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

I make the point generally. It's obvious that everybody in a political party -- and I don't pretend to be innocent of this myself -- seeks to be presented well in terms of policy and actions in local and regional and national press. Of course we do. And we seek to give them things that they will regard as good reasons for commending us. In the great public debate, they're very important players.

But by definition, it's not unimportant to try and get titles that sell 1 million, 2 million, 3 million copies to be on your side probably even more than the titles that sell 100,000, 200,000, 300,000. Bluntly, we're talking about broadsheets against tabloids, and therefore you temper your -- it is clear to me that parties temper their policies and their presentation to make them have maximum popular appeal. That's obviously a perfectly proper thing to do, but sometimes I sense that they go in the wrong direction for populist reasons.

I'll give one example, if I may. In the last Parliament, we had the Labour Party supporting advocating identity cards. They'd always been traditionally a party quite committed to civil liberties and so on and so forth. They moved to be a party which wanted to be seen to be strong on law and order and so on. That was part of that package. I think, I would say to my Labour Party friends, that became a compromise of their principles. They went the wrong side of the line to be appealing so they could appeal to the, as it were, law and order press.

Now, that may be unfair, they may say that wasn't the reason at all. I only give an example because you asked me to. But the relationship -- of course we have to talk to journalists, talk to editors, be interviewed by them, engage with -- I'm not arguing for any monastic -- it would be nonsense. Of course we do and we should do and we should be subject to their scrutiny, and I'm absolutely not asking for a less robust press and less active engagement, but there shouldn't be people going in through the back door into Downing Street, bluntly, as editors. If they want to go in, they should go in through the front door, or they should go in through the front door at Chequers or wherever it might be, and we need to have a system where it's open and transparent and we know the score.

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