Tag Archives: democracy

The BBC Trust

“The extent to which the audience feels its trust betrayed … bodes ill for the BBC.  In the long term the loser will be public-service broad­casting itself ;  the winners the revengists of ‘old’ New Labour.”

Photo of Dr. Robert Frew

Dr Robert Frew reflects on the role of the BBC Trust

BBC Trust Chairman Sir Michael Lyons has recently revealed he will not seek to be re-appointed in the role when his four-year term ends next May.

A few weeks ago, in a letter to Jeremy Hunt, Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport, Sir Michael said the Trust was robust, workable and effective … with much remaining to be done.  So what of the background that led to the formation of the BBC Trust and its future ?

Birth of the Trust

The BBC Trust replaced the BBC’s Board of Governors in January 2007.  The Government said it was intended to ensure an “unprecedented obligation to openness and transparency”.  But one of its first announcements was that the BBC Trust would review the corporation’s UK news coverage, which, whilst seeming even-handed to some, was seen by others as an insidious first step to totalitarianism :  more like a politburo’s flexing its muscles.

Back in the time of Sir John Birt, BBC Director-General (DG) from 1992 to 2000 (now Lord Birt and blue-sky thinker), decisions were made to shift ultimate editorial control from managing editors to the DG.  In retrospect one can only conjecture whether there was pressure from the Government at that time.  Yet, despite a bitter strike by journalists, the transfer of editorial control went ahead.

Continue reading The BBC Trust

Ski helmets have a lesson for us … on ‘localism’

