Blogging, journalism, the citizen and convergence…

A few weeks ago I did this interview with Julia Hobsbawm of Editorial Intelligence, in which I lay out some thoughts on the convergence of blogging and journalism and in particular the role of the private citizen in calling political elites to account for the conduct of their mandates. Its worth picking though the full set of interviews with leading commentators like Nick Cohen, Peter York, and Mary Riddell.


  • parci

    Mick, with those amazing hand gestures, and some practice, you may find a bit of extra christmas work doubling as a hand puppeteer 😉

  • Only Asking


    Do you remember the Rathergate affair? And Charles Johnson? It now seems Johnson is involved in controversy himself. Without going into all of that isn’t there a danger that this sort of thing – the controversy between the bloggers – could develop. If that happens who is there to lay down some basic rules – not only of exchange but of verifying facts – and what happens if libel or anything else unscrupulous happens in the in-fighting between bloggers?

    If the msm is bypassed in favour of alternate methods of getting news out – isn’t there a danger in that of leading people down the wrong path, with this kind of thing its easy for things to get out of control like for example, the riots not so long ago in Birmingham. Where a pirate radio station put a lot of things out there that clearly added to those riots? That a young woman was raped etc.

    A bit like some pirate radio stations that flared up in Belfast at the beginning of the troubles which fed the flames of sectarianism.

    Can’t alternate media on the internet lead to increased race hate crimes for example.

    What you say, for the most part is fine and dandy, where responsible journalists are involved, but that is not always the case is it? And then what….

  • Nevin

    “the role of the private citizen in calling political elites to account for the conduct of their mandates”

    According to Allister some elites are becoming ever more impervious.

  • DC

    Well you certainly kept it simple stupid. Very concise and understandable. Nice piano piece too.

  • The Dubliner

    Jim Allister is right. We are being are being robbed of our sovereignty and nationality by stealth, without debate and without it being our democratic decision. Ireland is the only one of 27 states that will give its people the right to decide via a referendum. We should vote no and sink the Lisbon Treaty. In Ireland’s case, voting ‘yes’ is voting for our own economic destruction. Manuel Barroso has postponed the plans for a common European tax base until AFTER the Irish referendum. Why? Because if he included them for this session then they would feature in the Irish electorate’s decision, and they don’t want folks to know that harmonisation on the calculation of tax liability between the states would mean that Ireland would lose its tax sovereignty and it’s highly competitive corporation tax policy, having a disastrous effect on the Irish economy. It is not an exaggeration to say that a yes vote is economic suicide by Ireland, but will the Irish government properly inform the people? No, because they have already said they’re in favour of a yes vote – hence inviting leaders from other states here to campaign for it (and our own destruction). Bertie is putting his own future career prospects before the interests of his own country.

  • The Dubliner

    ^^ To Nevin

  • Ulster’s my homeland

    Fealty, why do you crave the camera?

  • Dubliner, are you at all aware that the veto over tax policy remains in the Lisbon Treaty? So, that Ireland (and, just as likely, the UK) would be able to block the Commission’s proposals?

    Whatever your fantasies about Barroso’s motives (where do you get your insights?), fact is that the Consolidated Tax Base proposals could only be introduced as they were meant to be, which is under an ‘enhanced cooperation’ framework (as in by some states and not others). Why were the proposals to be introduced under this framework? Because Ireland and the UK would use their veto if they were proposed as applying everywhere.

    Did I mention the veto?

    With that out of the way, something on a slightly different note. It is almost certainly true that Ireland increasing its tax rates would be pretty catastrophic. As a result we are forced to keep our rates low. Whether we want the current rates or not is entirely irrelevant to whether we do or not: now that it’s the cornerstone of Irish competitive advantage we have no choice but to keep them if we want to avoid a total economic meltdown.

    With this in mind, can we desist with the fantasy that a small open economy like Ireland has something called ‘tax sovereignty’ to defend?

  • The Dubliner

    Ciarán, you appear to be a tad confused about the meaning of ‘veto’ and ‘sovereignty,’ making you contradict yourself. If a country has the right of veto then it retains sovereignty. Ergo, it is a contradiction to claim that “the veto over tax policy remains” for Ireland and then claim that Ireland doesn’t have “something called ‘tax sovereignty’ to defend.”

    Tax sovereignty simply means that a sovereign state sets its own tax policy. This is currently the case with Ireland, where we have set a tax policy that is more competitive than other member states. This is what Ireland has to defend. You also contradict yourself, of course, by claiming that non-defence of it would be “pretty catastrophic.”

