The politics of intervention in Syria revisited

raf typhoons

The Guardian run a retrospective story on Parliament’s decision not to use British military force in Syria after the chemical weapons attacks there. One of the threads in the story is that the old division of powers between the executive and legislature has been irreparably changed. In my mind the precedents and the development of Law needs to be put in the context of the decisions taken about Suez, the Falklands and Iraq, the latter two military interventions both having Parliamentary debates before military action. It should also be born in mind that the US used to have a similar  disposition but changed their laws after Nixon’s escalation of the Vietnam War. …

Web Blocking in the UK

Web Blocking in the UK

An internet safe for kids, plebs and Tories

The phone companies’ Tory inspired “safe content” filters are coming online. While the road to and strong arming of the ISPs into voluntary agreement was well covered over the summer, although not be me, it seemed the Surveillance stories were more important, the New Statesman in an article published last week by Martin Robbins, entitled “Cameron’s internet filter goes far beyond porn – and that was always the plan” shows the bleeding obvious that it’s not possible to build “safe” filters for other people. The article has provoked some noise on twitter since these privately implemented filters are a non-accountable overreach, there is no appeal, no democratic oversight and they are implemented using crude ineffective technology which reinforces such overreach. Taken in conjunction with the Gagging Bill, also known as the Transparency of Lobbying, Non-party Campaigning and Trade Union Administration Bill currently going through Parliament, this should be seen as an attack on our democratic systems in that it will deprive citizens of the information and evidence that they need to vote. …

Is piracy really the most important issue facing the creative industries

Is piracy really the most important issue facing the creative industries

Today, Parliament released the “Culture” select committee’s report “Supporting the Creative Industries”. The headline pursued by most media outlets is that Google’s efforts to limit copyright infringement by its ‘users’ is, to quote the committee chairman, John Whittingdale, “derisory”.  This is reported by Computing, which extends Whittingdale’s quotes which demand further action from Google which is erroneously singled out as the single largest source of piracy and thus the single largest source of damage to Britain’s creative industries. Peter Bradwell of the ORG, and Paul Bernal of UEA cover the report and its impact, in Peter’s case on the ORG Blog, in an article called, Culture Committee copyright report one-sided and simplistic and in Paul’s case on his blog in an article called, Supporting the creative economy?. The ORG verbal evidence to the committee is available as a video here…, on Parliament TV. Enjoy the show and Peter’s persistant return to statistics and facts …

What was said at the ORG meeting on the surveillance state?

What was said at the ORG meeting on the surveillance state?

The openrights group meeting at #lab13 was held, and has been reported at their web site in an article called ‘Tom Watson MP: “The surveillance state is running amok and Parliament has absolutely failed.”‘ They have caught the opening speakers, Paul Johnson from the Guardian, Nick Pickles of Big Brother Watch, Javier Ruiz (ORG) and Tom Watson MP on video which I recommend you watch, although I have precised the contributions below. …

Citizens not Suspects

Citizens not Suspects

The Guardian reports that Privacy International are going to court to get the UK Government banned from using the USA’s ‘intelligence’ obtained via their Prism programme, and to suspend the UK’s equivalent programme, the GCHQ’s Tempora programme.

Privacy International argue that the UK agencies’ use of NSA supplied data is illegal since there is no warrant and no notification and no appeal; which is a problem when there is no ‘probable cause’. In order for GCHQ to intercept someone, they’d need a warrant issued under RIPA. This looks to be  an example of the two agencies outsourcing the surveillance of their own citizenry, since they are prohibited from doing so. i.e. GCHQ is spying on Yanks, and the NSA returns the favour by spying on Brits. Both agencies need a warrant to spy on their own citizens, but not on foreigners. …

Clean Politics, a bit of Ed, a bit of me

Ed Miliband makes his speech; the autocue is here at Labour List. This speech more than most, one must read his words, everyone else will add their spin. So, here’s mine, by my reading, the key points for change are,

