I am Orwellian, old labour, out of touch with the modern world, vengeful and seeking one rule for myself and other Politicians who blog and Tweet, whilst simultaneously trying to impose another draconian rule on newspapers. Or so some would have you believe.
To show that I am not a worthy person to have opinions, the fact that I voted for the war in Iraq has been sighted, forgetting that every other Local MP did so too. My expenses have been raised again, along with the fascinating fact that I was unhappy with the headline in the local paper. Yes, I did seek legal advice.
“……..No one can shut you up Ainsworth” has been hurled at me. Yes, I am now, more often than not, referred to as “Ainsworth”. It is like being back in the playground. I have not yet been accused of advocating the slaughter of the first born but it will come.
What have I done and what am I saying to warrant this ludicrous diatribe from a member of the fourth estate?
First, I have used the libel laws to get settlement of a dispute with a newspaper.
Second, I advocate that the right of access to justice via NO WIN NO FEE protection should not be watered down. This is to ensure that others can get the benefit of the legal framework that I did if they are defamed in the future. This is not vengeful and those rights are being quietly watered down in Parliament now.
Thirdly, I have advocated the right to a prominent apology when someone is defamed. I don’t necessarily believe this should be on top of compensation. It could be used by the courts to mitigate all or some of the compensation due. But experience has shown me that no matter how strong your case you cannot get a decent prominent apology from a newspaper under the law as it stands.
We need a free and healthy press in this country. After all, they are one of the most important guarantors of our freedom. But when an organ of that free press sets out to stifle and prevent debate rather than protect it surely there is something wrong.
My arguments may be wrong. But my arguments have not been attacked. I am being attacked for voicing them. Whatever happened to that Abe Lincoln principle “I disagree with every word you say but I will defend with my life your right to say them”.
It has been written that newspapers often give a better right of response than Twitter, I therefore look forward in anticipation to these thoughts being reported in the Coventry Telegraph, unaltered and with the same promenance with which I have been denounced. After that maybe we can get down to discussing these most important issues in a sane and reasonable manner.