Showing posts from January, 2009

Couldn't give an LCO

Posted on IWA blog on 23 January An "open, responsive, effective" system, that’s how the Assembly’s petitions system was sold by the Presiding Officer at its inception . Welsh Civil Society was urged to come forward with new ideas on how AMs could use their new powers. The call went out for embryonic LCOs and Assembly to come flooding into the Senedd. When an MP succeeds in the ballot for Private Members Bills, we were told, backbenchers are showered pleas from campaigners to take forward ready-made Bills. Now was the time for Welsh organisations to step up to the plate. In October 2007 the green transport charity Sustrans did just that. We assembled an impressive coalition of civil society organisations, not just environmental groups but seemingly unlikely allies in the battle for sustainable transport like BT, Royal Mail and the BMA. On the steps of the Senedd Dafydd Elis Thomas accepted the petition from a postman and we were on our way to discovering a new delivery

Who pays the price for censorship?

Posted on Bevan blog on 23 January The Times reports this morning that the BBC have blocked a televised appeal for aid to Gaza "to avoid any risk of compromising public confidence in the BBC’s impartiality in the context of an ongoing news story". Rupert Murdoch's BSkyB took the same stance. The Times reports that this breaks a 45 year-old agreement with overseas aid charities to broadcast their fundraising appeals and arises from nervousness at the BBC that the appeal could result in the corporation having to compromise its coverage of the Gaza story. In a statement the corporation admitted it did not want to risk compromising confidence in BBC impartiality. "The BBC has decided not to broadcast the DEC’s public appeal to raise funds for Gaza. The BBC decision was made because of question marks about the delivery of aid in a volatile situation and also to avoid any risk of compromising public confidence in the BBC’s impartiality in the context of an ongoing news st

Poor arguments

Posted on the Bevan Foundation blog on 14th January 2009 George Monbiot has written a typically sparky piece on class and the environment. I'm not an avid reader of his but I think this post is worth quoting liberally from. He compares the campaign against patio heaters with the silence on the ownership of Aga's. Patio heaters are a powerful symbol: heating the atmosphere is not a side-effect, it's their purpose. But to match the fuel consumption of an Aga, a large domestic patio heater would have to run continuously at maximum output for three months a year. So where is the campaign against Agas? There isn't one. I've lost count of the number of aspirational middle-class greens I know who own one of these monsters and believe that they are somehow compatible (perhaps because they look good in a country kitchen) with a green lifestyle * It's a fair point. But more importantly the issue of class is a live one in the debate over airport expansion. It seems likel

What is the role of the State?

Posted on the Bevan Foundation blog on 10th January 2009 We tackle the big uns on this blog. Polly Toynbee piles into the debate in this morning's Guardian with an attack on the idea that charities should play a greater role in delivering public services. Charity is mostly a social good in itself, she says, but it is no substitute for the State: The voluntary sector has only become more important by taking welfare state contracts to do things a democratically elected government chooses. The money is accountable - whereas random funds from philanthropists take a taxpayers' subsidy unaccountably. Her piece is an attack on the increasingly fashionable view, especially in Conservative circles, that voluntary efforts are a more effective way to tackle complex social problems. As you'd expect from Polly Toynbee she's particular sensitive to any attempts to denude the capacity of the State to be marshaled for progressive causes. And she's right to sound the alarm, there i

Don't switch off

Posted on Bevan Foundation blog on 5th January 2009 Later this year the first of the Welsh television transmitters will be switched off. By March next year all seven analogue transmitters will be off line and without the ability to receive a digital signal you won't be able to watch telly. The arrival of digital TV was heralded as the dawning of a new era of choice. But if it's programmes made in Wales about our communities your after, there's not much choice. More than two-thirds of the people living in Wales don't consume Welsh daily news. And it's getting worse. The obligation for ITV to provide Public Service Broadcasting is being gradually being wound down. Their Political Unit in Cardiff Bay has been shut down, with only one reporter dedicated to Welsh politics remaining. Further cuts in ITV's current affairs unit are expected this year. If the prospects of winning a referendum on further powers look bleak now, wait a few more years and there'll be eve