1. v. The act of writing a weblog or 2. n. Toby’s weblog.

Moving Forward from Digital Economy Bill Passing Last Night

Many others have written and created more than I can right now so here’s a collection of the posts that say what I want to say but better:

I’m sure there will be more as the day goes on.

Finally, comments from me: suffice to say, I am very disappointed with the result and disgusted with Parliament. In particular I’d like to single out Ed Vaisey and his colleague Adam Afriyie for using the debate to score political points and not actually debate the bill. It was an example of the ‘change’ and ‘hope’ the Conservative Party offers. It was repellent. The bill was opposed from all sides of the house and then forced through by a three line whip and a compliant front bench from both the major parties. The stench that has dogged this last parliament just got more foul and does not bode well for the next. We need to seriously examine how our parliament works and how we can improve it. Whipping should be one of the first things we look at.

Huge thanks to all those such as Tom Watson who risked their future by breaking the whip and voted against the bill and actually represented their constituents rather than the interests of large lobbying organisations. It’s hard for MPs to break a three line whip in particular so they should be praised through the roof. Thanks should also go to all of the Liberal Democrats who voted against for whatever reason. The way the ‘game’ is played meant that it looked like they wouldn’t at some points so it was a big relief to see it happen. They have all given us a base that means that…

…the fight continues.

One final push against the Digital Economy Bill via Jim Fitzpatrick MP

It’s been quiet around here I know, but here for the record is the contents of the letter than I sent to my MP, Jim Fitzpatrick today:

Dear Jim,

I apologise up front if this email comes over as sounding frustrated but last night spoke for itself.

The Digital Economy Bill Debate last night was, frankly, embarrassing for Parliament. This is an issue of confidence in our democratic process for a lot of people. Some stats from

Out of 646 MPs only 40 turned up and only 10 stayed for the whole debate.

In contrast there were 5251 individuals discussing it on twitter, with 16180 tweets published. At peak it was one of the top 10 topics globally and has 20x more tweets/minute than any tweets to do with the UK election. People do care about this and to see the scorn that parliament is treating this issue is damning.

Some quotes from the debate last night to save you looking it up in Hansard:

Austin Mitchell said:

“What would a delay of another three months or so in order to discuss the Bill properly and give it full consideration do? There would be no danger in taking such an approach. A delay of three months would not produce the collapse of the creative industries, which has been held up as the threat hanging over us. This needs to be settled and discussed by the Commons through its full procedures; this should not be a rushed Bill, carried on the basis of the half attention of a discredited, dying and distracted Parliament.”

John Redwood said:

“It is a disgrace that the House is not treated with courtesy by the Government. It is quite wrong that a Bill of such importance and magnitude was not tabled earlier. It is quite wrong that there is an attempt to rush through all parts of the Bill without proper scrutiny and debate.”

John Grogan observed:

“I looked at all the Bills that received a Second Reading after a Prime Minister had gone to the palace-I went back as far as 1987… I managed to find the Diplomatic and Consular Premises Bill in 1987, the Architects Bill in 1997, the Lieutenancies Bill in 1997 and the International Organisations Bill in 2005. What they all shared in common was that there was no dispute between hon. Members in respect of them. It really is shameful that we are proceeding in this way.”

Tom Watson said:

“It is a very great pity that the Bill cannot be tested in Committee in the light of some of those questions. As a twice ex-Whip, I am rather embarrassed by the fact that the Bill is being railroaded through in the wash-up. Frankly, there has been a squalid deal between the three Front Benches, and they should be ashamed of themselves. The people who care about this Bill-and there are many out there-will see that for what it is.”

Please, take the time to vote against this horrendously badly draughted bill, or at least push to have it delayed for full scrutiny in the next Parliament. If you feel you can’t do that then please talk to the whips about it to explain that there is a significant groundswell of opinion about this and that it very much is a voting issue.

What happened to the Court of Public Opinion that Harriet Harman relied on so much over Fred Goodwin? Doesn’t it matter now? Does the lobbying and discredited statistics of the BPI matter more?

I have also signed the open letter here which you may find a worthwhile read:

I will be publishing this letter on my blog at

Many thanks once again for taking the time to read this, I do appreciate it.

