Ministry of Justice Blocks My Electoral Address: BBC Changes The Rules: UCU Bars Me From Candidates’ Debate 128


STOP PRESS

With grateful thanks to famous human rights lawyers Birnberg Peirce, (who advised I had a complete legal right) the Royal Mail have now at the last possible second relented and accepted that I can send out a DVD as an Electoral Communication. So we are going full blast to get it out!!

This has so far been a rollocking campaign of small victories, all achieved because of the friends I have made in my civil rights work over the years. I am both buoyed and humbled.

Every candidate in a parliamentary election has the right to have one “election communication” delivered free of charge by the Post Office.

These are normally rather dull leaflets, so I decided to put my election address on a DVD. It’s rather picturesque and entitled “A Norfolk Journey”. 80,000 copies are being made.

The Post Office is so far refusing to deliver it. The “election communication” must meet the Post Office’s “Reasonable Terms And Conditions” for such communications. These are published. The main ones are that it:

Must weigh less than 60gm – mine is less than 40gm

Must be less than 5mm thick – mine is 2mm thick

Must meet length and width criteria – mine is well inside

Must be securely folded or in a sealed envelope – mine is the latter

Must marked “electoral communication” amd carry printed and published info – mine does

Must be sorted by postcode and address – mine is.

Extraordinarily, the Post Office must also vet the content for libel, incitement to violence or incitement to racial hatred. That is a strange bit of censorship – they don’t check the content of normal mail theydeliver – but my DVD passes that test too.

There is nothing in the criteria at all that says the communication must be in the 14th century medium of printed ink on paper. The regulations are silent on the medium of communication. If you took a DVD in an envelope to any Post Office, you would have no difficulty posting it as a letter.

Yet the Post Office refuses to give permission for the delivery, apparently on the grounds that nobody has ever sent a DVD before as their election communication. They have not actually refused, but have delayed beyond the stage where it is logistically possible to get it out.

They are acting, they say, on legal advice from the Ministry of Justice – prop. Jack Straw! The man who brought you the dodgy dossier on Iraqi Weapons of Mass Destruction.

At the moment, it looks like the voters of Norwich North will be denied my electoral address before they vote – unless we can get a real flood of volunteers in to deliver them ourselves.

Even more sleazy is the BBC’s response to the many complaints about their decision to exclude me from all election coverage. They have started to send out standard replies saying:

one of the key factors they look for is “evidence of past and/or current electoral support” in that electoral area.

Note the BBC’s own quotation marks within that quote. They have tacked on “In that area” to their formal criterion.

When the BBC banned me from all coverage at the last General Election when I stood in Blackburn against Jack Straw, who is blocking my electoral address now, the BBC explained it was because I had no “evidence of past and/or current electoral support”.

I gained 5% in that election – which is a lot better than the 3% the Greens got in the same election in Norwich North. That 5% may have been modest, but it does meet the BBC’s criterion. So the BBC have now moved the goalposts to exclude me, by adding a brand new stipulation “in that area” to their criterion, so the electoral support in Blackburn does not count – despite the fact I might reasonably expect to do a lot better in my own county.

Finally, despite numerous representations from within their own union, the Universities and Colleges Union have still banned me from this evenings candidates’ education debate, despite the fact that I am the Rector of a Univeristy and a great deal more interesting on the subject than the rest of the candidates put together.

http://www.craigmurray.org.uk/archives/2009/06/the_value_of_ed.html


128 thoughts on “Ministry of Justice Blocks My Electoral Address: BBC Changes The Rules: UCU Bars Me From Candidates’ Debate

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  • Dennis

    Hi Craig,

    Sounds like you’re getting screwed from all sides. Just remember that the change you make as a result of this campaign need not be as a result of winning. It could be as a result of pursuing legal options against the buggers who’re suppressing your campaign.

    Cheers,

    Dennis

  • Ian

    URGENT URGENT URGENT

    HELP NEEDED NOW

    I was up in Norwich yesterday helping delivering leaflets.

    Craig needs foot soldiers out pounding the streets leafleting.

    So stop blogging. Get off your backsides and get up to Norwich.

    THE ELECTION IS ONLY TWO WEEKS FROM TODAY

    It’s only 2 hours by train from London Liverpool Street Station.

    Craig’s Election HQ is 07908 053099 or 07908 053098

    8 ?” 10 Cromer Road, Norwich NR6 6ND (above The Insurance Centre).

    It’s on the A140 by the crossroads where Boundary Road, Aylsham Road, Cromer Road and Mile Cross Lane meet.

    While we were leafleting last night, we saw that NuLabour were out knocking on doors, they weren’t getting a much of a response. You can make a real difference.

