Sunday, December 2nd, 2012

miss_s_b: (Default)
miss_s_b: Vince Cable's happy face (Politics: Vince - happy face)
We had a discussion in the office Saturday morning. It was a wide-ranging and occasionally sweary discussion. It touched on Leveson, CCDP, access to justice, housing and many other areas. And at the end of it, we reached a conclusion. The conclusion was this:

The problem with Lib Dems in government* is that they don't listen to or trust the people who know what they are talking about.

For example, I am not a big economics geek, but I know enough about it to know it's important and to know who IS a big geek and which of them to trust ([personal profile] matgb is one, Richard Flowers another. Another example, on IT systems, I know a bit, but not as much as someone like Zoe O'Connell. On science, there's the magnificent Huppmeister. On digital rights, there's Dave Page. I could go on, but you get the idea.

When one is in power, the trick is NOT to try to become and expert on everything, because that isn't humanly possible. The trick is to surround yourself with people you can trust who are experts in the various fields you need to make decisions on.

Now theoretically, this should be easy in the Lib Dems. We have lots of experts, and lots of internal party committees that they can join or be elected to which would theoretically smooth their communication with the party leadership and the parliamentarians. Even better, our leader recognised before we went into coalition that going native when surrounded by civil servants might be an issue, and warned us to keep an eye on him (and the other parliamentarians) for it. And we have lots of councillors and council leaders who have experience of officers trying to control them and methods of avoiding it.

So if we have the people who can solve the problem, and a leadership which is alive to the problem, why is the problem still happening?

I think it boils down to trust. Somehow the leadership and MPs have lost trust in the people who know what they are doing within the party and started to listen to the siren call of those who have been embedded in the Westminster Bubble for decades. This is something that members of our party who are/have been in local government leadership positions predicted; those Westminster Bubble types have years of experience of persuading MPs that they need to listen to them and nobody else.

Communication between the leadership and the experts within the party has got more distant and one way, despite the best efforts of the experts, because the parliamentarians have started to believe that the civil service knows better. Emails from the leadership have become steadily more patronising and mansplainy as we get further from 2010. And this isn't going to change because I (or anyone else) has a moan about it.

To be honest, although I can see the problem, I don't have the first clue what to do about it. Any of yoou lot have any bright ideas?



* not all of them, and not all of the time, but enough of them enough of the time to make it systemic
miss_s_b: (Fanigrling: Rumpole)
The Facts:
  • The press have behaved atrociously.

  • The behaviour is not all journalists, but is systemic across all the papers, although it's worse at the tabloids than the broadsheets.

  • The police have been reluctant to arrest journalists, even when they quite blatantly break the law.

  • Politicians have been reluctant to offend the press for fear of losing elections.

  • There are lots of laws which could have been applied to most of the situations people have a problem with - both in terms of the stuff that was printed and the corrupt relationships between politicians, police and media - nobody enforced them.

  • The press are losing influence and sales because of the rise of the internet and any system of press regulation which may or may not be put into place right now will be out of date within months.

  • This is making them panic and they think that if they can't keep on perving over the 14 year old daughters of celebrities and lying about people who can't afford to sue them they will lose more money faster - IMHO this is probably true. Far more people are interested in pap shots of 14 year old with budding tits than they are in the minutiae of political corruption scandals.

  • Nobody* thinks that political control of the media is desirable.

  • Nobody* wants the libel laws beefed up because they already encourage libel tourism and the promotion of The Golden Rule**

  • Equally, nobody* thinks that continuing on as before is acceptable and we're all agreed that Something Must Be Done - but all of the proposed solutions have downsides, either giving too much power to politicians or not curbing the ridiculous excesses of the press and nobody is happy with any of them.
You can see why I referred to this as a Gordian knot in the title, amirite? But unlike the previous post, I do actually have a proposed solution. A nice simple solution. A solution that doesn't involve any new statutes***, and doesn't involve letting the press off the hook.

Sounds too good to be true, doesn't it? Possibly it is. I'm sure if there are holes to be picked, you lot will manage it... My proposed solution is this:

Add press complaints to the raft of things which legal aid is available for. At the core of this, it's an access to justice issue. The press will happily defame people who can't afford to sue, and given that probably we're in a triple dip recession, and that legal aid has been cut drastically and repeatedly of late, this is only going to get worse. However, although the entire legal aid budget is set by politicians, they have no say over what it gets spent on. If we're worried about FatCatLawyersGettingRichOffOurTaxes we can always fund charities like CAB to make initial assessments - CAB are VERY good at the legal stuff, when they aren't starved of funds - and it wouldn't involve any corrupt appointments.

If the police refuse to prosecute papers who break the law, let us bring private prosecutions.
If the PCC can't or won't adjudicate on something, or their adjudication is ignored by the papers, let us take them to court.

Let the courts impose fines.
Let the courts impose SPECIFIC PERFORMANCE REMEDIES.
Let the journos and newspaper owners who ignore the law of the land and the rulings of the courts be sent to prison (and frankly I won't lose any sleep if Frazer Nelson is first in the queue).

