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Posts Tagged ‘Democracy

Blogger arrested for filming council meeting: In Carmarthenshire, this is what democracy looks like

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Furious council officials call Police after blogger refuses to stop filming a public meeting

From Carmarthenshire Planning blog

…when the row commenced over the Day Club, I started filming with my phone… I was asked to leave by the Chairman and Mark James, I said that I was not doing anything wrong, it is not against the law nor even in their standing orders (rules for meetings), neither was I disturbing the meeting…

As I didn’t leave, Mr James and the Chair called the police and then adjourned the meeting… it only took ten minutes today for two police cars and four police officers to appear in the Gallery. I tried to argue my point but was then arrested in the Public Gallery for ‘breaching the peace’. I was taken outside the door, handcuffed, searched, my phone taken and marched out to the waiting police cars. I was then taken 30 miles to Llanelli police station where I remained handcuffed for another hour before being ‘processed’, and put in a cell for another two hours.

By this time I was very disorientated, worried about my young daughter who needed picking up from school, I was cold (the police had taken my jacket and shoes and socks) and distressed. Without a solicitor present, I was then threatened by three police officers who said that if I didn’t sign an ‘undertaking’ not to film/record any more meetings I would be kept in overnight

Carmarthenshire blogger Jacqui Thompson is on Twitter as @caebrwyn

Written by Richard Wilson

June 9, 2011 at 10:05 pm

“Guess who’s also on the Murdoch payroll? The Scotland Yard cop who headed up the failed investigation”

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From the Columbia Journalism Review

Politico astutely pointed out the other day that Fox News now employs four of the leading Republican presidential candidates: Sarah Palin, Newt Gingrich, Mike Huckabee, and Rick Santorum.

It’s hardly news that Fox News is more propaganda outlet than news organization. But this ought to be a more troubling development than it seems to have been thus far…

…it’s uncertain how other news organizations can cover the early stages of the presidential race when some of the main GOP contenders are contractually forbidden to appear on any TV network besides Fox.

C-SPAN Political Editor Steve Scully said that when C-SPAN tried to have Palin on for an interview, he was told he had to first get Fox’s permission — which the network, citing her contract, ultimately denied. Producers at NBC, ABC, CBS, CNN and MSNBC all report similar experiences…

Murdoch, at least, is a naturalized American citizen, and who can forget the heart-warming story of why he became one: To get past legal requirements so he could snap up TV stations here.

But I’ve never understood why the UK allows a foreigner like Murdoch to have so much control over its press—he controls some 40 percent of newspaper circulation and has huge influence over television, too…

That News of the World scandal and coverup continues to unravel, and Murdoch’s influence is one of the key stories there. It looks for all the world as if Scotland Yard was so in debt to and/or scared of News Corporation that it wouldn’t investigate the crimes properly—and even helped cover them up.

Guess who’s also on the Murdoch payroll? The Scotland Yard cop who headed up the failed investigation….

Written by Richard Wilson

October 5, 2010 at 5:16 am

England in the Eighteenth Century

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I’ve just been flipping back through some old A-level books and came across JH Plumb’s beautifully-written (1950) “England in the Eighteenth Century”. Partly inspired by Paul Kingsnorth’s “Dark Mountain” project, I’ve been looking at what life in the UK was like before we got our hands on the resources that fuel our modern economy and society. I’m trying to get a sense of where we may be headed when those resources run out, if we fail to make a smooth switch to effective alternatives.

Plumb’s account of England in 1714 – when our population was just a tenth of its current figure – makes for grim, albeit eloquent, reading…

Most cellars were inhabited, not only by people but by their pigs, fowls, sometimes even by their horses and cattle… All houses and cellars were desperately overcrowded- ten to a room was common in Manchester… Disease was rampant and unchecked… In the early part of the century, only about one child in four, born in London, survived…

Though some elements seem rather more familiar:

In the midst of death, the people sought palliatives and found them in drink, gambling and violence. The consumption of gin – drunk mixed with fruit cordials – was prodigious, but largely confined to London, where it may have affected the death rate in the thirties, although virulent influenza epidemics also took their toll…

…the ordinary merchants and prosperous shopkeepers… were still deeply attached to the puritan attitude… They were also Whigs, but it was an old-fashioned type of Whiggery which did not always see eye to eye with Walpole, for they believed in plain, fair and honest dealing, and the control of government by a Parliament – not the reverse, which was Walpole’s way…

