Manifesto


For the last few local elections I’ve had no one to vote for. It’s not long until the general election and I’d really rather not have to spoil my ballot paper again, which could be a problem…

Lib Dems

The local Lib Dems are keen to point out that they don’t just appear at election time, which is true. Unfortunately the result is that their newsletters just tend to annoy me a lot more often. The latest front page is all about their opposition to building houses on greenfield land. Now I’m not all that keen on the idea of that either if there are alternatives, but planning seems to be a problem on the brownfield Wildern Mill site as well. (Still resisting the urge to have a real rant about local planning in general, but I’m sure it’s only a matter of time!) There’s also a reminder of previous campaigns, including the fight to stop a gravel pit. The good news is that Eastleigh does have excellent recycling collections for all the newsletters.

I might be more tempted to vote for the Lib Dems on national issues, except they keep reminding me that there isn’t any point.

Conservative

Seem to keep a fairly low profile locally. Either that or they just don’t think I’m likely to vote for them. They often seem to be campaigning for the same things as the Lib Dems. For example, Maria Hutchings’ out of date looking web site also features the fight to protect green spaces and over development.

The Conservatives biggest plus point nationally is that they aren’t Labour, and they could win the next election.

Labour

They appear on the ballot paper but I have no idea what they think about local issues. Nationally, they seem to have put the unelected evil Lord Mandelson in charge, so there’s no chance I’ll be voting for them. If Mandelson keeps coming back, he’s not getting the message.

RON

There was UKIP as well last time but otherwise we don’t seem to get much more choice in Eastleigh. Not even an option to reopen nominations to give the candidates/parties pause for thought. So who can I vote for. One idea bubbling away in the back of my mind for a while is that I could vote for myself- I’d just need to get on the ballot paper.

That was all before the Digital Economy Bill, which was beginning to look like it would go through without any real opposition. What can you do when none of the parties support your views? The Digital Economy Bill might still sneak through without the scrutiny it requires, handily under the cover of an election campaign so, while I would rather not stand in the election, I haven’t ruled it out completely. Scarily, I’ve already been offered the £500 deposit and a nomination! My manifesto would be simple: to stand down at the earliest opportunity. So a vote for me would be a vote for RON. Yes, a single issue candidate, but one who it’s safe to vote for. Does anyone want to join the RON party? A good way to register frustration with politicians and draw attention to the Digital Economy Bill, or a waste of time and money?

Update: Eastleigh News have a handy guide to my competition. I wonder if anyone else is thinking of standing.

Update: It’s now too late to register a new party, which is a shame- I was thinking that “For The Win” would look good on the ballot paper! There is still time left to stand for election, but after much consideration I don’t think there is really enough time to go for it this election. If I did stand, I would want to do it justice and put in some serious work, otherwise it would basically be an expensive way to spoil my ballot paper! I would need to think about my current job, properly research the mechanics of submitting nominations and the rules that govern candidates. I would also need to check that I could actually deliver on my manifesto pledge and stand down immediately in the unlikely event I won! (I just assumed that would be possible, but while chatting to my campaign team someone pointed out that it might not be possible, so definitely worth finding out. I wouldn’t want to be one of those parties that make all sorts of promises which they don’t keep!) Then there would be the small matter of attempting to get at least 5% of the vote!! Still, depending on how bad the next batch of MPs are, you might see a few “For The Win” candidates in the next election! Just leave a comment if you would like to be one of them! (13 April 2010)

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Digital House Arrest


The Digital Economy Bill is exactly the kind of ill-considered law I have come to expect from the current government, however I am very disappointed in the apparent lack of opposition from the other parties.

Today I received a reply from my MP, Chris Huhne, following my email and letter to him about the bill, unfortunately I had already read the same response on the Liberal Democrat Voice before his letter arrived. I appreciate the time he took to reply but the LibDem team will only be getting half a cheer from me, and here’s why.

