Friday, 9 April 2010

A Parliament - Accountable to us, accountable to all of us and accountable only to us.

Accountability is starting to deliver - with FoI blowing open the dark inner workings of our archaic parliamentary system at Westminster.

It is starting to work as we get live twitter feeds during debates and the public summing up and taking further action (open letters, MPs being made aware that we are watching and listening etc). And we are getting a very clear understanding that legislation (the laws to which we are subject) are now being made so complex that those passing them in parliament don't understand them.

We had our 'glorious revolution' in the late 1600's. It established our modern parliamentary system and now (if we chose) we can continue with a 'glorious digital/communications revolution' to call that parliamentary system to the the public's' heel (where it was always meant to be).

It is this new wave of national accountability that makes our old-school MPs uncomfortable and makes the unaccountable, unaudited, EU such an attractive proposition for them.

Ever since I can remember the EU has been 'reforming' - but somehow, it just gets ever further from where it should be.

This revolution isn't complete and shows signs of failing. That failing was clearly demonstrated by the passing of the Digital Economy Bill, passing 'DEBILL' showed a fundamental lack of understanding of digital communications but worse contempt for the public.

This is the same contempt that allowed all parties to promise that we would not be subject to an EU Constitution with out a referendum - but now here we are, subject to the Lisbon Treaty with no referendum having been had.

But if there was nothing left to do then I wouldn't need to get involved by standing for election in the first place.

There is a glorious opportunity here, but it is still only an opportunity, and it could easily slip through our fingers.

Why dig into my own pocket to fund the campaign, turn away clients, flush away my pipeline of upcoming work, take the grief, risk future work opportunities (I hope most people can separate personal, professional and political life, but not all will)?

Why do that for a (reported) 40:1 shot at actually getting elected? And even then, elected to go and work in London, commuting or being allowed to charge for a poky flat - when I already have a great home here with my family, I can work looking out the window at my lovely garden, or nip upstairs and mess around in the studio for a bit when ever I like?

I am doing it because if we miss this opportunity, and my kids eventually ask me what I was doing as it flashed past, Instead of saying "I whinged about it online a bit", I can give them a decent answer "I got off my arse and and gave 100,000 people the chance to have their say".

Whether my kids will ask me this in a UK that is free and independent, run by its people for its people, or whether they will be asking me in the former-UK a minor province of the EU run by EUcrats we have yet to see.

If the people of the UK are galvinised, they can get whatever they want.

The english civil war was the last major opportunity and we made some great strides - moving power from remote unaccountable individuals and groups into a parliament elected by the people.

But that power has been allowed to drift away from parliament to remote unaccountable individuals and groups in brussles. This election is an opportunity to stop that rot and return that power to parliament. Not only that, but to make parliament properly accountable to the people and where possible to put power directly back in the hands of the people.

If we can't make our own parliament accountable, then how on earth does anyone think we can make the eu/brussels accountable?!?!

But if we can make it accountable (and we almost have) then as our parliament it should be accountable to us, accountable to all of us and accountable only to us.

Sunday, 4 April 2010

How a Government Can Avoid Tough Decisions

(or why the government cant damage RNLIs service delivery)

The government it gradually trying to takeover the voluntary sector. Charitable organisations are being sucked into dependency on the public sector.

Personally I find this highly objectionable - charity is an opportunity for individuals to 'do good' for others of their own free will. It is also an opportunity for people to make their own choices about what they want to support, allocating their own money(/time) according to their own principles and beliefs.

Government involvement debases the whole setup - stealing the opportunity for the individual to do good and replacing it with an obligation to support whatever the Government decides is worthy.

If the government is to take on a responsiblity then it should do so properly, funding it fully from taxation, paying market rates (no more, no less) for the resources it consumes in providing the service - whatever it happens to be.

Decisions are tough when you know many people will disagree with them - but let people make their own choices and then the government has no decision to make. They main reason the government has 'tough choices' is because it has chosen to take that decisions itself, putting its own, single choice in place of the many different choices that individuals would have made for themselves.

If there is a role for the state it is in publicising and properly regulating charities, so the public are well informed to be able to make their own choices about what to support.

If, given suitable publicity, a charity does not receive the support it requires then it deserves to fail.

