Entries from December 2009 ↓
December 19th, 2009 —
I’ve been tabling a number of written questions to the DCMS in recent weeks. One of them unearthed this letter from BPI lobbyist, Geoff Taylor to the amiable and talented Secretary of State, Ben Bradshaw.
Mr Taylor’s letter seems confused. On the one hand, he trumpets the tremendous success and creativity of the music industry. On the other, he suggests that piracy is destroying the business.
I’ve been struck at the sheer magnitude of the recorded music industry lobby around the Digital Economy Bill. I’m going to prod around a little more when Parliament returns in the New Year.
December 15th, 2009 —
It was a very great honour to meet Yessika Hoyos Morales of the Corporacion Colectivo de Abogados for lunch today. Yessika is a deeply inspiring character and has given me the energy to pressure the government into taking a tougher line with Colombia, particularly within EU negotiations on a possible free trade agreement with the country.
I shall be asking questions of the Foreign Office about the extra-judicial killings of dozens of trades unionists in Colombia, many of which are linked to the Colombian army.
The UN High Commissioner for Human rights, Dr Navi Pillay, said last year that the Colombian army stands accused of a “crime against humanity” due to the “systematic and widespread” nature of the murders.
Other countries have expressed deep concern about the free trade deal. Many think that the deal will legitimise the regime in Colombia. Norwegian Finance Minister, Kristin Halvorsen has said “We are not satisfied with the way human right and fundamental labour rights are dealt with in this [free trade] agreement”.
Hilary Clinton recently told Congressional leaders that “continued violence and impunity in Colombia directed at labour and other civic leaders makes labor protection impossible to guarantee in Colombia today. Colombia must improve its efforts . The proposed US-Colombia agreement is therefore not currently on the legislative agenda in Washington”
I would like to see a similar unequivocal statement from the Foreign Office.
December 15th, 2009 —
1) The Secretary of State shall be under a duty to ensure that a referendum on reforming the electoral system for the House of Commons is held before 28 October 2010.
2) The referendum must offer a choice between the existing method of voting and a preferential system.
3) If the result of the referendum is in favour of changing the electoral system for the House of Commons, the Secretary of State shall be under a duty to lay implementing measures before Parliament within three months of the date of the referendum.
4) In this section:
“Implementing measures” means measures designed to and likely to implement the result of the referendum before the general election next following the referendum, and includes bills and statutory instruments.
“Preferential voting system” means a system of voting in which electors may express their support for individual candidates in order of preference and in which they are not restricted to expressing a fixed number of preferences.
December 13th, 2009 —
Here’s the second part of the interview:
MA: I thought the island was absolutely beautiful and I certainly look forward to the day when I’m able to land and stay and meet many of the islanders.
P: Yes. I think the statement that you have done, because what I haven’t told you before was that there were a lot of the British media listening to what we’re doing because we’re also on the internet but your statement when it comes to St Helena airport is very much appreciated. Were there any particular features that stood out, what you could see from up there sir?
MA: Well when we came in we first of all wanted to have a look at the cliffs on the south coast so we flew around the cliffs and then we came up over the East side. I wanted to have a look at the terrain where the proposed airport is meant to be, so we had a look at that and then round to the capital. From the air it looked wonderfully well laid out. I was just thinking as I am flying over am I an official tourist or when you do your Tourist numbers is it “plus Lord Ashcroft”? Does it count, am I an official tourist for 2009 sir?
MA: Erm, but no it was wonderful and to see the mailship there as well was an added bonus because quite clearly I’ve read an enormous amount about the boat that comes to supply you and it was good to see it there but I only wish I could have landed and had a couple of beers before I went on but maybe one day I will be able to. I hope you managed to get a good view of us flying over?
P: Err, not myself personally for understandable reasons because I’ve been in a radio studio but we have photographs of you flying over, that’s most certain sir.
MA: Alright, well have a good day to everyone there and my best wishes and I would like the island to know that in the House of Lords there is a friend of St Helena that will be there and, looking out and speaking on behalf of the Island.
P: Thank you very much to visiting us in your very own way sir and I’m sure you will be a great and staunch supporter of St Helena and it’s development in the future.
MA: Alright, good wishes to everyone.
December 13th, 2009 —
MA: It’s wonderful to be returning. In fact I set foot in St Helena in 1948 as a two year old boy with my parents coming from England to Cape Town in 1948 and they tell me that I fell into Napoleon’s fishpond when I came ashore at the time so in fact I have actually set foot in St Helena.
P: Yes and we said before, before we started the broadcast that you are about 15, 20 minutes away from Saint Helena at the moment?
MA: I’m about 25,000 feet in the air descending, slowly descending at the moment so I should be over there in about 15 minutes time.
MA: And I hope that my little one man protest that I cannot land at St Helena, I believe that you should have an airport, you should be able to open St Helena up to the world and I hope that an incoming Conservative government in due course will strongly support an airport there.
P: That’s lovely to hear. But as we said before I hope to have, to make your time sir, to give us another call when you have seen a little bit of St Helena when you’re flying over the island, I am sure that everybody in St Helena would very much appreciate. We know that the radios are on everywhere at the moment listening to you Lord Ashcroft.
MA: Well that’s absolutely wonderful and I’ll give you a call after I depart, about five or ten minutes after I depart and sign off as I’m on my way then to Brazil.
P: That’s really nice to hear because then we can talk more about St Helena because when you were in St Helena that was a long time ago and of course you can see now and I think you will be flying so low so you can actually see the people out looking for your airplane Lord Ashcroft?
P: Yes we have put that over as well but you are welcome to the noise because I think your statement is really good for the island and an important message to the British government and as you say after the election it might be slightly different.
MA: I am looking forward to it and I hope the governor is there, Andrew Gurr, who I’ve met in London, I think he’s a great governor for the Island and I will give you a call when we start to leave. Take care.
P: Thank you very much Lord Ashcroft and you will be back on the air in about half an hour’s time.