May, 2003

Government Screws Us Again

The ID Card fiasco continues with the Government claiming that all the responses sent via Stand were considered to be one response.
See here and here.
Here is my own response to my MP.
Dear Ms Joan Ryan,
I’m enormously disappointed to learn that feedback that I gave in my own capacity to the Home Office in regard to ID Cards (or in the government’s parlance “Entitlement Cards”) has been lumped in together with several thousand other respondents who were similarly opposed to the scheme, simply because we all used the Stand website (www.stand.org.uk).
On April 28, Beverly Hughes, responding to a parliamentary question from Paul Marsden MP about ID cards spoke of 2,000 responses from organisations and individuals. Since the Stand website reported that it was used to submit 5,029 responses, something doesn’t add up. Evidently, the 5,029 responses count as one “organisation’s” response and not 5,029 individual responses.
This is appalling. The fact that I responded through a medium such as the very website I’m using at the moment, instead of traditional postal methods does not mean that my response should be effectively discarded.
We constantly hear that the government is trying to galvanise the population into taking a greater interest in politics and elections, and to appreciate that politicians should not be held in the low esteem they currently are. So summarily dismissing the responses of so many, because it doesn’t coincide with government policy would hardly be positive step.
I hope you will take this matter up with your colleague in the Home Office.
Yours sincerely,
Adam Bowie

Tony Benn

So Geoff and I went to see Tony Benn speak this evening at an event supporting the publication of a http://www.amazon.co.uk/exec/obidos/ASIN/082646596X of his.
The talk – well more a discussion – was at the Conway Hall in Holborn, a real old-school political debating centre.
The turn out was reasonable and a very sprightly Benn spoke for about half an hour about a number of issues including both Europe and war in Iraq. Then he opened it up to a wider discussion. This part could have gone better, but he’s undoubtedly a fascinating man, and you couldn’t really argue with anything that he said.

Iraq: the Aftermath

So not only do we now have Rumsfeld saying that there may not have been any weapons of mass destruction at the start of the war but, unsurprisingly, it turns out that the Iraq document that Blair presented to the Commons, was ever so slightly spun, and the security services are still rather upset that their information has been ever so slightly stretched.
In other words, all the reasons for having this war are tumbling down. OK – we removed a hideous dictator, but there are plenty more of them around.
Would someone please remind me why we went into this war in the first place?

The Vice

Finally, ITV show the next (final?) series of The Vice. I knew that it was in the can awaiting a showing, but ITV being ITV, they don’t like to air quality fare such as this. It’s nothing short of spectacular that Carlton made this in the first place.
Ken Stott’s character, Pat Chappel has been through a few scrapes before, but it looked like the end of the line after the last series. Well, now he’s hit the buffers totally – as has his former deputy Cheryl.
This series is outstandingly bleak, it doesn’t dumb down, and very few of the characters are especially likeable.
Wonderful.

The Year of the Sex Olympics

BBC Four showed this Nigel Kneale play last Thursday, and I got around to watching my tape this morning. It followed a documentary about British TV’s use of the hidden camera – another in the very good Timeslip series.
The play has incidentally just come out on DVD, and it’s especially prescient about where the Big Brothers of this world might naturally end up. It starred Leonard Rossiter and a very young Brian Cox, who’s malicious ways send television on an ever downward spiral.
Two things occurred to me as I watched it.
1. How did they get away with calling it “Olympics” and using the rings, and
2. The idea of continuous audience ratings, with programmes being adjusted accordingly is a fascinating if terrible development.

Shortest Night

Last night I went along to a BBC Four screening of a series of short films. The enterprise is called Shortest Night, and in about three weeks, BBC Four will seemingly be showing these and many others on, what is, the shortest night of the year. Somehow, I think Swedes will be otherwise occupied on that day.
The first film was a very strange, supposedly Russian “test” film of pelting a woman with potatoes.
But we soon got to what was a wonderful and totally unexpected surprise – Rendezvous. I’d never heard of this short film until earlier this year when I read an article about the film. It’s a very simple concept. A camera is strapped to front of a fast car (a Ferrari?), and in the early hours one morning, it’s driven around Paris at exceptional speeds. It’s breathtaking, because you know it’s real.
I’m looking forward to recording it for posterity in a few weeks time (fifteen quid for an 8 minute film is a bit much!).
There were other equally weird films, although the most memorable was a film with simply words on the screen voicing the real thoughts of several protaganists, who’s phone calls we hear.
And there was a funny Swedish film – Svitjod 2000+ – about extending Sweden’s population.
I look forward to rewatching the collection, and more.