digital economy bill

I was already booked to attend another conference this weekend, so was unable to attend the Liberal Democrat Special Conference in Birmingham this weekend. Just reading through all the coverage of it, especially on Twitter and over at Lib Dem Voice, no-one really mentions all the amendments that were passed into the main motion, some of which are very interesting. However I may feel about the coalition, given the wide range of subjects and movers, the Lib Dems are far more democratic than Labour or the Conservatives.

To what extent it is actually of any use to “affirm” commitments to scrapping tuition fees when the coalition agreement that was approved by the same motion explicitly states that Liberal Democrat MPs and peers shall abstain on the issue on tuition fees if the Browne Review recommends raising the cap (which it will almost certainly do) is debatable. Similarly, affirming a commitment to LGBT equality is all very well but what does that actually mean when the minister for equality, presumably approved by Nick Clegg, has voted against LGBT rights whenever she can? I guess coalitions take us into strange territory. I hope that our leadership, and government, as I suppose we must now call them, will not ignore the amendments to this motion.

All the amendment can all be found in the Conference Extra document that was put out today, but I include them below:

Amendment 1
Moved by: Evan Harris
Supported by 14 conference representatives

“Conference notes that negotiations with the Labour party were not fruitful, despite the best endeavours and good faith of the Liberal Democrat negotiating team, because many in the Labour Party did not wish to participate in a coalition with the Liberal Democrats or to continue in government; and that therefore it was not possible to form a stable administration with the Labour Party.

Conference further notes that a stable coalition with the Conservatives with a clear partnership agreement has significant advantages for the country, for the implementation of progressive policies and for the creation of a more cooperative style of politics compared to the remaining option of a minority Conservative administration.”

Amendment 2
Moved by: David Grace
Supported by 15 conference representatives

“Conference recognises that party members in government and in parliament will be bound by the usual conventions and by the terms of this agreement but declares that the Liberal Democrats remain an independent political party and that nothing in this agreement prevents the party from developing new policy through it’s democratic processes.”

Amendment 3
Moved by: James Graham
Supported by 23 conference representatives

“Conference calls for Liberal Democrats to work constructively in government to ensure that the net income and wealth inequality gap is reduced significantly over the course of this parliament.”

Amendment 4
Moved by: Liberal Youth

“Conference notes that many Liberal Democrat MPs signed the NUS ‘vote for students’ pledge against any real terms rise in the tuition fee cap. Conference calls upon Liberal Democrat ministers and MPs to ensure that on any decision made on Lord Browne’s report on higher education funding, they above all else take into account the impact on student debt. Conference affirms the Liberal Democrat objective of scrapping tuition fees.”

Amendment 5
Moved by: David Matthewman
Supported by 10 conference representatives

“Conference urges Liberal Democrat ministers and MPs to take all possible steps to ensure the repeal of those sections of the Digital Economy Act 2010 which are inconsistent with policy motion Freedom, Creativity and the Internet as passed at Spring Conference 2010.”

Amendment 6
Moved by: Jo Shaw
Supported by 10 conference representatives

“Conference also calls on Liberal Democrat ministers and MPs, in line with the Liberal Democrat manifesto commitment to protect the Human Rights Act 1998, to oppose moves by any party or individual towards repeal of this act.”

Amendment 7
Moved by: Dave Page
Supported by DELGA

“Conference reaffirms the party’s long-standing and unparalleled commitment to matters relating to lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans equality.”

Amendment 8
Moved by: David Wright
Supported by Harlow Local Party

“Conference calls on Liberal Democrat ministers and MPs to seek to include proportional representation for local government elections in England and Wales as apart of the political reform programme of the coalition government.”

Amendment 9
Moved by: David Rendel
Supported by Newbury Local Party

“Conference regrets that it proved impossible to agree the introduction of a system of proportional representation for elections to the House of Commons, and reaffirms the party’s long-standing commitment to the introduction of such a system.”

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Last month I wrote a letter (republished here) to all the Manchester Gorton Constituency candidates regarding civil liberties and more specifically the recently passed Digital Economy Bill. To date, only Justine Hall of the Green Party has replied, although the Press Officer of the Pirate Party has been in touch offering to have Tim Dobson call me personally (I have asked for a letter).

Here is Justine Hall’s letter:

“Dear Ms McCulloch

Thank you for your email. I am very supportive of the 5 points raised by the Power2010 pledge. I joined the campaign some time ago as an individual and have now signed the pledge as a candidate – currently the only candidate for Gorton who has!

All 5 of the points are Green Party policy and have been for some time. We believe that a written constitution is important for citizens and lawmakers to understand what our rights are, and it would make it more difficult for the government to take rights away from us.

ID cards must be stopped, and the registering of every child in the UK is ID cards by the back door. I cannot believe that MPs children may be ‘shielded’ from this database – the fact they vote for an abhorrent database and protect themselves is truly a mark of how out of touch they are.

I am appalled that the Digital Economy Bill was pushed through at the last minute. Even more appalling was the low number of MPs that actually bothered to turn up to vote. A small ray of sunshine is that the law sems unworkable and looks very unlikely to survive any legal challenge against it, particularly as even the MPs that drafted it got rather confused about what they were asking for, with one convinced that IP meant ‘intellectual property’, not ‘internet protocol’ as it actually does.

Some more information about the Green Party view is here:

MPs MUST be subject to the laws they pass, as every other citizen is. The Green Party will continue to press for any exceptions to be made public and repealed immediately.

A vote for the Green Party is a vote against politics as usual, a vote for transparent politics and against shady lobbyists and MPs self interest.

You can learn more on our website

Justine Hall
Green Party candidate, Manchester Gorton”

Thank you very much to Justine. :)

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Letter to Manchester Gorton candidates re civil liberties

April 12, 2010

Sent to Qassim Afzal, Caroline Healy, Gerald Kaufman, Karen Reisseman and Justine Hall. Dear candidate, my name is Sarah McCulloch and I am a constituent of Manchester Gorton, whom you wish to represent in Parliament. I thought I would write to you with my concerns regarding the past few decades of curtailment of civil liberties […]

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Hello Digital Economy Act, goodbye freedom…

April 8, 2010

With the passing of the Digital Economy Bill today, here is your final chance was watch a mash-up of the wash-up “debate”. No doubt my website will be banned and you will be disconnected shortly. This is perhaps a little scare-mongering, but there is a very real prospect that hundreds, if not thousands, of people […]

2 comments Read the full article →