Monday, March 15, 2004

While we expect democracy they're laughing in our face. And although our cries get louder. Their laughter gets louder still. Above the sound of ideologies clashing.

I can honestly say the single biggest change to occur in my lifetime is the Internet.

It has improved my quality of life and has influenced the way I live my life in so many ways.

The single biggest strength of the Internet is that it can't be censored. Every shade of human life is out there - from family blogs to the British National Party. In between these you can find out anything you ever wanted to know or anything you ever wanted to buy.

In many ways, it's a democracy writ large. Everyone has a voice, everyone can say what they believe in. Strike that, it's better than a democracy - we can say what we like without apologies and without the need to fit in with the ideologies of certain newspapers or TV stations.

I've been enjoying reading Paul the postman's blog. In his latest post he talks of violence faced by Socialist Workers Party members at the hands of the BNP. It is understandable that he believes that the likes of the BNP should have no links to democracy.

I agree whole heartedly. But I would prefer it if it was the people themselves that kept them from political power rather than the law makers. Ban an organisation and it can only gain strength from the notoriety. But exposing a political organisation such as this to the democratic process and the debate that goes with it and it would surely flounder.

At present the BNP flourish on hatred. Hatred that they themselves manufacture. Their electioneering is carried out on the doorstep. Here they take advantage of the disenfranchised and the down trodden. Other than the resident themselves there is only one voice on that doorstep, there is no one there to dispute their lies and to pick holes in their arguments.

This is why the BNP avoid debate. They know that they have little to offer but hatred. They know that their average candidate would be left a blubbering mess following any kind of a debate where they couldn't use their fists.

My belief is that there should be a real will, by all political parties, to expose the BNP for exactly what they are. But to exclude them from the democratic process is counter productive. That is not to say their more shady practices should also be tolerated. The full force of the law must be used against them in cases of incitement and violence.

This is only half of what I wanted to say on the subject of free speech and democracy.

A site that linked to my first posting on Madrid and disagreed with my analysis of it, later removed the link because he said he had received a threatening email. I won't link the site just in case it causes any further problems. I find this very sad. The biggest single reason behind writing the last two posts was to promote debate. I am horrified to think that someone had threatened somebody because they disagreed with me.

If you are anti war then it surely follows that you are anti violence full stop. That includes any kind of physical threat just as it includes everything from pub fights through to child discipline. It is the belief that there is no progress to be made from arguments being settled solely on physical strength and numbers.

I would ask anyone who comments here to do so with respect to everyone's point of view.

I am still new to blogging. I can't fathom the middle-American, bible-belt family blogs with their "I support the president" buttons but that is their right.

In order for any country to have a true democracy it also has to have a free media. At times this country makes a mockery of this. Blair was elected, where Kinnock failed, largely because he had done his deal with Murdoch. Murdoch backed him and the rest was history.

To put this in some kind of perspective: Murdoch owns 166 newspapers worldwide. Every last one of them was in support of the war. But who was supporting who? Was Murdoch backing Blair? Was Blair backing Murdoch, or were both backing Bush? Even more frightening - were both Bush and Blair backing Murdoch?

Then take another step. What does Murdoch get out of backing Blair? Exactly how much does Murdoch support cost? There is little doubt that Murdoch has been watching the recent BBC battering with much interest.

While I haven't always agreed with the BBC in the past, every democratic country needs a broadcaster of this type. An authoratitive broadcaster that has the independence and strength to stand up to its government. In a dictatorship the military acts as the opposition party, in a democracy the media should assume that position - alongside HM's opposition.

But there are other pressures on the media and that includes the BBC. There is the pressure of patriotism or lack of it. Anyone against the war, once it had started, was accused of not backing our troops. Of course it's a totally nonsensical argument - surely wanting them home, safe and alive is the best possible way of backing them.

However, once the war machine sprung to life, dissenting voice were marginalised by all media and that includes the BBC. I have seen some fascinating documentaries on television particularly by John Pilger. They have the kind of content that if you put them on the front page of the Sun they would go along way to toppling a government. But put them on ITV late at night and they pass by almost unnoticed.

It's important to realise just the media works to an agenda too. Remember the then England football manager Glen Hoddle being booted out at the media's behest because of an ill-advised remark about reincarnation? He had actually made the same remark many months earlier but his removal wasn't part of the agenda at the time.

The same applies to Prime Ministers. Blair has Murdoch's backing simply because he is more likely to stick to his agenda and appear more credible while doing it than the opposition party at the last general election. In the meantime watch how Blair and New Labour have carefully crafted their policies - on areas such as immigration and the euro - to fit in with the politics of The Sun. And while America gets into a flap about Janet Jackson's left breast, Dubya still thought it was fitting of a president to give his only interview, during his visit, to The Sun. A newspaper that still, despite now having a female editor, includes topless women on page three.

I guess my point is this. The beauty of the Internet is we all get a voice. This is a true democracy. We should respect that and respect the viewpoints of all who post.

In the meantime for the UK and USA to mirror that true democracy there must be independent media. How else are we supposed to inform ourselves so that when elections come around we can be sure we are voting as a result of our own beliefs rather than those of the media barons.

Remember this, the media and democracy are one at the same. In this respect, with governments taking millions of pounds from big business they are far less independent than the the likes of the BBC.

To take this to its logical conclusion: It is not the political parties themselves that offer real democracy -it's independent media, it's the Internet and it's the view points of you and I that do that.

Love, light and peace,


I saw two shooting stars last night I wished on them but they were only satellites. It's wrong to wish on space hardware. I wish, I wish, I wish you'd care.