Best wishes,


UPDATE 2010-04-07 11:20: Jim Fitzpatrick’s reply:

Like many MPs Toby, I was watching much of the debate in my office here at Westminster until the close. The debate resumes today and I will update you with the outcome. It will be interesting to see what changes are made today but there is a lot of consensus that much of the Bill is needed as I read in Hansard from some of the speeches I missed. I’ll let you know the outcome,

Best Wishes, Jim

UPDATE 2010-04-07 11:40: My reply to Jim Fitzpatrick:


Thank you for your reply as always.

Unfortunately the statistics that the pro consensus are based on are incorrect or based on a flawed basis:

The entertainment industry as a whole has seen record revenues. The period from January until October 2009 saw record singles sales within the UK, according to the British Phonographic Industry. So much so that the number of singles sold in that period was nearly three times the number sold for the whole of 2002. The statistics presented to Parliament are a simplistic measure of losses, based upon estimates of file-sharing supplied by the British Phonographic Industry (themselves extrapolated from a survey of a small group of people, and was widely debunked in June 2009). Indeed, the sectors of industry which the referenced report claims could suffer three hundred thousand job losses in the UK employs only marginally more than that to begin with. Is it really the case that legitimate sales will cease altogether, despite rising steadily for the past ten years?

I should also note that the consensus on the pro side consisted of the same number of the consensus against in the debate.

There are an awful lot of creative people who do not want this bill. It is only the large companies that have not moved quickly with technology that want it. As always increased regulation will only serve to shore up the market incumbants and make it more difficult for independents and new startups to enter the industry. I consider this a bad thing. Do you? This will also apply to the ISPs that the burden of cost will fall on for the (technological unfeasable) measures the bill forces on them.

Please, at the least, ask your whips to drop clause 11 to 18 which are by far the most damaging clauses in this bill.

Many thanks again for reading,

Best wishes,


UPDATE 2010-04-07 14:28: Jim Fitzpatrick’s reply:

Thanks Toby, I’ll let you know what happens,

UPDATE 2010-04-08 12:16: Jim Fitzpatrick was one of the Ayes.

Published on 2010/04/07 at 10:44 by Toby, tags , , , , ,

TCSOTD 2006-12-12

Home office child porn expert admits child porn charge

The phony war on Christmas

Smart Card Alliance criticizes RFID passport plans

Firefox 3 Alpha Released

Sense of smell may be tied to quantum physics

Wordie: like flickr but without the photos

DNA ‘should be taken from babies’
… “It is about time we had a debate about whether we want to turn from a nation of citizens into one of suspects” — Liberty

The PPL FT advert included dead people

Published on 2006/12/12 at 06:33 by Toby, tags , , , , , , , , , , , ,

A Night Backstage

Ben and I are in there somewhere

Saturday night saw Ben and I make our way to the BBC Backstage Christmas party and what a good night was had! It has been a long time since I last went to an event like this so my networking skills were low but the only way to improve is to just damn well Do It so here is the obligatory blog report.

As well as free beer, some great spicy food and a huge cake provided by I got to meet Matt again after a long time out of contact. and it was weird to know that he has been reading this blog. In fact the phrase “Ah yes, I read about that on your blog” was oft heard throughout the evening.

As someone who is a bit of a lurker on the ORG mailing list it was a pleasure to finally meet Suw Charman. it was great to talk to her about digital rights and politics and hopefully we managed to get something interesting out of the meeting, but I will leave that to Ben to talk about…

I also met David who, after some conversational games, turned out to be working with another friend of mine who wasn’t at the bash. There were lots of similar joining of dots going on around us as people networked away and I hope to see some interesting projects come out of the party.

Meeting Ben’s OSS Advocate friend Dave was interesting, albeit brief, but it was good to finally meet him and I hope to see him again and talk properly with him.

To the Reading student who was convinced that I had been seen around other similar events I can safely confirm that going Core Duo isn’t one of my skills so it was the first time that we had met – but I look forward to your blog going non-beta…

The goody bag at the end had the mandatory T-Shirt and a copy of the latest Make Magazine which I am seriously considering taking a subscription out for – the first time in a long time that I have even come close to wanting to do so for a technology magazine.

Finally, many thanks to all the people who were involved with making sure that this party became reality. I had a fantastic time!

Oh, and Twitter really needs metadata, but I’m not sure I grok the idea of it too well…

Photo is from cubicgarden’s Flickr Photostream.

Published on 2006/12/10 at 19:39 by Toby, tags , , ,

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