    Now, the Lisbon Treaty removes national vetoes in a plethora of areas where the nation state is currently sovereign and where the people by self-determination in a democratic poll currently decide the applicable policy. In case sovereignty, independence and self-determination are unfamiliar concepts to you: they’re what the fathers of the Irish nation state died for and they are they ideals that form the basis of the Irish Republic. They are being pilfered by those who seek to build a socialist superstate by graduation without the consent of the people via referendum, with the Lisbon Treaty as its de facto constitution. One example: the Charter of Fundamental Rights will profoundly affect national sovereignty and it is included in the Treaty making it legally binding on members. Only the UK had the foresight to see how this would effect its national sovereignty in the matter of its labour laws, so it negotiated a protocol to be added giving it the right to opt-out of it. However, legal experts differ on how effective that opt-out will be. Other states nominally have the right to opt in or out but the fact that none of them have done so (and none have give the people the right to decide) shows that what is presented as optional or aspirational is intended to be constitutional and binding. In reality, the power is with the superstate of Europe, and national governments have had their sovereignty removed by degrees to the point where they are powerless to oppose the will of the mandarins because to do so means sanction, censure and exclusion. Just as they didn’t resist decades ago, they find they can’t resist now. Ireland’s citizens, however, can do the nations of Europe a huge favour that their governments can’t and won’t by sinking this Treaty, thereby knocking back Project Socialist Superstate of Europe of course . If it gets this de facto constitution then that’s the end of it: we’re all European citizens and national government, independence, sovereignty, and self-determination slide into meaningless irrelevancies inside of the Superstate.

    In the matter of “Barroso’s motives” and the actual manner of how tax sovereignty is to be removed from member states: I suggest you acquaint yourself with his actions/a> and at the socialists squealing about Ireland’s citizens having the right to decide its own policies for an indication of the contempt in which the architects of the Socialist Superstate of Europe hold the people. 😉

    [i]Plans for a common tax base for European companies have been postponed by Jose Manuel Barroso, the president of the European Commission.

    Barroso has removed the plans for a common tax base – which would adopt a common means of calculating tax liability – from the Commission’s strategic priorities for 2008.

    The move, made last week, has been criticised by some MEPs as caving in to Irish pressure in advance of the referendum on the new European Treaty.

    The commissioner with responsibility for tax, Laszlo Kovacs, told MEPs last week that a legislative proposal for a common tax base would still be published, but not until after the summer break next year.

    Senior sources in Brussels said the decision to drop the common tax base as a priority meant that the proposal was now unlikely to be finalised in the lifetime of the present parliament and commission.

    Irish commissioner Charlie McCreevy is known to have campaigned extensively inside the EC for the change made by Barroso. McCreevy warned that the plans for the tax base – which have been opposed by the Irish government as a potential threat to Ireland’s low corporate tax rates – could become an issue in the debate on the forthcoming referendum.

    The Irish referendum on the reform treaty next year is expected to be the only public vote on the new treaty in the EU, and it has assumed enormous importance in Brussels.”

    – Pat Leahy, Political Correspondent, Sunday Business Post[/i]

  • The Dubliner

    Apology to Mick for knocking the thread off topic!

  • I know: sorry Mick from me too!

    On ‘veto’ and ‘sovereignty’ I’m not at all confused. I was making two different points and it takes a spectacular reading of my comment not to notice that. The veto point referred to whether Ireland could end up with a different tax base regime imposed from the EU.

    On ‘tax sovereignty,’ I was making a more general point (as I had said). We, as a small open economy, happen to be beholden to international capital on the question of how we set corporate taxes. So in fact we don’t have sovereignty. See how it works? We can’t be outvoted on tax policy at the European level, because we have a veto over European policy, but neither is it correct to say we can entirely choose our tax policy. So sovereignty on this front is, at best, limited.

    On Barosso, I hadn’t read on speculations regarding the EP and Ireland, although the EP communique on Lisbon expresses regret at Barosso’s move. And yes, people like Brian Crowley demanded that Barosso lay off the tax stuff. Still, note what he said: “The treaties do not give you the power to come up with tax proposals. The Commission has to stay away from it.” Not quite true: the Commission can come up with proposals to its heart’s content (the very very boring details of the tax proposals are here), but it is the case that Ireland’s (and any other state’s) power to veto tax proposals remains. And that’s without even mentioning the ‘enhanced cooperation framework’ suggestion in the proposals (which means that, if they were ever to see the light of day, they would be on an opt-in basis).

    So, given all of this, on what planet is it correct to say that “voting ‘yes’ is voting for our own economic destruction”? The plans are shelved because the Irish resisted it. Irish powers to resist Commission tax proposals are unaffected by Lisbon.

    Your initial comment strongly implies that a vote for Lisbon will lead inevitably to the common consolidated tax base. Do you accept that this is simply untrue?

  • topdeckomnibus

    Hi Mick

    I don’t know if this is on topic. But, as you know, I try to use the net to acquire information and to raise concerns.

    In the past twelve months I have been provided with information relating to the wartime MI9 service of Airey Neave.

    I have been given solid information about the falsification of test records for equipment supplied to the Royal navy.

    I have been given solid information concerning the last year of Leonard Cheshire’s life.

    And someone, who had intended to make a huge legacy to the charity, (circa five million in property) contacted me about the Matron Mary McGill sudden death at Sue Ryder and leonard Cheshire’s home in 1972. Wished me luck in finally securing justice for the Matron who had the temerity to criticise their care standards. And changed the legacy so that the charity did not get it.

    Merry Christmas.