
Then up pop Labour Lords Puttnam and Falconer to amend the bill with a lot of proposals based on Lord Justice Leveson’s report on press regulation – which get the support of the Labour leadership. No matter that their proposals are utterly illiberal where they are not entirely irrelevant (they include the creation of a body that would vet material before publication, which is outrageous): they know that their action endangers the entire bill, because the government will withdraw support for it if amended. Indeed, the sole purpose of their intervention appears to be to embarrass David Cameron for wavering over Leveson.
There’s 24 hours for Labour to change tack and drop this opportunistic wrecking move: the Lords vote tomorrow. If Labour doesn’t withdraw, it will lose all credibility with journalists … and it wouldn’t want that, would it? Read Nick Cohen, John Kampfner and Tim Luckhurst.