Champagne Socialist of the Month, March 2013: Dr Evan Harris and Hacked Off


Champagne Socialism Rating: 4/5 (Bollinger Bolsheviks)

From 1997 to 2010 Dr Harris was the Liberal Democrat MP for Abingdon West. He has campaigned for many worthy causes such as the “right to die” and the abolition of anti-blasphemy laws. Alas, the loss of his seat in Parliament appears to have caused Dr Harris to abandon his principles. So much so that he has joined Hacked Off, an organization promoting the statutory regulation of the press. For this we salute you, Dr Harris and Hacked Off, Champagne Socialists of the Month, March 2013!

Judges Notes

Hypocrisy: 4/5

Dr Harris tells us via his Twitter account that he campaigns for free speech. Unfortunately press regulation, however light, and free speech are diametrically opposed concepts. Whilst Dr Harris and Hacked Off may believe that they do not pose a threat to freedom they are clearly of the opinion that just a few more laws will make the world a nicer place: the Utopian tendency to believe that a cognoscenti should regulate society on behalf of the little man is the hallmark of a champagne socialist.

Authoritarianism: 3/5

Any press regulation which is enacted will be ignored, like the speed limits, or laughed off as a historical oddity, like the law which prohibits Welshmen from entering Chester before sunrise. Therefore we can only award 3/5 for authoritarianism.

Appeal to emotion/popularity: 5/5

Hacked Off relies heavily on celebrity endorsement from the likes of J K Rowling and Hugh Grant, who Dr Harris was seen rubbing shoulders with at a recent Lib-Dem conference. Furthermore it also seeks to stir up public antipathy towards the press by co-opting murdered children, such as Milly Dowler, to its cause. Those wishing to learn the art of popular/emotional appeal could learn a thing or three from Hacked Off.

 NB. As we already have laws prohibiting phone hacking (The Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000), and murder, further legislation of any kind is totally unnecessary.

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