For one of the few MPs with supposed libertarian leanings, the following tweet, even given the character limitations of twitter, hardly ranks amongst as Douglas Carswell’s finest utterings:
It doesn’t take much imagination to realise that this went down like a cup of cold sick with those who are in favour of free speech no matter how distasteful it can get and he came in for a bit of stick from them.
Carswell went on to ‘clarify’ his opening remarks in replies to some of the responses he received, saying that he’d like to be able to ‘exclude anonymous posters from one’s time line’ – an idea that perhaps (as a user-enabled setting) has legs assuming that anyone can come up with an acceptable definition of ‘anonymous’. Given that Guido and Old Holborn still use those identities even though pretty much everyone knows who Guido is these days and Old Holborn’s name was made public earlier this year, which side of the line do you place them? What about those like me who use a pseudonym as a handle but have their forename as their display name? Personally I’d place the odds of coming up with something that might suit Doug, let alone anyone else, at about the same as producing a useable internet porn filter.
The ‘explanation’ however leaves something to be desired as an optional block is a world away from wanting to sync twitter handles with the electoral roll in a cack-handed attempt to force civility on tweeters. Whilst I tend to be civil online (although my language is known to get somewhat fruity in meatspace), others are just as forthright in person as they are online so, anonymous or not, civility is not a certainty just because you know the real name of the person who has just suggested you perform some anatomically impossible act or has called you names that are slang for parts of the body.
Since Carswell is someone who has previous lauded the idea of the internet as a way of doing without big government, it is rather depressing to see him fall into the exact same trap. Is this simply the result of drinking the water in the Palace of Westminster or has his mask finally slipped?
The poll is closed and the results are in. By a clear margin (although falling just short of being the preference of 50% of respondants) the winner is #4:
Repeal of the European Communities Bill: Britain joined the European Economic Community in 1973. It has turned out to be an economic and political disaster. This Bill will get us out.
On his blog, Carswell outlines some of the problems the UK would have (assuming the bill was successful)*:
What sort of trade relationship would we then want with Europe and the wider world?
Given that Britain buys far more from the EU than the EU buys from us, we would be in a strong position to ensure open trade agreements. Because only those businesses looking to sell to the Single Market would need to comply with Single Market rules, a great deal of economic and commercial activity that had nothing to do with EU exports could automatically be exempted from accumulated EU red tape.
Even if Parliament and the people voted overwhelmingly to leave the EU, our activist judges – whose role has been aggrandised by the Euro system – would be certain to challenge it. Europhile mandarins in Whitehall would do all they could to thwart any attempt to escape a system they helped bring into being.
We need to think through how best to face down the Europhile Establishment.
Which is all well and good but as I said on Friday I don’t think he has a snowball’s chance in hell of succeeding given the generally pro-EU membership stance of Cameron, Clegg and Milliband.
I’d love to be proved wrong though.
The results of the Private Members’ Bill ballot for the current session of parliament were announced on 17th May.
The 20th name out of the (figurative) hat was that of Douglas Carswell, erstwhile tory rebel and libertarian. Rather than immediately introducing a bill about a pet hobby horse or, worse, allowing himself to be used as a tame pet by the whips and/or a lobbying organisation, Carswell has taken the novel approach of drawing up a shortlist and letting the public choose.
The options are:
- Bloggers Freedom Bill: the law on copyright and libel developed in an age when very few people ever published anything. Today, millions of people blog and tweet. The law needs to reflect this. While other people’s intellectual property needs to be safeguarded, and people need protection from libel, this law would provide bloggers and tweeters with some protection against being sued, with a 48 hour period of grace before legal action could be taken.
- Defence Procurement Bill: too much of the defence budget is spent in the interests of big defence contractors, and not in the interests of our armed forces. This Bill would make it a legal requirement to put most defence contracts out to public tender, and prevent those who have worked for the Ministry of Defence from working for defence contractors without clear safeguards.
- Great Repeal Bill: there are too many rules and regulations. The government’s Freedom Bill, which promised to do something about it, has turned out to be pretty useless. Instead, the Great Repeal Bill – the world’s first Wiki-Bill – would repeal a vast swathe of unnecessary red tape. The details of the Bill are here.
- Repeal of the European Communities Bill: Britain joined the European Economic Community in 1973. It has turned out to be an economic and political disaster. This Bill will get us out.
- Competing Currencies Bill: having struggled to save the Pound, this Bill will save the value of the Pound. It will prevent ministers debauching our currency to help pay their debts. While the idea of competing currencies is not new, the internet – which allows different currencies to be used seamlessly – is, making it practically possible. Translations of the Bill will be available in Greek, Spanish and perhaps even French.
The poll is taking place over at Guido’s so take another look at the list, pick your favourite and vote (if you so want).
For myself I like the sound of all of them but my priorities would lie towards numbers 3 and 4 – and of those two #4 seems, to me anyway, to be of greater importance.
I also note with interest that John Hemming was the 6th MP out. Given his dislike of super-injunctions and the secrecy of the Family Courts and the Court of Protection his bill could be one to watch.
Disclaimer: The rules of the game are such that the earlier a name was drawn the better the chance that his or her bill will at least get a cursory listen – and only then if the whips on either side of the house don’t sabotage it. The odds therefore are that whatever bill Douglas does present to the house will get shot down in flames or be deliberately talked out.