"..a bardy view!"

Bardiness 400- Speakers’ Corner……

Speakers-Corner-006This is my 400th Bardiness post.

In a democracy where the ballot box is the measure of freedom, sometimes the common man needs to voice his concerns beyond the electorate system. The internet has given a voice to the silent, and blogs have given a platform to the unheard. Those voices are all shouting now, and the noise is deafening.

Speakers’ Corner in London’s Hyde Park is a place where those with a point of view can stand up and express themselves. Some will get an audience, some will not, and some will get heckled. It has been designated a space for freedom of speech for over 165 years.

Anyone can turn up unannounced, and talk on any subject. As recently as 1999 a ruling by Lord Justice Sedley in his decision with a case involving the UK Director of Public Prosecutions, described Speakers’ Corner as demonstrating “the tolerance which is both extended by the law to  opinion of every kind and expected by the law in the conduct of those who disagree, even strongly, with what they hear,”

This ruling famously established in English case law that freedom of speech could not be limited to the inoffensive but extended also to “the irritating, the contentious, the eccentric, the heretical, the unwelcome, and the provocative, as long as such speech did not tend to provoke violence” .

That Right, accorded by Article 10 of the European Convention of Human Rights, also accorded the right to be offensive.

What is a blog then…if not a virtual Speakers Corner? A place where we can be “irritating, contentious, eccentric, heretical, unwelcome and provocative”, providing we don’t provoke violence or hatred? There may be many blogs inciting the latter two, but Bardiness stands by English Law, and the European Convention of Human Rights.

This post is an expression of the fundamental principles of freedom of speech. Bardiness may not be everyone’s cup of tea – but there are countries in the world which won’t even allow the leaves in the pot, never mind allow them to brew and be poured.

Perhaps in the future “Englishness” will become synonymous with “freedom”.  Archaic words along with lost Latin meaning  tolerance, courage, dignity and self-respect.

They say that every Englishman is born free. Living free however is a constant battle and something we must fight for everyday……

Freedom in death is freedom too late.

This story shall the good man teach his son;
And Crispin Crispian shall ne’er go by,
From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be remember’d;
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne’er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition:
And gentlemen in England now a-bed
Shall think themselves accursed they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin’s day.

(Shakespeare HenryV scene III)


March 3, 2016 Posted by | Arts, Culture, Education, History, Politics, United Kingdom | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Hold the Press…Hot News…….

Thankyou Header The holidays are officially upon us. It's the time when Parliament goes into recess and the country can get on with life free from the Westminster Village machinations.

Officially known as the silly season, when the newspapers and other media struggle to find stories to tickle their reader’s fancies and when the true hacks wander aimlessly from their drunken stupors seeking to justify their existence.

This summer recess may be different however. The hacks in question have found themselves in the same food chain as estate agents and ambulance chasing lawyers, and even the term "hack" has an extremely negative connotation. Hacks hack, and hacking is synonymous with underhand and illegal spying.

Before the days of cell-phones, smart-phones, i-pads et al, the poor old hack had to tramp the streets in his gabardine and trilby seeking out salacious juicy stories and hopefully a local pub would be nearby where he could ply the barflies with a few drinks to garner some rumour or gossip. Indeed, they may even have blagged their way into information pretending to be someone else.

Outrageous I hear you call! The News of the World, that bastion of red-top sanctimonious hypocrisy, managed to dig the dirt for 160 years with these methods. Unfortunately technology was the death knell for it. So easy did it become to spy on people’s phones, that it became the norm. No one was spared; everyone was potential game – from royalty, to politicians, to celebrities and Joe Public. The technology was their playground.

The NotW may be the sacrificial lamb. The knives are out for the patriarchal owner Rupert Murdoch. It is the measure of a ruthless father to sacrifice his first born to save the siblings.

Murdock closed the News of the World with clinical precision. It was his first UK newspaper, but there is no room for nostalgia or sentiment in business. 200 people lost their jobs – a blip amongst a global workforce of 45,000. What would one expect from the man who destroyed Fleet Street and moved the whole industry to Wapping and took the printing unions face-on? His timing was impeccable.

Had not the unions suffered an even greater defeat earlier when they took on Maggie Thatcher during the miners strikes? If Maggie could defeat Scargill, then he could exploit the fallout.

From a small Australian town he systematically expanded his empire to become the biggest and most influential media baron in history. It's unlikely he shivered much at the UK Parliamentary Committee of Culture, Media and Sport for all his perceived fragility. But perhaps he was sincere when he said he was humbled. One man's humility is another man's weakness. Rupert Murdoch may be many things, but he's not weak.

