The Great Debate UK

from Global News Journal:

Germany’s ‘Pirate Party’ hopes for election surprise

Founded by computer geeks in Sweden in 2006 and now active in 33 countries, the Pirate Party is hoping to win over young, disaffected voters in Germany's federal election on Sept. 27 with demands to reform copyright and patent laws along with their policies that oppose internet censorship and surveillance. But do the single-issue activists, with no stance on foreign policy or the economy, even have the faintest hope of overcoming the five percent hurdle needed to enter parliament?

This looks unlikely given the 0.9 percent of the vote they won at the European parliamentary elections in June.  Nonethless, the Piratenpartei with more than 8,000 members is the fastest growing party in Germany, a development partly sparked by the German parliament's ratification of controversial legislation on blocking certain websites in a bid to fight child pornography.

Gero Neugebauer, political scientist at Berlin's Free University, said the traditional parties' failure to properly understand the internet may have put wind in the Pirates' sails. "The large parties have treated the issue as if the only people using the internet are old men with lewd ideas who want to look at pornographic images or practice paedophilia," Neugebauer said in a recent TV interview.  "If the Pirate Party manages to make clear in society the conflict which they presently represent ... then they definitely have the potential to get above the five percent hurdle," he added.

Among the ranks of the Pirate Party is a former Social Democrat member of parliament -- Joerg Tauss. He resigned under pressure in September amid an investigation into possession of child pornography by state prosectors. He denies any wrongdoing.  "The internet has been increasingly tightened in recent years and made into a civil rights-free zone," Tauss said in parliament when the legislation was passed. 

Why Britain must deliver enduring constitutional reform


lester- Lord Lester of Herne Hill QC is a leading constitutional and human rights lawyer. The views expressed are his own -

Almost alone on the democratic world, we British have no written constitution protecting our basic civil and political rights. We have no constitutional charter defining the scope of the powers of the legislative, executive and judicial branches of government or the relationship of these branches with the European Union (EU). Parliament struggles to assert its power while the government uses its ancient monarchical authority — that is the prerogative power vested in the Queen — to exercise its executive powers.

Whistleblowers need protection


BRITAIN- Gavin MacFadyen is Director of the Centre for Investigative Journalism, a non-profit training charity, who advance education for, and public understanding of investigative journalism. The opinions expressed are his own. -

Whether the press, or even the police (if Speaker of the House of Commons Michael Martin has his way) succeed in unmasking the person who leaked MPs’ expense details to the Daily Telegraph, one thing which remains troubling in this story is the alleged exchange of money for those 1.2 million-or-so damning documents.

from UK News:

Bankers offer act of contrition

In the Middle Ages the four ousted British bankers who brought the Royal Bank of Scotland and HBOS to the brink of collapse would have probably had to endure the public humiliation of sitting in the stocks. 

On Tuesday the likes of former RBS chairman Tom McKillop and  former RBS chief executive Fred Goodwin had to undergo a more civilised form of public humiliation - a grilling by Parliament's Treasury committee.