  • Affiliation Memberships by Trade Unions are to be based on consent.
  • A new code of conduct for candidates in internal elections and selections, (we have one now; so who’s fault is it that it isn’t good enough?)
  • Limiting expenditure  including  gifts in kind and 3rd party expenditure internal elections and selections (Good idea, the devil’s in the detail).
  • Regulation of CLP/TU teaming agreements (again an incremental reform; I’d like to see the evidence that the current agreements are being abused.)
  • He proposes that MP’s should be prohibited from having second jobs, (Yes please,  and include the Mayor of London in this proposal.)
  • He proposes that unspecified measures should be taken to clean up lobbying and conflicts of interests in Parliament (Perhaps the Labour Party should expel the worst offenders, and include Peers in the list.)
  • He proposes that Labour’s candidate for London Mayor is to be chosen by supporters, not members. (Why would we want the advice of people who won’t join?)

He also refers to the opening out of policy making since his election as Leader. This is delusional, moving policy initiation to a ‘bit bucket’ on the web is not extending policy making. …

Who wins when copyright and free speech clash?

The short answer is, I suppose, it depends on which courts you sue in. (This article at Torrent Freak shows what happened when the Pirate Bay claimed Free Speech rights; both the Swedish courts and the ECtHR ruled against them. If watching the Good Wife, you’ll believe that  free speech is a recognised defence for copyright infringement and monopolistic behaviour), however techdirt.com probably has a more accurate and less optimistic view as to the power of the First Amendment in the USA. …

Two political forecast models; a Labour landslide

If you check, You Gov’s midweek poll for last week, you will find they forecast, as follows. CON 29%, LAB 42%, LD 11%, UKIP 18%; the field work was done between the 21st and 23rd May. If you then go to the BBC’s House of Commons Seat Calculator, and set the dial as You Gov suggest, you get the following result.


cropped screen shot of the BBC's seat calculator

A Labour Majority of 142, with the seats as follows, CON 190, LAB 396, LD 35 and the Rest at 29. This is on a scale of Tony Blair’s 1997 Victory.

ooOOOoo

There are a number of problems with this model, it is based on 2005 results, and there have been boundary changes since, it assumes an even swing which probably discriminates against the Lib Dems who claim a positive incumbency factor, and it almost certainly underestimates the Scottish Nationalists. It’s a shame that there is no ‘hover’ over the seats to see which seat is which.

Other potential long or medium term factors i.e. the increasing xenophobia and the rise of UKIP are likely to be under-estimated or ignored. The YouGov report does count and report on the UKIP and SNP voting intentions.

I have placed the you gov news page and the BBC page together with Political Betting’s home page on my Blogroll.

This is already out of date, YouGov published a further poll with field work conducted over the 23rd and 24th May in last weekend’s Sunday Times, with the Tories having stolen 1% from the Liberal Democrats. …

The privatisation of snooping

The BBC reports that a court has ruled that “Blanket” use of the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) may not be compatible with Human Rights Act, and thus with human rights. The CRB was set up to create a single point at which those organisations with a child care duty such as schools, can check the criminal records of those they employ or permit to volunteer. This court case looks at the circumstances of an individual who committed acts when he was 11 that put him on the register. Unlike Denmark, as exposed in Borgen last week, the UK age of criminal responsibility is 10. Hard cases make poor law.

The article does not explore the growing ‘requirement’ by professional services employers without a child care duty to ask for both ask for both CRB reports and to ask for permission to pass these reports on to potential customers. More proof that if you create the database, it will be both hacked and judicially extended. …

Was this the new Black Wednesday?

What a week for economic and political news! Unemployment down, National Income (GDP) Down, IMF & Goldman Sachs say Austerity isn’t working, Clegg and Boris agree and argue for increased capital expenditure (Houses and Transport projects). Is it the turning point in this government’s fortunes? It’s clear Plan A isn’t working and Larry Elliott in the Guardian says it better than I can.

Dave Cameron’s response to this is to say that the Tory party will offer an in/out referendum on Europe in the next Parliament, if he wins a majority. Not sure you’re on the right page. It’s still the economy, stupid! …