Monthly Archives: October 2013

Launch the G but promote Hope not Hopi

I was going to congratulate the Guardian, a paper which has sometimes annoyed me for its snobbery and anti Royalist views, for its courage in standing alone amongst the British papers and covering  PRISM and Tempora. I was going to say how I was saddened by the tone the Independent is taking and how it no longer lives up to its name. I was impressed by today’s Guardian for citing quality papers around the world on its stance of printing Snowden’s revelation, and their reaction to all the other British papers attacking the Guardian for doing so. No other British paper or magazine was cited. I was about to say how I wish there was a “G” to rival the i, a mini version of the Guardian, and how I am sorry there are no comparable British newspapers.

And then I read today’s Hopi Sen article on welfare and I wondered which website I was on. Did my hand slip and I typed “Torygraph” instead of Guardian? The majority of the comments – and there are many, already over 200 – showed that Hopi is not the voice of the newspaper’s readership or the public, despite what he claimed. He tries to present his ideas as unarguable. His words both frightened and angered me.  Interventions….! He clearly has no idea, and neither has the comment poster who thinks that long term unemployment is about a lack in social skills, education, mental health and drugs. The jobseeking system is about pigeonholing, drop down menus, and is ignorant that lots of people who are healthy and intelligent do not meet it. It cares little about matching people to appropriate jobs, and I have met many graduates (even PhD holders) who found themselves offered silly, inappropriate roles that would not benefit them or the company. There are some very capable literate people who struggle to work enough to be self sufficient. One comment poster said that Tories don’t empathise with there being no jobs because they’d create ones for themselves by starting a business. Yes, create your own job in principle – but this involves money, and if you do not have it – and the right support – it is very very hard to do. It’s made worse by most of us having less money to spend so that new businesses they may not be sustainable. And the self made rich are often the hardest on claimants and the ones whose empires crush others and push round the capitalist wheel.

I would like to have shared some of this with the Guardian website itself, but this paragraph in the terms and conditions precluded me:

“You or the owner of the content still own the copyright in the content sent to us, but by submitting content to us, you are granting us an unconditional, irrevocable, non-exclusive, royalty-free, fully transferable, perpetual worldwide licence to use, publish and/or transmit, and to authorise third-parties to use, publish and/or transmit your content in any format and on any platform, either now known or hereinafter invented.”

This all too common phrase  regarding reader comments and other submissions should be as illegal as industrial snooping and forced labour.

Why not say – the content’s yours but you give us the right to publish it on any of our sites, but you can delete it. And we will Not sell or pass it on?

Taking people’s work without pay is the bottom line of much of our welfare issues, for too many of us do not get rewarded for what we do – hence my campaign against use of  internships and volunteers. The issue of big companies imposing their values on the public and taking away their rights and ownership is behind many major imbalances in this world which urgently needs addressing.

I’d like to think that the Guardian led the way on that, as it has on other recent issues.

PS Why ask for letter writer’s address and phone no for verification – isn’t that the kind of snooping the paper rallies against?!

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Get the accent right in films!

I’ve just seen a film which brought out this ongoing bugbear. Would we put up with Irish being confused with Scots in a drama?! Accents are part of a region’s identity, as much as a nation’s. It is insulting that for every rural English location, film characters have the same generic poor West Country accent. It’s usually small supporting roles of people who are workers – the farmers, the lady in the shop, the guesthouse owner, the servants. And it serves to make idiots out of all rural people – a bit like American south often comes across. Whereas other parts of Britain have reclaimed their accent with pride, it still seems that those of us with a country voice are considered rustic and thick and a little bit amusing. Dialect coaches are employed by film companies and yet they get this so badly wrong -how do they get work?! I had been in Bristol a few weeks and I could hear the difference between North (Gloucs) and South (Somerset) and that people in Devon spoke differently again. So how can a dialect expert not hear that East Anglians have quite a distinctive accent, and that Norfolk and Suffolk do not sound the same as each other, let alone the whole of south and middle England! I also am surprised the actors can’t pick up on accents more, especially when they even film in the area – can’t they hear how people around them are talking? Can’t they consult someone who can? It spoiled the film. And it’s not just an accuracy issue, but a ruralist one, and about not seeing the East as a real region worth respecting.

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Watching the watchers

The Guardian wondered why there’s not a bigger outcry over the GCHQ/NSA public spying revelations. A quick search shows that news sites across the world are talking about it. I would like to make clear that we (royal if need be) are not at all happy or prepared to accept the situation. I admire The Guardian for speaking out and am delighted that GCHQ will be taken to the court of European rights and hope the US and other affected countries does likewise. I think this calls for some questions about the accountability and purpose of secret services. Australia’s Green Party has some interesting ideas and also defines what national security should really be about. I ask: how can you be legitimate or moral if your actions compromise your supposed reason for being – namely, to keep us safe and free in a country run by the people in a transparent way, we lose basic rights in all the above? It’s a paradox that cannot be.

The title comes from the tagline of British MI5 drama, Spooks.

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My Proposed Austerity Law Cuts

Those who endorse David Cameron’s latest rounds of proposed cuts show themselves to be ignorant and are being tools of the government’s propaganda. It’s so harsh and ridiculous that it barely requires or deserves comment, except to show how far removed the government is from people, and how cruel. This idea of feckless shirkers – certainly for most – is utter rubbish; and comes from the financially secure, or the unambitious, and those very much part of the system. Anyone who cares what they do and doesn’t fit the drop down menus at the job centre might find that work-finding is rather more difficult, and the greater the cuts, the less jobs, the less funding, and yet higher debts…

I’d like to pass a law that all prime ministers and their cabinet who have been in power for over 2 years and who weren’t elected, and who damage the country, should resign with immediate effect and no severance package. I suspect the public would support that in droves. And perhaps Cameron might have to face his own austerity messages.

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