What loyalty they had to Walpole was strained by the opposition’s exposure of corruption in high places. Their natural suspicion was aroused by the talk of England’s interests being sacrificed to Hanover. They were devoted readers of The Craftsman, the vigorous opposition newspaper, which played on their prejudices; some were taken in and voted Tory, most of them kept to the politics of their fathers…

Written by Richard Wilson

August 19, 2010 at 10:08 am

Posted in Democracy

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On the subject of unelected Prime Ministers…

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From the BBC, October 18th 1963

Aristocrat is new prime minister

A Scottish Earl has won one of the most bitterly-fought leadership contests in the history of the Conservative Party to become Britain’s next Prime Minister.

As Lord Home arrived at 10 Downing Street, he told reporters, “It is a great honour to be asked to do this.”

He now has three days in which to persuade two of his bitterest rivals in the leadership contest, the former deputy Prime Minister Rab Butler, and former Chancellor, Reginald Maudling, to join his cabinet, so that he can form a government.

The former Prime Minister, Harold Macmillan, has been battling illness for some time, and announced his resignation at the Conservative Party conference less than a week ago.

Four candidates emerged to take over: Mr Butler, Mr Maudling, Lord Hailsham and Lord Home.

The leadership battle became increasingly bitter, and split the party into two camps – one supporting Mr Butler, and another behind Mr Maudling.

Lord Home, who was foreign secretary in the Macmillan Government, was initially regarded as an outsider, and was the only one of the four who expressed reluctance to take up the post.

He also has a low public profile outside the House of Commons, although he is well-liked and respected at Westminster.

But as the rivalry between the two camps became a bitter feud, Lord Home’s name was increasingly mentioned as the compromise candidate.

Mr Macmillan’s choice of a peer to succeed him as prime minister – the first to hold the office since 1895 – is highly controversial, and has been greeted with bewilderment by the supporters of Rab Butler, who was widely believed to have been the prime minister’s favoured candidate.

The press and the opposition have also attacked Lord Home’s aristocratic background and perceived lack of a public profile.

“No party can ever have portrayed such a total lack of confidence in each other as to have to resort to such a drama in order to find the lowest common denominator,” commented the deputy leader of the opposition, George Brown.

The Liberal leader Jo Grimond said of Lord Home, “He has many admirable qualities, but they do not seem to have counted as much as the fact that he did not want the job.

“That surely is an insufficient reason for giving it to him.”

Written by Richard Wilson

May 11, 2010 at 12:01 pm

Posted in Don't Get Fooled Again

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Hackney Council threatens legal action to censor independent community news site’s coverage of election bungles

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Hackney residents refused permission to vote

Disgraced local authority Hackney Council are today in the spotlight over their disastrous mishandling of yesterday’s general election, which saw voters being turned away from polling stations, unable to vote, due to inadequate provision of resources.

But there is another outrageous story which has, so far, been overshadowed. Not only did Hackney Council falsely and repeatedly claim to voters that there was no Conservative candidate standing in the local mayoral elections taking place on the same day – they are threatening legal action against a courageous local indpendent community news website that has dared to report the story, and published a damning audio recording of a council official making these false claims.

From the Hackney Citizen

Hackney Council has today written to Hackney Citizen asking us to remove two audio recordings from our website.

The audio clips are recordings of a Hackney Council employee wrongly informing a caller that there was no Conservative party candidate standing in the Hackney Mayoral election.

The Council says that it will apply for an injunction and its legal costs if we do not comply with its request forthwith.

We take the view that it is in the public interest to disclose the way the Council was dealing with the issue, as evidenced by the audio clips.

The recordings remain on our website here.

The letter to Hackney Citizen from Hackney Council’s legal department is reproduced below.

Written by Richard Wilson

May 7, 2010 at 11:25 am

Posted in Don't Get Fooled Again

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Al Jazeera’s “Listening Post” on Trafigura and Carter Ruck

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I’ve long been a fan of Al Jazeera’s willingness to cover stories and angles that other news media won’t touch, and was pleased to have the chance to contribute to the programme above. I was even more pleased when I saw how it had turned out – definitely one of the best overviews of the story that I’ve yet seen.

UPDATE …on a free speech tangent, the techie guerilla campaign against the litigiousness of UK chiropractors continues with a sneaky pop at the General Chiropractic Council.

Written by Richard Wilson

October 29, 2009 at 9:34 pm