Saturday, 30 April 2011

None of the Above...

As the local elections hove into the media spotlight this week after the distraction of the royal wedding, I just wonder if its time to revisit the old chestnut of a "none of the above" option on the ballot paper. Maybe it should be named the "I won't vote for any of you, provide me with a candidate who I feel has the policies and personality to properly represent me" option.

Because honestly, with so many people not bothering to vote, the question has to be asked again: why is it that we don't have election candidates that move voters to vote? Is it the party system? Is it their policies? Is it just the wrong type of person being put forward as candidates? Just what would get people to vote?

I doubt very much that a change to the AV system would change things, which is why I'm voting no to AV.

Would a random local resident, plucked from obscurity like a jury member placed on the candidate list as an alternative to those desperate to join local politics motivate people to vote for them?

I do know I don't have the answer and I'm equally sure changing to AV isn't it either. But what would get people more involved in chosing the people that run their lives?

Maybe thats the answer: that they don't understand that these people will run their lives for them, or maybe they just don't care until it adversely affects them in some way. Maybe thats why politicians get away with so much.

Maybe I'm rambling too much today as my sinuses are playing up (thank you Mrs D. for your loving gift of that virus you had last week).

Friday, 29 April 2011

New Paradigms in Policing

New paradigms in Policing seem to be being set in place recently. For whatever reason, the Police are attending operations in disproportionately greater numbers than before, responding dissent with a disproportionately violent response, or even arresting people before no crime has been committed.

For example the farce last week in Bristol, where heavy-handed Police thugs decided to attend what should have been a simple eviction in huge numbers, triggering an understandable questioning public response, which waqs then responded to by the Police in a most disporportionate manner. Now this week's protest about the Police thuggery has been met yet again with a heavy-handed response.

Then we have Charlie Veitch of the Love Police being arrested before any crime is committed, charged with "conspiracy to cause a public nuisance", whatever that is. Maybe if this suddenly-found power of arrest before someone went out and made loud noises in public were applied more often to more every-day nuisances, the Police might just have more sympathy from me. As it is, they just come over as heavy-handed thugs yet again.

This new policy of over-reaction doesn't seem to be limited to England either: Police in Glasgow send in the horses to break up an "illegal" street party in a park. It looks like the Police decided to break up an unofficial party in Kelvingrove Park, but the party-goers told them to go away in no uncertain terms. The Police decided then to send in the horses to break up the gathering. Why the heavy-handed tactics yet again? Why not just do as is normally done at raves and the like, with a Police cordon turning new arrivals away and making sure anyone leaving doesn't come back?
I do love the bit in the report from the council noting that official organisers need to do health and safety stuff and have insurance. In this case totally irrelevant because it wasn't organised as such: just a few thousand people turned up of their own free will.

But back to the point: there seems very recently a change in policing, with far more "robust" tactics involved in dealing with public gatherings and individuals suspected of causing a nuisance. Were I conspiracy theorist, I'd say it was a deliberate attempt to whip up trouble where non existed in order to justify the continued funding of the Police on its current massive scale.

Today's Royal Wedding: Who gives a Monkeys?

As the nation basks in an expensive historical irrelevant sideshow today, spare a thought for those people, like me who have to work during the whole bank holiday. No legally sanctioned national holiday this, so employers have no obligation to allow the day off.

So mine haven't. No day off, time and a half, double time, nor time in lieu. Our employers have deigned this to be just an ordinary working day for us plebs.

To those that get the day off, I hope it pisses down of the lot of ya! Then possibly I woun't feel as hard done by as I did today as visitor after visitor joyfully expressed how they weren't working on this supposed "joyful" occasion.

I shall not be joyful until 6pm.

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

The Media Narrative and Who Controls it.

The ever excellent EU Referendum has a post on the way the media set the agenda for public debate.

But what Richard fails to notice is this is an age-old issue. For as long as I've been alive, the media has never been unbiased; from the broadsheets to the BBC, there has always been an agenda and its always been a mission to gather independent perspectives.

I remember in my late teens in the late seventies becoming interested in Short Wave Radio and the access it gave to broadcasters from many countries. What they provided were alternative viewpoints on world news. Sure, they were biased in their own way but that was ok. The intelligent thing was to listen to the UK media and its international counterparts and come to an independant viewpoint, one which was usually some way between the two.

It is something that I have never lost. Listening to Radio Moscow, the tractor stats would be interspersed with an alternative viewpoint on the latest global flashpoint. Always over the top, but comparing Moscow with the BBC World Service, the truth would appear somewhere between the two.

Today, thanks to the internet and satellite TV, there are thousands of alternative viewpoints for independent thinkers to sample. As with Short Wave Radio all those decades ago, the truth might not necessarily lie with any particular source: its up to the listener/watcher/reader to investigate those sources and then come to an independent viewpoint.

One thing I can say is that although the UK media was still biased back in the seventies, its a lot worse today than it was back then. It seems the increase in the number of outlets has decreased the quality of reporting.

Apart from the internet that is. Right now, the 'net is the last bastion of the independent thinker.

Long may it last.