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Tony Benn (1925-2014)

Acknowledged to be one of the few British politicians who became more left-wing after having actually served in government, former veteran left-wing campaigner Tony Benn has died at home aged 88. Tony was a British Labour Party politician and Member of Parliament (MP) for 50 years, and a Cabinet Minister under Harold Wilson and James Callaghan. His legacy can be seen in postage, in the powerful five questions, the speeches he gave, and his diaries.
posted by Wordshore on Mar 14, 2014 - 84 comments

 

TP-AJAX

In 2011, the CIA declassified documents admitting its involvement in the 1953 coup that overthrew Iran's elected government and installed Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi, details of which were first first disclosed by the New York Times in 2000. Timeline. However, they refused to release them to the public. Today, the National Security Archive research institute has (after a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit) obtained and made the 21 documents public. "Marking the sixtieth anniversary of the overthrow of Iranian Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddeq, the National Security Archive is today posting recently declassified CIA documents on the United States' role in the controversial operation. American and British involvement in Mosaddeq's ouster has long been public knowledge, but today's posting includes what is believed to be the CIA's first formal acknowledgement that the agency helped to plan and execute the coup. [more inside]
posted by zarq on Aug 19, 2013 - 33 comments

The fiscal choices at UK Spending Review 2013 and beyond

"The government’s plans for deficit reduction have increasingly stark implications for public spending as their deadline draws nearer, according to new Resolution Foundation analysis. While overall expenditure is set to remain relatively flat in 2015-16 (the period covered by the latest Spending Review) the pace of reduction in total government spending is due to increase significantly in the two subsequent year"
posted by marienbad on Jun 20, 2013 - 3 comments

The Lords Hath Spoken

18 arguments made against gay marriage in the House of Lords, England, during debate of the Governments proposed Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill
posted by marienbad on Jun 5, 2013 - 105 comments

social impact bonds

Are Social Impact Bonds a good way to invest in public services? "Imagine a contract where private investors are paid by the government if there's a decrease in homelessness or convicts re-offending. It's a an idea that's taking shape in the UK and some US states. And now the Canadian government is considering piloting social impact bonds. Critics say it's a way of governments shirking their responsibilities." CBC's "The Current" reports. [more inside]
posted by flex on Nov 20, 2012 - 29 comments

The News Corporation scandals

Murdoch's Scandal - Lowell Bergman (the journalist portrayed by Al Pacino in The Insider) has investigated News Corporation for PBS Frontline [transcript]. He depicts Rupert Murdoch's British operation as a criminal enterprise, routinely hacking the voicemail and computers of innocent people, and using bribery and coercion to infiltrate police and government over decades. Enemies are ruthlessly "monstered" by the tabloids. Bergman also spoke to NPR's Fresh Air [transcript]. But the hits keep coming: in recent days News Corp has been accused of hacking rival pay TV services and promoting pirated receiver cards in both the UK and Australia. With the looming possibility of prosecution under America's Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, how long will shareholders consider Rupert Murdoch irreplaceable? [Previous 1 2 3 4]
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 on Mar 28, 2012 - 58 comments

Jumping the pond

Dozens of concerned citizens will march on London this weekend to protest high taxation and government debt. Sound familiar? The rally is the first sign of what The Guardian terms "a radical Tea Party-style mass movement" in the UK. Organisers The Taxpayers' Alliance have previously been linked to the US-based Freedom Works.
posted by londonmark on May 13, 2011 - 49 comments

The Lockerbie Deal

How Britain's largest corporations helped engineer the release of Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi, the Lockerbie bomber.
posted by reenum on Apr 28, 2011 - 10 comments

Football Mascots, English Democrats And Shadow Mayors

The Local Government Act 2000 brought directly elected mayors to the UK. Take up was limited and success was mixed. If you were lucky you got Stuart Drummond. If you were unlucky you got Peter Davies. Davies, the mayor of Doncaster, is widely seen to have exacerbated existing problems in the town.

This week, the Localism Bill was introduced to Parliament promising referenda on directly elected mayors in the twelve largest cities in England. In advance of this, council leaders are being turned into 'shadow mayors'. The problem? The leaders don't actually want these new powers.
posted by ninebelow on Dec 16, 2010 - 9 comments

News of the ... Screwed?