schilaufer

~~~~~

Boris Johnson rails against the centralization of power that has caused the cost of government to rise like a rocket, saying the sensible way forward is to simplify and devolve.

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In an article in The Daily Telegraph Boris Johnson admits — despite the economic rigours the population generally is suffering — to going ski-ing.  He does claim in mitigation that it was a cut-price affair with, as he puts it, “home-made sandwiches for lunch, washed down with eau de robinet”.

It is not, he says, just that he loves ski-ing and is addicted to hurling himself down the slopes and that his children are quite keen.  A collateral purpose drove him to take this vacation :  journalistic research.

Continue reading Ski helmets have a lesson for us … on ‘localism’

Democracy in cyberspace … or mob rule ?

Internet debate can be coarse
— says Boris Johnson —


cross hairs

but it really does hold journalists and politicians to account. 

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But enough of me.  Let’s talk about you.  Or rather, let’s talk about the small minority of you who not only read but respond to these columns — sitting up late in America, rising early in Hong Kong.  I mean the great caffeine-powered, keyboard-hammering community of online thinkers who contribute with such richness to the cyberspace jabberama. 

Continue reading Democracy in cyberspace … or mob rule ?

Liberal Conservatism and The Plight of the Lonely

there are so many people who never have a sense of communal exhilaration

according to a recent survey a sense of social isolation is the number one problem of our lives

we need to start actively re-knitting the coalition of British society

Dear oh dear, it’s just as well I never said anything rude about the Lib Dems, eh? What? Did I say that? You mean I once accused them of being a bunch of euro-loving road-hump-fetishists who changed their opinions in mid-stream like so many hermaphroditic parrotfish? And are you telling me that senior Lib Dem sources are accusing me of being a Eurosceptic classics crank? Dear oh dear.

Well, I am sure we can put it all behind us, because there was something about the amazing events of last week that has filled the nation – me included – with a giddy helium-lunged feeling of hope. We looked at that scene in the Downing Street garden – the dappled sunlight, the blossom floating past – and we saw an extraordinary partnership being forged. They were David and Jonathan. They were Achilles and Patroclus. They were Gilbert and George. They were Wallace and Gromit. And you know what, I truly believe it can work, must work, will work.

Of course, there will be strains, and the media will try to pull it apart, but over the next few weeks and months the two parties will discover that there is real content to the idea of liberal conservatism, wherever you put the capital letters, and that there is much more that unites them than they ever dreamt possible.

Continue reading Liberal Conservatism and The Plight of the Lonely

With cat-like tread the revenue we steal

[The Chorus of Labour M.P.s]
With catlike tread
    The revenue we steal ;
Influence ped
    d-ling is our new deal.
Of the truth
    We never speak a word ;
And Sterling’s fall
    can be distinctly heard.

[The Chorus of Lobbyists]
Taxi ! Tara !
Taxi ! Tara !

[Labour M.P.s]
So stealthily the tax-men creep
    While all across the country sleep.

Come, friends
    who used to be
Leaders of the nation
    (At a higher station),
Let’s add mendacity
    To our daylight robbery.

Gold reserves
    There used to be :
Backing for the nation ;
    Protection from inflation.
Gordon sold the lot, you seeee ;
    Now we’re up a royal gum tree.

[Geoff Samuel]
Tell them you’re a show-off
    — For so can you deny it.

Were I a keen observer …
    But no, I’m just a git !
There are some catches
    In our dark prince’s sleaze ;
Take our files
    And be sure to shred them, please !

[Lobbyists]
Taxi ! Tara !
[Labour M.P.s]
With catlike tread
[Lobbyists]
Taxi ! Tara !
[Labour M.P.s]
    The price of bread

With catlike tread
    The revenue we steal ;
Influence ped
    d-ling is our new deal.
Of the truth
    We never speak a word ;
And Sterling’s fall
    can be distinctly heard.

[Lobbyists]
Taxi ! Tara ! &c.

[Labour M.P.s]
Come, friends
    who used to be
Leaders of the nation
    (At a higher station),
Let’s add mendaciteeee
    To our daylight robberee.

With catlike tread
    The revenue we steal ;

Influence ped
    d-ling is our new deal !

My thanks again to the
University of Iowa Summer Opera
ΠΞ

A ‘scientist’ — engaged in his employment …

A ‘scientist’ — engaged in his employment
            his employment
    And maturing his felonious little plans
            little plans
’Though he likes to interfere with your enjoyment,
            your enjoyment
    Wants a pension just like any honest man’s.
            honest man’s

Our data we with difficulty smother,
            -culty smother
    When F.O.I.* reports are to be done ;
            to be done
Ah, take one consideration with another :
            with another
    A fraudster’s lot is not a happy one.

Ah-ah …….

When F.O.I. reports are to be done, to be done,
    A fraudster’s lot is not a happy one.
            happy one

When the A.C.C.† alarmist’s not a-warming —
            not a-warming
    The carbon market closed just for the time
            for the time
He just loves to blame humanity for storming
            -ty for storming
    And listen to the cash register chime.
            -gister chime

When the fraudster’s busy fiddling the data,
            -ling the data
    He ignores the very function of the sun ;
            of the sun
But his e-mail will be found a little later,
            little later
    So the fraudster’s lot is not a happy one.

Ah-ah …….

When F.O.I. reports are to be done, to be done,
    A fraudster’s lot is not a happy one.
            happy one

* F.O.I. :  a reference to requests under the Freedom of Information Act, 2000, as amended
† Anthropogenic Climate Change (chosen to fit the metre)

My thanks to the University of Iowa Summer Opera with Jon Meadows as the Sergeant of Police — ΠΞ

Boris on Question Time

Watch Question Time this Thursday 4th March on BBC 1 at 10.35pm

Question Time, the BBC’s premier political debate programme comes from Canary Wharf this week.  David Dimbleby will be joined in London by Boris Johnson, Liberal Democrat peer Shirley Williams, broadcaster Carol Vorderman, the novelist Will Self and the Transport Secretary Lord Adonis.

Question Time will be available on BBC iPlayer after transmission.

It will also be repeated on BBC Parliament on Sunday evening at 6pm.

Will Gordon Brown return to No. 10?

 

I love newspaper headlines, the way that they shout at you competitively from the stand on a Sunday morning – imploring your attention like a bunch of gape-mouthed nestlings. I have always admired the art with which the headline writer will take the story before him and bleach it of conditionals, sharpening and condensing and pushing it to the limit of credibility so that the faltering fingers of the deluded consumer will feel unable to resist. And yet in all my years of knowing chuckling at the headlines, I don’t think I have ever come across such a brazen confection of suggestio falsi and suppressio veri as appeared yesterday in large print across one of the Sundays. “Brown on course to win election,” it said.

When I had regained my breath, I thought of some other propositions the headline writer might have touted – with an equal measure of foundation. How about “Pope on course to win Wimbledon”? Or “Simon Heffer on course to win Miss World”?

I have an answer for all those befuddled by the recent mutability of the polls. May I direct you to Betfair, a political betting website that in my experience is almost uncanny in its accuracy. Here you are looking at the predictions that people are willing to defend with their own money, and the money is still overwhelmingly on the Tories. The single most likely outcome – and you can actually watch as the bets go down and the stakes mount up – is that the Tories will have a comfortable overall majority, easily enough to govern for five years. As for the idea that Gordon Brown ‘s Labour Party could win the election, with an overall majority – that possibility has been flatlining for months at between five and 10 per cent. The reason I trust the punters of Betfair more than I trust a poll in a Sunday paper is that the punters have thought it through with the care of those investing their own money.

They have put themselves in the position of the tens of millions of sensible men and women who will be going to the polling stations in the next few weeks. The gamblers have focused hardheadedly on the reality of the choice.

There you are on May 6 (or whenever), pencil poised. Are you really going to give Gordon Brown another five years in Downing Street? This is a Government that has spent the past two years lurching disastrously from one abortive putsch to another. One by one, they have stepped up to plunge the rubber dagger into his impervious back, from Clarke to Hoon to Hewitt to Alistair Darling himself, while the atmosphere has become so poisonous that some talents – Siôn Simon and James Purnell, for example – have not only abandoned their ministerial careers, but given up on the Commons altogether.

Do we really want another five years of the holepunch-hurling horror of Gordon Brown’s management style? Do we want the Downing Street switchboard to be endlessly jammed with people bleating to some “bullying helpline”? Is this any way to run a country? And that is just froth compared to the real charges against Labour.

If Gordon Brown is on course to win the election, then Elvis Presley is on course to win The X Factor and Shergar to win the Grand National.

For more news, comment and to read this article in full go to The Daily Telegraph

Gordon Brown and Alternative Voting

Downing Street has admitted “time is tight” to get laws for a referendum on scrapping Britain’s first past the post voting system through Parliament.  Gordon Brown wants to replace it with “alternative vote,” where candidates are ranked in order of preference.  The Prime Minister says this is a better way of choosing MPs but the Conservatives say the existing method is fair and “keeps extremists out”. 

To continue Boris’s theme of voting methods here is a latest offering from Dungeekin who thinks we should have a little song in honour of the debate:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k4AL5weuhFs&feature=player_embedded

  Continue reading Gordon Brown and Alternative Voting

Peter Mandelson, President of the Board of Trade

It is not often that fate hands you what appears to be a total moral and political victory. But this one looked like a slam dunk. As some of the world’s most self-important people descended last week on the World Economic Forum in Davos, I was delighted to find myself on the same plane as Peter Mandelson, President of the Board of Trade, deputy prime minister and Lord High Everything Else.

I was thrilled, that is, because my colleague and I were travelling steerage, in keeping with the new spartan regime at City Hall. Mandy and his entourage, of course, were flying sharp end; and as we struggled on down the aisle they subjected us to a certain amount of jocular raillery. They would send us some food, they scoffed, and perhaps a glass of champagne.

Continue reading Peter Mandelson, President of the Board of Trade