The Wolverine-like, obstinate, fearless leader of the Liberal Democrats, Nick Clegg is just ruthless when it comes to making decisions.
Sure, we know him for constantly biting at the heels of the Conservatives and perpetually speaking his mind. He certainly isn’t one for being so shaky that he can’t even dip his toe in the water of public opinion, before making a decision.
Well, recently, it would seem he didn’t dip his toe in the water at all, as his opinion on the petition to ban The Sun’s Page 3 came as a bit of a shock to liberals everywhere. He claimed that banning Page 3 as content would be ‘deeply illiberal.’
I’m going to have to disagree with Nick here. Tits aren’t content. They might be entertainment for some, but they’re not News, they’re not Lifestyle and they’re definitely not Sport. The small captions, often stating things such as ‘Lauren, 20 from London thinks the EU might be a good thing,’ are merely vox pops to prevent it from simply being a page torn out of a porn mag.
In terms of principles, Nick Clegg was almost on to the right idea. It is a very sensible and liberal philosophy that the government shouldn’t dictate what is published in the media.
The freedom of the press, although often susceptible to backfire, is something that makes our newspapers of various political leanings something to be cherished. But, the argument that Nick Clegg has missed here is what really defines content, and the attitude towards it.
The bigger picture is one of objectification, and poor excuses. It has almost become an institution in its own right, and the reasons for looking at Page 3 aren’t for obtaining useful information in the week’s news. If they want news, why not go to the news pages, or read through a newspaper?
If a woman with enhanced breasts and a fierce pout telling you what she thinks of the news is the syrupy coating on a dry piece of politics, then surely there are other alternatives. John Snow doing his Big Fat Quiz of the Year lyrics as a permanent feature would be a start.
There are of course many other arguments for banning Page 3, as a feminist I have many I could fire at Clegg. But, my main issue with Clegg’s statement is that it is an excuse for the editor of The Sun to sweep aside the petition. After all, if political backing would have strengthened support, political dismissal is just as powerful.
As for his remark that Whitehall doesn’t need a ‘moral policeman or woman telling people what they can and cannot see,’ maybe some morals concerning the image of women in tabloids wouldn’t go amiss. The liberal stance for banning Page 3 has forked, but it would seem Clegg’s path may not sit well with voters.