The transcripts of the official inquiry into the culture, practices and ethics of the press. More…

The point I make here is that to get the balance right, mutual interest between politicians and the media will always exist, but mutual dependency, and what I call political clientalism must be avoided.

I think that it is right, inevitable, legitimate, and to be expected, that politicians will seek out the media, because you can't do your job as a politician unless you seek to convey your views via the media, and as I said earlier, it's quite right, legitimate, to be expected that the media will want to seek to persuade politicians of their points of view. I just think that that relationship should be laced with a healthy degree of scepticism about the motives of both sides in that relationship, and a certain sort of distance, and that clearly, that distance, that scepticism which I think should exist as it happens between the political class and any vested interest in society, not just the press but the trade unions, the City of London, I mean the point of good government is that you do not allow yourself to be unduly swayed by one interest or another. It's an old-fashioned liberal view which I strongly believe in. That is clearly threatened or can be undermined when you get, as I say, a relationship of in effect clientalism where party X feels it owes it to press group Y because press group Y is supporting party X.

The press have an incredibly valuable asset in their possession, which is unique amongst any vested interest in British public life, which is their ability to promote politicians and political parties in a way which then leads to an increased number of votes, and that, after all, is the heart of what the democratic contest is all about.

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