Thursday, 11 June 2009

Democracy is fragile . . .

My MP Jeremy Corbyn, Labour, for Islington North at

came to speak at our local ward meeting last evening. It was just a low-key reponse after the Euro-elections last Thursday. You know, the one where less than 10 % of the electorate voted Labour, the BNP got their first European MEP's and the Tories swept the board with new Conservative councillors and councils all over the UK.
There was scope for anguish and despair there. We took a different tack at the meeting. Yes, of course Parliament and the legislative process must address the MP's allowances row which has overshadowed all other political debate ever since the Telegraph broke the scandal weeks ago.
Jeremy spoke for a half hour, about the parliamentary Labour party meeting with Gordon Brown on Monday, and about the various activities in the two houses in the past week or two, and about the way that the party has lost its core philosophy under New Labour.
Orders-in-Council were mentioned as undermining the democratic process, in the same way that the Prime Minister's ability to appoint non-elected advisors and ministers to suit him or her took away the elected representatives' voice in Parliament. There were questions and commentaries from the fifty stalwart comrades, and we wound up after another hour of debate.
Jeremy said that we're looking ahead to a very interesting year in poitics. The chair mentioned a new book just out
The Life and death of Democracy by John Keane
I asked where we could find a forum to follow the arguments for and against the various new proposals for the reform of Parliament. Jeremy suggested

democracy 88, which might be at

the Tribune group, some info about which is at‘get-rich’-bankers/ and at

Jeremy said that Labour offered the voters HOPE, whilst the rise of the extreme right (the BNP, and other extreme-right groups which benefitted from voter support right across Europe last week) would offer the electorate only FEAR. We have a valuable local constituency link between our local MP and the way he or she can deal with local issues which affect voters locally, as well as their ability to contribute to national legislation and debate.
This was compared and contrasted with the way the European MEP's are elected; that is, you vote for the party, not the candidate; proportional vote counting allows the selection of an MEP who may have no links with you or your ideas, which is what happens in the Netherlands and elsewhere. Of course, democracy works there as well, but here in England we know who we are voting for; if they win the election, we can talk to them about our problems in their weekly surgery. They will listen to our concerns and act on our behalf.
To overcome the current state of voter apathy and disgust, the Parliamentary process must address local issues. An early debate on these issues is needed, so that when the election finally rolls up in a year's time, local people have been involved in the discussions about how to reform our democratic process.
Better than watching telly.

Sunday, 7 June 2009

How a nasty man got away with it the first time . . .

Often, a heinous crime is too horrible to repeat the details of . . . it's that convicted serial sex attacker Reid, the one who got away with assault and sexual assault 100 times . . .
Kathy Lette was on a jury about fifteen years ago, which acquitted Reid, on the basis of the evidence and the judge's directions. Court procedure was mystifying to the jurors, which may have aided the defendant. The victim's life fell apart. Read more at

You can find out more about Ms Lette at

BB v getting into government . . .

Saves you reading the entire paper, to find out what's going on in the UK . . .
from today's London Sunday Times (yes, I know, it's News International . . . at )