RNLI (http://www.rnli.org.uk/) shows that state funding is not needed even for major emergency services. No government spending cut will ever damage RNLI's ability to deliver its service - as long as people have some money that they can choose how to spend, they can support the services they choose to care for. Cutting tax (involuntary donations) gives people the dignity, responsiblity and reward of making their own voluntary donations as they see fit.

Problems would no longer 'someone elses to deal with' or 'the governments responsiblity' - peoples choices will matter and make a difference, people will matter more - both to themselves and others.

Friday, 2 April 2010

Digital Economy Bill - Freedom vs Regulation - IP reconsidered.

Regardless of how it is dressed up, the main purpose of this bill is to give the Government complete control of the British public's access to the internet. And nowadays that means controlling access to all kinds of news and views from all kinds of sources, even those that the Government doesn't like.

As well as limiting specific individuals access, it provides for an iron curtain to be raised between the internet in the UK and the rest of the world. Giving the government total control over what the British public can and cannot see on the internet from the rest of the world. To pass this bill would to emulate The Peoples Republic of China and its internet filtering. An environment that is so oppressive that Google is currently withdrawing its hardware from China due to state interference.

Once a law is in place, it will be used. You must not and cannot allow laws to be passed and just 'trust' that they will not be abused. The Digital Economy Bill must be thrown out, and the whole issue reconsidered.

We (the honest, decent, British public) would not accept the government deciding whether or not we could use the postal service, nor whether we could have a telephone, a radio or a television, nor whether we read a newspaper - We must not accept them deciding whether or not we are allowed access the internet.

There are already laws against copyright infringement etc. This bill is not needed for that, its real purpose is far more worrying, government control of our communications - this new, cheap, fast, free, independent form of communication 'the internet' - all citizens and political parties who may be in opposition should be very worried.

Should I be elected at the upcoming general election I will fight this bill, and even if already passed, I will seek to remove its intrusions.

Think it couldn't happen?

When there is a taxpayer funded quango who wants to make it law for all social network sites to have *its* button on them to report abuse - and cites the murder of a youngster to support its call, you have to realise that regulation is heading out of control.

It isn't for the want of a taxpayer funded HTML button that insecure youngsters get lured into trouble. If taxpayer money wasn't being consumed by these pointless quangos perusing their misguided technological goals, maybe there would be sufficient resources to address the real problems.

The purpose of intellectual protection was to increase innovation (making it safe to publish, without fear of copying) - if it is stifling innovation then it isn't doing its job and needs to be rethought. That rethink starts with open, honest and frank discussion. It maybe that things *cant* be improved (unlikely but possible) but unless you have the discussion no one is in a position to know.

But that discussion isn't happening - the discussion that did happen was among rich and powerful people with vested interests and it happened behind closed doors.

Thursday, 1 April 2010

ECHR in UK Law - A Square Peg in a Round Hole

A selection of Brighton & Hove PPCs responded to a questionnaire from Brighton and Hove Amnesty International

http://brighton.amnesty.org.uk/content.asp?CategoryID=2628

My view (which aligns with that of UKIP) is that putting ECHR into UK law is trying to force a square (European style) peg in to a round (UK legal system) hole.

This mismatch is clearly demonstrated by the apparent need for draconian, rights infringing legislation by this government to try to knock off the edges off the peg and fill in the gaps in the hole...

Human rights are hugely important, but in the UK we need to decide for ourselves what they cover and how they are to be protected - creating our own round peg to fill the round hole. This is not an option while we remain in the EU.

The only other options are the oppressive mess of legislation that this government have introduced (that keeps turning out to be illegal); or the wholesale abandonment of the UK legal system in favour of an European style system.

The government are currently following the first option, but our membership of the EU (supported by the Conservatives, Labour, Liberal Democrats and Green Party's) is slowly and inevitably bringing in the second option - the exchange of our legal system for an European one.

Our traditional rights, hard won over the centuries by the common working people of England, are being denied us without so much as a 'by your leave', ditched (by the government) in favour of the very alien (and inferior) European system.

And these hard won rights are not airy-fairy theoretical things, they are the very core of our daily freedom - the right not to be locked up with out due cause and process, the right to be judged by ones peers, the very right to go about your own daily lawful business without state interference.