IN THE political “circle of life” there are times when the left wing meets the right wing on completion of the line.

Press regulation is one such issue. You would expect an extreme right winger to want the media under statutory control because his authoritarian ethos, his penchant for the strong man dictator (check out Trump’s policy on the media) is hardly hidden.

What sometimes comes as more surprising is the penchant for state control from the left and not necessarily the extreme wing at that.

And when the subject is journalism, those calls become louder. The most strident calls for the printed media to be brought under some form of Parliamentary regulation have come from members of Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party.

This has nothing to do with the philosophical debate about freedom of expression and everything to do with politics. And revenge politics at that. Rupert Murdoch and the Daily Mail are the targets for obvious reasons. Those politicians share the exact same central authoritarian ethos as the Right. They are a small part of what could be called the tribe of illiberal liberals. Many live in trendy London boroughs and maybe even work for worthy pressure groups (let’s be mischievous and say Liberty for instance) but they share the same willingness to allow politicians, judges and even the Queen to keep their beady eyes on the press rather than say the readers whose ultimate judgement (the purchase) really should decide whether a particular brand of journalism lives or dies.

Now the boring bit. The Commons this week debated all things press regulation and whether some of the Leveson Report, set up to investigate press ethics in the wake of the phone hacking scandal, should be enacted.

In specific a law which says the press can be punished in court if it is not recognised by a regulation scheme approved by Royal Charter. That’s the Queen bit. Virtually all newspapers and magazines have refused to join such a scheme because it brings an end to 300 years of press freedom from any form of state control. The terms of the Charter can be changed by a two thirds majority of MPs.

But having refused, it is proposed that all such publications should face cost sanctions if they are taken to court on libel or privacy issues.

So The Argus is sued and taken to court but wins the case because the report was in the public interest. However, because we have refused to submit to Royal Charter we would have to pay our court costs and the claimant’s, potentially running into £100,000s, a crippling burden which would likely mean that we would refrain from reporting many important stories in the future. Local democracy suffers.

So far the Government has pulled back from this draconian step. And it is not as if we are unregulated. A new body backed by the vast majority of the industry, the Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO), came into being after Leveson, headed by an independent judge. It is of course self-regulation but I know from personal experience that it examines complaints against the press with the utmost diligence.

I did not mean to bog you down with these details but to make a wider point that when it comes to the state expanding its power, as states are hardwired to do, it gains support from some strange bedfellows indeed.

You don’t have to like Murdoch to beware of anything that allows politicians a sniff of a leverage of power over a press which is supposed to be holding them to account.

Journalism has few friends at present, its wounds largely self-inflicted, but with enemies like the illiberal liberal and the dictator, it is surely on the right side of the battle this time.

The Argus: Autumnwatch presenters Martin Hughes-Games, Michaela Strachan, Chris Packham

They’ve only been gone a week but I’m missing those three already. Chris, Martin and Michaela I mean. Years ago to admit I loved watching a live TV broadcast about the British countryside would have seen me drummed out of the Post Punk Snearers’ Club (PPSC) forthwith. But I’m hooked on the BBC’s Autumnwatch and its Spring sister. The programme that makes sticklebacks, wagtails and hedgehogs prime time stars.

And it is the aforementioned Packham, Hughes-Games and Strachan who keep you coming back. Watching their boundless enthusiasm and simple joy at the treasures in the British countryside around them is to lose yourself for a wonderfully uncynical hour. Look, I’m getting carried away here but their perfectly pitched interaction makes them the Berlin Symphony Orchestra of TV presentation. Spring seems a long way away.