Chris begins his letter by largely supporting the Digital Economy Bill, stating that many aspects of the bill are vitally important to the UK’s creative industries. Having read the bill, I just don’t believe that. For a start, the bill has very little to do with a digital economy, containing a pick ‘n’ mix of barely related clauses (‘wide ranging’ in politician speak):

Tinkering with Television and Radio Broadcasting Bill

Chris is happy that the bill changes Channel 4’s remit, changes regional news on ITV and plans to make all my analog radios useless. Apart from buying new radios to listen to the same thing, will anyone notice? There’s also some stuff in there on radio licenses and it looks like the days of teletext are numbered.

Are you Really Old Enough to be Playing that Video Game Bill

Chris also supports classification of computer games. Well at least anyone who isn’t old enough will know which games to get hold of to impress their mates.

We are Aware There are Some Problems with Copyright Laws and This is the Best we Could Come up with Bill

The Liberal Democrats support the creative industries, so I’m puzzled that Chris doesn’t even mention the “Extension and regulation of licensing of copyright and performers’ rights” clause. Strangely, some current copyright holders don’t seem too keen to get this kind of support. I’m not surprised given how little respect some creative industries have for copyright already. Public lending also gets a spit and polish for audio books and e-books.

So from my quick flick through, that’s all the vitally important parts of the bill (?) leaving…

Enforcing Copyright Yourself is Just Such a Bore Bill

Before going any further, I should make it absolutely clear that I am not fundamentally opposed to copyright law, and I actually work in an industry where copyright protection is important. That said, I personally think that copyright laws should be an incentive for the creative industries to, well, create new content. I have been concerned for a long time that neither the public nor creative individuals get a particularly fair deal from the current arrangements. As with the law in general, the odds are stacked in favour of people with the most money and this bill only makes matters worse.

Without any new legislation, the creative industries should already be able to take action against illegal downloading using the internet, in the same way they can take action regardless of how the illegal copyright material was obtained. Apparently that’s not good enough, so under the guise of a digital economy bill, they want new powers to protect the old economy.

There are plenty of things the creative industries could do to help themselves. I suggest that first on the list for them to try would be to stop treating their paying customers with such contempt. I hope they’ve already stopped installing dangerous software on my computer without my permission, but how about competing with the pirates to make watching a DVD more enjoyable, or allowing me to watch a DVD I’ve paid for where ever I want to, or not changing your mind after you sold me something? With this kind of behaviour I would expect any changes of the law to include more regulation for the creative industries, not more protection for them. It’s ironic that none of the quarter of a million creative people who’s jobs are allegedly at risk can come up with some better ideas, especially given that they really should have the most to gain from a digital economy.

Access to the internet may not be a fundamental right, but how can you seriously expect to have a digital economy if people are at risk of digital house arrest? As I told Chris Huhne, I don’t believe disconnection is a proportional response even if it did only effect one person, who was proved to have downloaded something illegally beyond reasonable doubt. Would you stop someone leaving their house if they came home from the market with counterfeit jeans? How can we have a digital economy when a single industry has a veto over whether any other industry can do business with their customers over the internet? Access to online government services? No. Online bank account? No. Paperless billing? Think again. Internet shopping? Not any more. Working at home? Time for a holiday. NHS Direct? Please phone… unless you’re using Skype of course. Smart metering? The lights are on but no-one’s home.

This is by no means a full discussion of the issues, but then I’m not in parliament where all of these issues and more should be getting some serious debate. Sadly there’s a chance no one will be able to have that debate in parliament. Oh well, good luck UK plc, you’re going to need it.

Update: A few related posts generated manually to go with the ones WordPress found. (28 March 2010)

Update: A couple of Guardian articles on the Digital Economy Bill (31 March 2010)

Update: A depressing day following the #debill debate, but a found a few more articles along the way. (6 April 2010)

After today’s idiotic debate in parliament, I wonder if more people might be tempted to stand for election to show politicians that they can’t just push whatever they like through parliament when no one is looking. The close of nominations is 4 pm on Tuesday 20 April 2010 and for a coordinated effort there’s a deadline of 12 April 2010 to register a new party. Just a thought.

Update: No big surprise that the bill went through the washup, demonstrating the poor state of the UK democracy along the way. (8 April 2010)

Let’s just hope that candidates get some tough questions on the subject when they’re out campaigning.

Update: The morning after… (9 April 2010)

And finally, someone who will be keeping my vote: TalkTalk!