Of course, the reason nobody is going to go for this is that Leveson is a huge political football which all parties are enjoying kicking around, whilst opining that all they are bothered about is THUHVICTIMS or THUHFREEDUMOFTHEPRESS and I genuinely believe that police, politicans AND press would all be happiest papering over the cracks and carrying on as normal with their corrupt and cosy relationships.

The question is, are they going to get away with that? Again?****



* Nobody with any sense, that is.
** (S)he who has the gold makes the rules
*** possibly a couple of statutory instruments, maybe...
**** sadly I think the answer to that is probably "yes", because of the golden rule detailed above.
miss_s_b: (Fangirling: Cthulhu the Six!Fan)
Things I have seen of late and wish to blog about:

Jack Dee, live at the Victoria theatre in Halifax. Was hilarious, although on a couple of occasions he skirted a bit too close to the "I'm not racist but" line. He was wearing amazing purple loafers, though. And he made fantastic attempts at inserting local colour into his set along the lines of Mark Steel's In Town. If I had paid for the tickets I would have considered them good value for money. 8/10

Gambit was silly, but a lot of fun, with the usual caveats about Hollywood movies' stupid approaches to gender politics. It has lots of naked Alan Rickman in it, which, IMHO, is recommendation enough. 7/10

Sightseers is the most original film I have seen in a long long time. If you imagine a feminist take on Natural Born Killers written with the dry and wistful humour of Alan Bennett you're somewhere close to beginning to grasp the feel of this heartwarming romcom about serial killers. I don't want to go too deeply into any of it, because I want you all to go see it. There's a bit of gore, and there's some strong language and really, really inappropriate concepts... but the way they are handled I guarantee you will laugh at all of them. Line of the film was he's not a person, he's a Daily Mail reader, but literally every scene has at least one laugh out loud moment. It was an utter joy hearing peals of laughter in the cinema, and it was lovely hearing the other patrons enthusing about the film as they left. It's not a film that needs to be seen on a big screen by way of effects or big visual stuff, but it's a film that makes for a great shared experience. Go and see it. Please.
Also if, like me, you fall in love with the leading lady you might wish to see her other works, which include Horrible Histories and Garth Marenghi's DarkPlace. 10/10

Strictly Come Dancing has been a lot of fun this year, principally because of the adorable, modest, brilliant and talented Lisa Riley, who has absolutely bloomed and become an amazing dancer. She also SO clearly is having the time of her life and getting on like a house on fire with Robbie. I'm not going to give Strictly a mark though because it's the kind of thing you know whether you like it or not.

Elementary I love love love. I love Johnny Lee Miller's characterisation of Holmes (and have just about expunged his Frankenstein's Monster from my brain), and I love Lucy Liu's sharp yet caring Watson, who has EXACTLY the right balance of intelligence and compassion to be Watson as Watson should be - not the dullard Watson is so often portrayed as, and I REALLY love the way they interact with each other. This is not a brilliant Holmes leading a stupid Watson to enlightenment, it is two people learning different things from each other, exactly as it should be.
Part of the reason it's so good is because the Moffatt series has dibs on the original stories for TV adaptation the makers of Elementary have been forced to be creative, and they have come up with something genuinely great. Better than Sherlock? Hell yes. Sorry Gatiss. 9/10

American Horror Story: Asylum I am having very mixed feelings about. It took me a LONG time to get into series 1 - and I thought about giving up on it more than once - but once I did I really loved it. Jessica Lange is still awesome, and every episode passes Bechdel without a problem, partly due to the huge cast, but partly because there is actual proper gender balance... but there are some bits of it which seem to be going for titilation over plot (oh, I know, in a horror series, what a shock). I'm also not sure about having it setting just two time periods, and the vast majority of it in 1964, rather than jumping about through history, and slowly tying things together. However, I am willing to keep giving it a chance longer than I normally would because the first series did just go on getting better and better. 6/10

Grimm series 2 is still gender unbalanced and still has needlessly silly terminology, but other that is a lot of fun. I am DEEPLY in love with Monroe. The conceit is interesting, and it falls neatly into the slot for fantasy in my head. And a lot of the recurring characters are great too. I particularly love Nick's mum and Monroe's mad-as-a-bag-of-frogs biker ex-girlfriend Angelina. 8/10

Continuum on the other hand, I am starting to wonder if it was made to fit exactly into a slot in my head. It's like someone thought Hey! Jennie loves sci-fi and she loves detective shows and she loves kickass female lead characters: I wonder what'd happen if we put all those things together? The result is a show that's by no means perfect, but still really, really good. I particularly like that the police department's geek is a girl, and am enjoying very much the mystery-of-the-week format. It's still overly male, but it's a step in the right direction, and passes Bechdel most weeks. 8/10

The Almighty Johnsons series 2 is being rather enjoyable too. Ingrid, Ty and Olaf are still my favourites. It's fun to see my predictions coming true, but also being twisted in unexpected ways. The episode A Damn Fine Woman is one of the finest episodes of television I have seen in a long time, and the rest of the series has been a lot of fun too. 8/10

About This Blog

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Hello! I'm Jennie (known to many as SB, due to my handle, or The Yorksher Gob because of my old blog's name). This blog is my public face; click here for a list of all the other places you can find me on t'interwebs.






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