Monthly Archives: November 2012

A dragon's best friend


Some ponderings and questions on what should – and should not be in these documents which will soon be mandatory for all Whitehall departments.

I should declare an interest first in that I’m working on a commission for one department that links to digital media strategies. Cabinet Office recently launched its own digital strategy, which I commented on here. Also, Sir Bob Kerslake confirmed that all Whitehall departments will have to have their own digital strategies.

Sell sell sell!!!!

“No! No! No!” is my response. Some of you may be familiar with my thoughts on social media in a political/policy sphere following the digital wave event I was at. Many of the digital natives I interact with both online and off have come to a similar conclusion about social media:

“Don’t let your marketing people near it”

To which I concur. All too often, they…

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It’s been announced that the new governor of the Bank of England is going to be Mark Carney, currently governor of the Bank of Canada, when his term expires in 2013. George Osborne – who knows Carney through their membership of the secretive ‘Bilderberg group’ of power-brokers – considers him the ‘Carlsberg’ of candidates. BBC News showed him defending Carney’s high salary and saying:

He is quite simply the best, most experienced and most qualified person in the world to be the next governor of the Bank of England and to help Britain’s families and businesses through these difficult economic times.

Probably. So much for the hyperbole. A little research will show that Carney has the confidence of most of the world’s financial community. The same financial community that took us into the mess that ordinary British people are now being expected to pay for.

But what does Carney’s…

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The question is simple.  Will electoral registration become compulsory? An answer in June 2012 from the Cabinet Office is not the ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ we might have expected:

The Electoral Registration and Administration Bill provides that Electoral Registration Officers (EROs) will be able to issue a civil penalty to individuals who, when required to make an application, fail to do so. There will be safeguards in place to ensure that only those who refuse repeated invitations can be fined, and registration officers will have to take specific steps to encourage an application before they can issue a fine. We expect the number of fines levied to be similar to the number of prosecutions for failing to respond to the canvass under the current system, of which there are approximately 150 per year. This will provide strong encouragement for people to do their civic duty and register to vote…

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The decision of the Church of England to reject to entry of Women bishops has predictably prompted calls for government intervention. Quite rightly there is aversion to interfering with the internal theological disputes of a religion but the constitutional reality of the established church in England simply does not allow for ‘a live and let live’ policy.

The suggestion of Chris Bryant, the shadow Borders and Immigration minister and a former Church of England Priest that the government should bring in a moratorium on the appointment of male bishops is not as perverse as it may first appear. With 26 Lords Spiritual in the House of Lords this is not just an issue that can be left to the church legislature itself for its decision has a direct effect on the composition of the upper chamber which is an arm of the State.

Although it is true, for good reason, that the Equality Act provides certain exemptions for religious organisations but the same does not apply to the government. In not directly interfering in a system that prohibits those voting on UK legislation being a certain sex and further skewing the disproportionate preponderance of males in the upper house it is nigh impossible to see how this is not indirectly discriminatory and inconsistent with its public sector equality duty. And that this is allowed to happen means this is not just an issue for the Church of England but for each and every citizen as our laws and the conduct of government is being scrutinised by a legislature formed by discriminatory practices.

Personally, I think the most prudent way out of this mess is the disestablishment of the Church of England but whatever the way out if the House of Lords is to remain give at least a pretence of being a democratic and inclusive chamber the government must act to end the discrimination in so far as it impacts on the public conduct of the Lords Spiritual.

The legal challenges Cameron want to scrap in future

I’m re-blogging an article from the New Statesman by George Eaton. It is about the implications of David Cameron’s plan to abolish equality impact assessments and restrict judicial review. 

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A couple of weeks ago, Labour voted with Tory rebels to pass a motion demanding a cut in Britain’s contribution to the EU budget, after David Cameron had indicated that he’d love to achieve a cut but would accept a freeze. The move drew criticism from some commentators (and naturally from ministers of the defeated government) that instinctively Europhile Labour had acted cynically and tactically in order to inflict a defeat on Cameron.

Well, it’s Labour’s job to do everything it can to oppose, impede, weaken and hasten the end of what is the most radically right-wing and ideologically ambitious government in my lifetime, outstripping even Thatcher in her zeal to dismantle the state and impose an ‘everyone for himself’ regime on this country. It’s also worth noting that, in signalling in advance what he was prepared to accept, Cameron showed himself to be a very poor negotiator – but…

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