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
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]
"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"
made against gay marriage in the House of Lords, England, during debate of the Governments proposed Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill
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]
- 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
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
. 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]
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
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
these new powers.
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]
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.
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]
While much is being made of dysfunctional government
] and hung parliament
], David Cameron's pitches for a fairer society
], smarter policy
] and employee ownership
] have been positively, uh, Obamanian
.* [more inside]
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]
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
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]
The Cabinet Office in the UK has published "Future Strategic Challenges for Britain" [full pdf
, summary pdf
], 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.
Sadly, you will never be important enough to be invited to 10 Downing Street
. So take a virtual tour
is the British Editor of Vanity Fair. In the
he attacks what he describes as "[Tony] Blair's campaign against rights contained in the Rule of Law". The article follows a series
for The Observer and an extraordinary exchange of email
between the two men, and has resonance in probably all countries in the Western world.
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.
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?
"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
, 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.
Hacking open democracy. First came FaxYourMP
, so technophobe MPs could be easily contacted by the 'net generation. Next were PublicWhip
(previously discussed here
) to help voters keep tabs on what their elected representatives get up to in office. Coming soon are FaxYourRepresentative/WriteToThem
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
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.
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
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".
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 the French Assembly
"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?
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?