Last week, the New York Times magazine published an explosive article about the phone-hacking exploits at the Rupert Murdoch-owned British tabloid News Of The World under the then-editorship of Andy Coulson, now the the Government's chief of communications. Following the NYT's investigation, questions about the "unhealthy" relationship between the Metropolitan Police and the press (particularly Murdoch's News International, which also includes The Sun, The Times and the Sunday Times), and further claims that an independent inquiry was abandoned so as not to upset the Metropolitan Police, assistant Met Commissioner John Yates was questioned [video; 4 mins] on Tuesday by the Home Affairs select committee. Following an emergency debate in Parliament today, which concerned the fact that MPs of all parties may have had their phones hacked (and therefore had their Parliamentary Privilege breached), the Standards and Privileges Committee, the most powerful committee in Parliament, is to open an inquiry which will be able to compel witnesses to give evidence. Meanwhile, former News of the World reporters are coming out the woodwork, claiming that hacking at the paper was "rife", and the pressure is on Coulson to resign his £140,000 job at No. 10, with a poll [pdf] which says 52% of the public says he should go. [more inside]
posted by Len on Sep 9, 2010 - 46 comments

Freedumb Pies

Last week, the UK government announced an end to 'vanity websites in Government', calling for 600 government websites to be closed down, and 50% budget cuts for those which remain. Six days later, the government launches PR exercise website http://yourfreedom.hmg.gov.uk

Also recently launched was Your Freedumb to enable citizens easily see some of the more 'interesting' suggestions on Your Freedom. For example, repeal the Second Law of Thermodynamics, abolish Facebook and Twitter sites and repeal Sod's Law.
posted by i_cola on Jul 2, 2010 - 28 comments

Set Your Spreadsheets to Stunned

The UK Government has published extracts from COINS, the Combined Online Information System used by the Treasury to track all public spending by the Government. Together, the files constitute about 11Gb of data in delimited text format containing consolidated financial information for each department and account type. [more inside]
posted by Electric Dragon on Jun 4, 2010 - 3 comments

The next age of government

While much is being made of dysfunctional government [1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9] and hung parliament [1,2,3,4,5], David Cameron's pitches for a fairer society [1,2,3], smarter policy [1,2,3] and employee ownership [1,2,3,4,5,6,7] have been positively, uh, Obamanian.* [more inside]
posted by kliuless on Mar 5, 2010 - 26 comments

World Government Data

Governments around the globe are opening up their data vaults allowing us to check out the numbers for ourselves. This is the Guardian’s gateway to that information. Search for government data here from the UK, USA, Australia and New Zealand — and look out for new countries and places as they are added. Read more about this on the Datablog. [more inside]
posted by netbros on Jan 25, 2010 - 13 comments

This will not Orwell.

The Daily Express reports on a UK Government Announcement to expand the use of Family Intervention Projects. However, the Daily Express exaggerates the report somewhat, the article stating (apparently wildly incorrectly) that the UK Government "plans to put 20,000 problem families under 24-hour CCTV supervision in their own homes". Other reports in the UK press make no mention of CCTV. Nonetheless, the alarmist Express article is widely picked up and discussed on the internet, pushing many people past 10 on the Orwellometer. Then Mefite FfejL uses Twitter to ask Ed Balls, the minister responsible, if the CCTV aspect of the Express article is accurate. [more inside]
posted by memebake on Aug 4, 2009 - 34 comments

Airstrip One

London police are now deleting tourists' photos because "photographing anything to do with transport is strictly forbidden."
posted by plexi on Apr 16, 2009 - 85 comments

The House will now consider the Flags for Orphans bill

UK MPs trying to block publishing their expenses - they're voting on Thursday to overturn last year's High Court ruling. TheyWorkForYou is emailing members to let them know that the UK government buried the news of this vote amongst last week's Heathrow runway anouncement. They are trying to reverse the 16 May 2008 High Court decision that MPs' expenses must, under the Freedom Of Information Act, be made public. What can you do about this mixture of Jo Moore and Krusty? [more inside]
posted by TheDonF on Jan 19, 2009 - 58 comments

What does the future hold?

The Cabinet Office in the UK has published "Future Strategic Challenges for Britain" [full pdf, summary pdf, website], a 180-page document which summarises current futures thinking in the UK Government, with a horizon of about 20 years. It includes predictions on big issues such as democratic participation, foreign affairs, climate change, family life and public services.
posted by athenian on Feb 8, 2008 - 6 comments

Virtual tour of 10 Downing Street

Sadly, you will never be important enough to be invited to 10 Downing Street. So take a virtual tour instead.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane on Jan 3, 2007 - 23 comments

The Porter-Blair debate.

