Wednesday, 17 December 2008

Blogorama IV: John's Labour Blog

[Just a note this might seem a little (or very) incoherent but that's because it's end of term time and I have quite a few things to do.]

After last week's jaunt into the world of Feminist blogging today we return to the true substance of Blogorama; Labour blogging.

The subject of this week's Blogorama is the personal blog of trade union activist and Labour Party member John Gray. (There are some here who will be interested to note that he has an interest in the History of Labour)

John works for UNISON, for those who aren't familiar with the organisation, in his words:

UNISON is the largest Housing union in the UK. We have members in Council housing departments, ALMOs, Registered social landlords (Housing associations) and the supported housing sector. But also our 1.4 million members are either homeowners or tenants themselves or in need of affordable housing.

He covers a variety of Labour related issues, quite a few of them to do with UNISON. He covered the same 10 point refutal of the criticism of public pensions that we covered. I like to see Labour bloggers working in harmony to get the message out.

He made a video explaining the sub-prime crisis which some might find interesting:

Like me, John appreciates the importance of Europe, in a recent post he raised some very relevant points for Labour regarding next years European elections. [Claude is Claude Moraes, a London MEP who was the second guest speaker at the London Region Labour Link meeting that John had attended.]

However the socialist and progressive majority in Europe is razor thin. If not enough Labour MEPs are elected then the assembly could fall into the hands of EU “Conservatives” and this will mean the end of such progressive policies. It is also critical for the unions to support Labour MEPs so they can oppose the dark side of the EU legislative regime, such as the “Services Directorate” which could result in the forced privatisation of local government and NHS care services.

Claude also warned that the likely collapse of the UKIP (due in part to their corruption scandals and the behaviour of their maverick MEPs) could result in the BNP getting 7% of the vote in London and gaining a MEP.

Currently he is involved in a serious, and especially from a blogging perspective disheartening, situation involving an article he posted on Labourhome. He is being sued for libel by a former Labour Party member (Now a Tory via Respect and the Communist Party). The situation is covered well by this postby David Osler who is involved in the same case. At the heart of the case is freedom of speech online and in particular who is responsible for repercussions of comments on a website or forum. Comments made on the post which is at the heart of the libel case have been cited:

Comments left on the original post form part of the action, something that in itself raises important issues for freedom of speech on the internet. One of the grounds on which this action is being brought is a remark in this blog's comments box that describes Ms Kaschke as 'one cherry short of a Schwarzwalderkirschtorte'. The merit of this designation is now entirely a matter for the court; however, such deliberations can scarcely be considered the optimal use of judicial time.

As most blogging aficionados will realise, such a lighthearted and jocular insult is nothing compared to the anarchic mêlée of a controversial thread in full flight. Everyone - regardless of political affiliation - who values the right to express an opinion online in vernacular English should support all of the bloggers involved in this blizzard of writs.

Whilst I don't believe that people should be allowed to defame others at will I am very uneasy with the use of litigation to stifle criticism. Especially since Labourhome deleted the offending article and offered the litigant space on the front page to air their side of the story. I think it's very important that the issue of freedom of speech on the internet is tackled otherwise many more bloggers could end up being dragged into court and face large legal bills even if they win.

I hope you enjoy reading this week's featured blog and look forward to reading next week's Blogorama; Blogorama V. Which will be on Christmas Eve.

1 comment:

  1. Now this is a blog i read regularly as John Gray provides a great insight into the events of the day. But just to point out he doesnt work for unison but is the elected treasurer of the London Region and as such has been elected by members accross london.

    I point this out because to be an officer in unison involves being approved by the memebrship and that is something to be proud off :)