Meanwhile the vultures are circling and carcasses lay prostrate. Rupert Murdoch is a US citizen. He didn't have to turn up to be questioned, but whatever he is, he's a fighter.

Such was his power he influenced public opinion and politicians pandered to him. He may now say that the NoTW is only 1% his business, but that paper, together with the Sun was the biggest selling Sunday rag in Britain, and the Sun was the biggest selling daily. If those papers decided to follow a particular agenda, you can bet they influenced the outcome.

Whether by design or accident, the Murdoch media became a conduit for politicians to pander too. Such was their power they could make or break an individual or cause. They took the barometer of a nation, and used it for their own mercenary purpose.

If the nation was horrified because a paedophile was on the loose, they would catch the mood and lobby parliament. If Soldiers fighting in Afghanistan were short of equipment, they would do likewise. They would catch the mood and that was their success. The readers didn't care who owned the paper, they just thought the paper was on their wavelength.

That was News International’s success. The Times was their legitimacy, but it was a loss maker which they propped up to maintain credibility.

Yet all of this boils down to business. Underhand and illegal practices should be justly condemned and those which perpetrated them should be prosecuted. But the culture which created it, the sycophantic behaviour of our elected representatives who feared it, the police who acquiesced to it, the payments which encouraged it, and the level of endemic complacency which tolerated it, is a cancer which fermented in a country which prided itself on its freedoms and justice.

There isn't really much left for the United Kingdom to shout about, but dignity, pride, incorruptibility, freedom and democracy were just five things which set it apart.

All have taken a knock – but don't blame the Murdoch press for that, they merely exploited the systematic weak successive governments which lost not only their sense of direction, but the moral compass which guided them.


July 20, 2011 Posted by | Current Affairs, Events, Politics, United Kingdom | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Killer Kangaroos and Great Britain

The news that a kangaroo not only attacked a dog but also it's owner must send spasms of fear in the Australian populace. Skippy would never have behaved in such a way.Union-jack1

It reminds me of the joke how the odd marsupial got it's name.

Apparently it received it's moniker from a Scotsman.

Trapped in an outside toilet in the outback of Australia – back in the early days -  he was screaming "ah canna geh oot! Ah canna geh oot!" (it was a glottalstop with a silent "t").

At the same time the strange jumping animal was hopping by innocently.

Folk who came to his rescue subsequently associated this wannabee wallaby as a Kang ar roo!

Jokes aside, this national emblem of Australia has enjoyed a greater prominence than that other symbol of uniqueness – the Aborigine. It would be unfair to associate them both in the same sentence, after all, one gets culled regularly to maintain a healthy population, whilst the other was once culled due to man's inhumanity to man.

Its a provocative statement, but the facts speak for themselves, and there are no winners in this.

At the time of European settlement it's estimated there were almost half a million indigenous people who had lived in Australia for 40,000 years.

As well as diseases such as smallpox which were brought by the early settlers and decimated the population, land and resources accounted for just as much of the decrease of native numbers. Add to that racial prejudice and perceived superiority, and they, like many elsewhere, were under threat.

The British will always be cited as the forebears of this, just as much as that which occurred in North America with the indigenous people there.

But whilst they may have lit the blue touch paper, it was successive governments which continued it, long after the British held no influence.

It's worth noting that it was after the American Civil War (fought to liberate slaves) that the states were unified and expanded westward, reducing the native peoples – long after the dastardly British (who abolished slavery years earlier) were gone.  What happened to those tribes and Indian nations (for that's what they were, regardless of the political correct idioms) is a history lesson not able to express itself with justice here.

Australia must come to it's own self-soul searching, just as the Americans and everyone else who finds the British a convenient excuse to justify their history.

As an Englishman, I don't feel any need to apologise. The world is not perfect, but at least a better place for having a British styled parliamentary democracy. Countries which had it and lost it turned into corrupt and exploitative regimes.

Think Zimbabwe and Burma and a host of other tin-pot African and Mid-East and Asian countries. Those that have kept it are fortunate that they have it. The flip side is to look at Spain and Portuguese influences where corruption and bad government abound – South America for example. Spain certainly must look at it's contribution to the world, and the virtual extermination of the Incas, Aztecs et al and the desire, at any expense to introduce global Catholicism.

No. I do not apologise for being English. Nor will you find me atoning for my ancestors sins or self-flagellating in a far flung outpost of lost empire. History must be viewed in the context of the times. It exists to learn from and not make past mistakes.

It's only 59 years since the Battle of Britain. When one nation stood fast and alone against the might of Nazi Germany. Let future generations judge us and question our heritage and say "that was our finest hour".

November 23, 2009 Posted by | History, Politics | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment


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