After this we moved to the afternoon sessions where I attended one titled, How far is too far? Freedom of the Press and Social Media. Here we heard from Brian Cathcart (Hacked Off), Clive Lewis (NUJ, PPC for Norwich South), Caroline Criado-Perez (journalist, feminist activist), Tom Watson MP. Anyone who knows me, will know that I have a lot of opinion in this area so was very excited to be a part of this discussion.
Prof Brian Cathcart started the talks, explaining the process of the recent Leveson enquiry. Leveson found that newspapers were guilty of wreaking havoc in the lives of ordinary people and that the entire industry was routinely serving their own interests rather than those of the public. Brian explained Leveson's recommendations which did not receive a lot of media attention. one of the recommendations for press regulation which the media begged Cameron not to do, so he came up with a Royal Charter which is not going to have an effect on the way in which these large media organisations will conduct. Showing a right wing Government backing down to their friend's demands but allowing corruption and dirty tactics by Murdoch and his money bag friends.
We then heard from Clive Lewis, a man with a direct approach and a clear message. He spoke about his delight in the closure of NoW but concerns of NI's other movements. He said that reform in this area is long overdue, there should be press freedom but with this comes power and responsibility, if free press run as a herd, people will get trampled, which is what is happening now. Clive also spoke about an opportunity for a clause that allows journalists to opt out of stories where the practice is not what they condone, like phone hacking.
Caroline Criado-Perez has been a trending name on Twitter this year. She started with the good intention to get a woman on British currency, other than the Queen. She succeeded to do this and instead of congratulated, she was punished, not just by men scared of a strong woman, but by many man and women. Caroline spoke about the messages she received and lack of legal or corporate help she received. Caroline explained how she thought on what to do regarding this. Where they practising their right to free speech or should she not retaliate and 'feed the trolls'? Caroline told stories tat she has learnt from this by meeting others and shared about how black women get told by the police to stop speaking out against racism, girls who fall under pressure and delete their Twitter account 2 weeks after joining Uni at a time when social connection is needed most. Caroline pushed that police should prosecute against these online messages more and shouldn't only investigate when there is media attention. She said social media companies should listen more to the users and change the blocking rules. Caroline ended by encouraging us to challenge misogyny, bring back woman in the curriculum, especially where there are no women in the key stage 4 history subject and we should make women as relevant as men in public life.
Finally we heard from Tom Watson who was very brief but powerful in speaking. He criticised the institutions who should protect the public but intact failed like in the sad Downer case. Murdoch acts distance from these issues and passes ownership which keeps getting passed and no one is found responsible for such disgusting acts to our own nation. The Tories allowed Murdoch and his staff to think they were above the law. Tom ended by reading facts on where trust has been lost from the public. Politicians, utility companies, unions and so much more need to rebuild this trust before there is too much corrosion on society. Tom explained we must be a part of this rebuilding of trust and not back down.
This is where I had to leave to make sure I could get back to my family and see my daughter before bed time, because before all politics trade union activity and power to the people, my priorities start at home, as I believe they should for us all. he day inspired me, the speakers educated and empowered me. Class has brought a new opportunity for ALL members of society to come together and be a part of policy making for the Labour party. We keep talking about rebuilding the links between unions and the Labour party, we ll here is our opportunity. Trade unions built the labour party so we should be sending a member of every branch of ever union to every Labour event or meeting to have OUR say. Many union issues all lead back to politics and we need to be more active in politics, so where better to start than the political party our brothers and sisters made many years ago. I do not believe it is about Labour rebuilding the links with unions, I believe it is about unions being more involved in Labour activity, leading to stronger union activity in the Labour policies.
Dan Lewis CWU BFS Rep + Communications Officer twitter.com/think_become