Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Youth crime and internet videos

Labour MP Heidi Alexander’s campaign to have gang related videos removed from the internet might seem noble and just to some but for me it leaves two questions that I often ask myself concerning MPs.
1)      Do they hate and try to destroy everything in this world that does not fit into their pretty picture of how they would like the world to be?
2)      Are their actions motivated merely by the potential for votes and looking good in front of their constituents?
The motivation of the second seems to be even stronger than the unpleasant first.
Ms Alexander told MPs: "I am appalled by the proliferation of online videos which glorify gangs and serious youth violence. Police, by the courts and ISPs, need to be given explicit powers to get these videos taken down or access to them blocked.”
She is entitled to dislike the videos as much as she chooses. However her dislike of the videos is not in my eyes reason enough to change legislation to lead to the ban on the videos. I can only seee the justification for that type of interference if evidence is provided to show that the videos cause harm.
Ms Alexander claims "They lead to increased numbers of young people in our cities who feel they need to carry a knife for protection and they terrify any ordinary human being who watches them."
I would like to know where she got her evidence that these videos lead to children being more likely to carry a knife for protection. The idea that they terrify ordinary people who watch them is not something I can see as a possible justification because ordinary people are not forced at gunpoint to watch.   
"It seems to me that the popularity and accessibility of the internet means it is inevitably one of the ways through which young people get caught up in the madness of youth violence.”
In the above statement she makes it plain that it is in her opinion that the internet influences children to get involved in youth violence. I do not believe that in a democratic society, or any other society, one person’s opinion should be enough to change legislation.
"These videos frighten me and they frighten young people too.”
Neither she nor the young people are forced to watch. Visions of fighting in Syria, Egypt or on the local high street that are shown on the television might frighten some people.
"Every one of us here today knows that carrying a knife is wrong. Some of us will also know if a young person carries a knife it is probably as likely to end up injuring them as anyone else. We also know that many young people carry knives out of fear - they may not start out to stab someone but as we all know, too often that becomes the tragic reality.”
I find that statement hard to deny but I do not see that carrying knives is necessarily influenced by the videos she wishes to ban.
"For many, the everyday fear of gangs and what they can do is far greater than the fear of getting caught and going to prison. Don't we owe it to the young people who are viewing this stuff online to make them feel safer?"
I ask myself why young people would choose to watch videos that frighten them. No statistics are produced to support the idea that removing the videos will make young people feel safer. Not even a single case study.
This article was not designed to defend the videos that she wishes to ban. It is designed to highlight the two charcteristics that I see and dislike in politicians that I mentioned above. Her words and actions seem to be geared towards appeasing the adults who will vote for her. She also has a wish to see something banned that she is frightened of.

I have no concern for her fears. I am more concerned about the children that I consider her to be attacking and dressing it up to look like she is helping them.
The vast majority of the videos under attack happen to be music videos. The vast majority of people who watch the videos are children who are into that type of music. If they were of voting age and made the majority of her constituents I am not so sure that she would be so quick to join a fight that will be in effect a battle against the music that the majority of her voters love.

Politicians have a habit of apologising when their voters go against them. How many times have you heard a defeated politician say that “I am sorry. We got it wrong.”?
I am not saying that she necessarily has it wrong. I would just like to see some evidence.
Ms Alexander’s Internet Regulation (Material Inciting Gang Violence) Bill will gain a second reading in March 2012.

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Recession, what recession?

"We are all in this together" is the often repeated government mantra that I'm sure we're all sick of hearing. Well clearly this isn't the case, as we all full well know.

This certainly doesn't apply if you work in the boardroom of one of the FTSE 100 companies. Last Friday one of the headline news stories told us just how far from the truth this really is. According to Reuters, the news agency who commissioned the report: "FTSE 100 bosses' pay leaps, outpaces share gains."

Now these companies are not called blue-chip for nothing, it stands to reason that they are going to be high performing and that they are going to weather a recession perhaps better than most. But average pay increases of 49%? It certainly isn't a question of performance related pay - in the same period that the report was talking about, (April2010 t0 the end of March 2011) the FTSE 100 index rose by just 3%.

For public sector workers, almost all of them have had their pay frozen. For people in the private sector, who aren't on the board that is, average pay settlements are running at 2.6%.

These eye-watering increases in remuneration take the average pay for a director of a FTSE 100 company to just short of £2.7 million.

And the reaction of the Prime Minister? He said the report was "concerning,"