Henry Porter is the British Editor of Vanity Fair. In the current issue he attacks what he describes as "[Tony] Blair's campaign against rights contained in the Rule of Law". The article follows a series of columns for The Observer and an extraordinary exchange of email between the two men, and has resonance in probably all countries in the Western world.
posted by Neiltupper on Jun 28, 2006 - 37 comments

A House full of insults: an informal look at the history of parliamentary put-downs

A House full of insults is an informal look at the history of parliamentary put-downs and their inconsistent consequences in Britain's House of Commons.
posted by nthdegx on Dec 11, 2005 - 22 comments

Rock the vote

In 21 days the UK will be holding a general election, and people around the country will be voting for the next government. Can't choose between the different parties? Who should you vote for?
posted by Mwongozi on Apr 14, 2005 - 56 comments

The price of greatness is responsibility.

"There is no excuse for superior authority not choosing the most suitable agents for particular duties, and not removing unsuitable agents from particular duties." With all the talk of empires and resignations, a reflection to history turns up a remarkable story about an already remarkable man:

A tense time in British India came to a head when General Reginald Dyer's brigade opened fire on an unarmed crowd assembled in Amritsar with machine guns, killing 379 and wounding over 1500. Command wanted to relieve him of duty, but patriotic (and imperialist) fervor at home led to a parliamentary debate which was expected to repudiate this decision and honor him. Enter War Secretary Winston Churchill who defended the Government so eloquently that the minds and hearts of the entire deliberative body were turned.
posted by allan on Dec 17, 2004 - 16 comments

Opening up government, because they're too slow to do it themselves

Hacking open democracy. First came FaxYourMP, so technophobe MPs could be easily contacted by the 'net generation. Next were PublicWhip, DowningStreetSays and TheyWorkForYou (previously discussed here and here) to help voters keep tabs on what their elected representatives get up to in office. Coming soon are FaxYourRepresentative/WriteToThem, NotApathetic and YourConstituencyMailingList. (MI).
posted by grahamspankee on Dec 10, 2004 - 6 comments

Order! Order!! Order!!!

They Work For You was launched at yesterday's NotCon '04 by the people who brought you Fax Your MP. It makes Hansard accessible, via search facilities (by MP or by topic), with each individual speech presented as a separate, linkable entry. Get an RSS feed of your own MP's speeches, hold them to account over their special interests, but most of all, don't forget to vote this week!
posted by cbrody on Jun 7, 2004 - 5 comments

Hutton Inquiry Out

The Hutton Inquiry has concluded its investigation. It unanimously vindicates the British Government, castigates the BBC for lying and criticising the Government's honour, and mildly criticises some aspects of the Intelligence services and Dr. David Kelly himself.
An accessible PDF to HTML version of the Hutton website - The Guardian's Hutton site - The BBC's Hutton site - Google News UK.
posted by Blue Stone on Jan 28, 2004 - 57 comments

The HRE was neither holy nor roman, talk amongst yourselves (about GMOs)

Today the British government released a major report on the safety of genetically modified foods. According to New Scientist, "existing genetically modified crops and foods pose a 'very low' risk to human health and are 'very unlikely' to rampage through the British countryside", but others disagree.
posted by turbodog on Jul 21, 2003 - 58 comments

Lobsters, caviar and brandy for MPs at summit on starvation.

Lobsters, caviar and brandy for MPs at summit on starvation. Is this really a scandal? Or typical tabloid pabulum? Yes, it is hypocritical, but is it worse than rich people who don't claim to give a damn about the poor eating caviar and swilling champagne? Matt thinks it's "sick".
posted by goethean on Aug 26, 2002 - 27 comments

The UK Parliament Site

The UK Parliament Site gets a new design, with live webcasting. They want it better to serve "grazers" as well as "hunters". For comparison, the US House and Senate, and the French Assembly and Senate.
posted by liam on Jul 30, 2002 - 14 comments

"Big government is good for you, and we'll spare no expense making sure you know it!" New figures show the largest advertiser in the UK is now the British government, with the government blowing about 2 1/2 times as much on ads per year as it did before before Labour's rise to power. This is far more than than any other country's government spends. Dissemination of truly important information, or taxpayer-funded plugs for Labour?
posted by aaron on Apr 17, 2001 - 16 comments

UK Govt. votes to ban hunting in England and Wales.

UK Govt. votes to ban hunting in England and Wales. Browsing the web last night, several national polls were showing that more of the British Public were against a ban than in favour. Will the MPs who turned up to vote but not to debate (not very democratic?) live to regret their decision as the debate turns from animal welfare to civil rights?
posted by nico on Jan 18, 2001 - 29 comments

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