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British Speech Nannies and the Respectable Tendency

The British media is abuzz this week over the creation of a new government-run press regulator. The NYT reports that the new code invests the regulator with the authority to “order prominent corrections in publications that breach standards,” a power now enshrined in the royal charter, which also sets the rules for the BBC and the Bank of England. British tabloids are not known for the integrity of their content, but many feel that government regulation of it is a bridge too far.

Via Meadia can’t help but agree. Britain has the makings of a great country, but its governing elite has a disturbing penchant for power grabs. This “Respectable Tendency” in British politics is the country’s curse and ruin. The well-bred establishment backed Stanley Baldwin and Neville Chamberlain in the 1930s and ignored Winston Churchill as long as it could. After World War Two this respectable class led moderates in Tory and Labor governments to launch Britain’s ruinous experiments with socialism and state control. Today, the Respectable Tendency is throttling freedom of the press.

Bent British newspaper hacks are indeed a curse. Nobody anywhere in the world thinks Britain’s tabloid press does a good job. But the slimiest, most gin-sodden Fleet Street hack who ever lived isn’t as dangerous to Britain as the bland, responsible, respectable people who decided to set up a government-backed press board.

Britain can thrive in the 21st century, but it will surely fail if the British people allow their brain dead but well groomed establishment free rein.

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