    PUT AN HONEST MAN INTO PARLIAMENT

  • dreoilin

    “So the BBC have now moved the goalposts to exclude me, by adding a brand new stipulation “in that area” to their criterion”

    –Craig

    I hadn’t picked up on that nugget.

    It did occur to me that IF they were basing their coverage on “past electoral support” in any given area, they would be automatically giving preference and weight to the previous “incombent party”.

    By the way, I couldn’t access this site for much of the day yesterday – no idea why. I wondered if the blog was suffering a DOS attack, or some other mischief. But maybe the “fault” was at my end.

  • Anonymous

    hang in their matey………

    As for the UCU….shame on you, your decit will not go unnoticed

  • dreoilin

    “Get off your backsides and get up to Norwich”

    Believe me, I would if I could.

  • John

    I wouldn’t be voting for you if I were a voter in Norwich, but I do find all of your difficulties listed above and before deeply disturbing. Good luck in seeking redress.

  • sam

    Craig, this is all very disturbing and despicable.

    If I had one wish for the UK it would be that the mass of its apathetic, head-in-the-sand, moron ‘citizens’ wake up and smell the rancid coffee. What you’re experiencing is dictatorship-by-covert-blockading. This is Stalinism with a ‘proper’, oh-so-correct, British face. It’s not until you’ve experienced this concerted process personally that you understand just how corralled and hamstrung the vast majority of us actually are – and just how utterly extinct democracy is in the UK.

    History is clear: pendulums always swings back. There will be a backlash at some point in the future. But for now that knowledge is not helpful in getting you elected. It appears that the masses haven’t quite had enough neo-Stalinism yet though.

    I suspect you’ll stay strong and keep on pushing – and all best wishes to you. Hey, all we insomniacs – the awoken ones! – NEED you to keep on pushing…

  • Abe Rene

    The leaders of the Post Office, who are responsible for this unfairness, evidently think that they are immune from retribution. Perhaps one day they will be held criminally responsible for this breach of electoral law, and no Nulab Minister will save them.

  • Ed

    Craig,

    I’m wondering why every little branch of the State (even “arms-length” branches like the BBC and the Royal Mail) seems to be making life hard for you.

    If you were elected, is there something you would say, with the protection of parliamentary privilege, that would make somebody very afraid?

  • Tom

    “It’s rather picturesque and entitled “A Norfolk Journey”.”

    Can we watch it on youtube/vimeo/whatever instead?

  • Kevin B

    By such dishonest and, frankly, disgusting machinations the BBC reveal their true face.

    As their reporting on Iraq, Afghanistan and much else reveals, they are a mere instrument of the globalist corporate/banking oligarchs that need the 3-headed one party state to remain in control in the UK so that they can continue delivering their mind-and-soul-rotting-agenda that is delivered to us by the carcasses of their brain-dead puppets that fester within the House of Commons.

  • Jives

    Despicable.

    However…the more they sink to these depths the more they engineer their own future obsolesence.

    They’re actually too thick and short-termist to realise that of course.

    Keep going Craig and co!

  • subrosa

    “It’s rather picturesque and entitled “A Norfolk Journey”.”

    Can we watch it on youtube/vimeo/whatever instead?

    – Tom

    Now there’s an idea Craig. Put it on Youtube and put an advert in the local paper giving the URL.

  • David Allen

    Ugh, how evil can you get, bombing innocent people with thin plastic discs?

    Drilling holes in their buttocks would be perfectly all right, of course.

  • MJ

    One tiny glimmer of good news. I’ve just noticed that on the Eastern regional news section of the BBC’s TV text service, Craig is the only candidate mentioned by name in its story about the NN by-election. The para reads:

    “Among the independents standing is Craig Murray, former Ambassador to Uzbekistan, who left the post in 2004 after criticising its human rights”.

  • Abe Rene

    You need to get a DVD message all over Norwich, the Post Office illegally refuses to deliver, alternatives are too expensive, and delivering them personally is impractical in the time. You need to deliver a speech and are illegally being refused venues. A few suggestions, on the remote chance that you haven’t already looked into them:

    1. Go into the centre of Norwich with a soapbox and cases of DVDs and GIVE them away – but tell the young people that they are welcome to rip them off and circulate them, or post them on Youtube.

    2. Put it on Youtube if you haven’t already done so, and make it snappy!

    3. Email students at the UEA or other colleges, offering them the DVD free to download, and encourage them not only to circulate it but talk about it.

    By these means, if you’re lucky the DVD will become notorious before the election. Excellent!

    But suppose that the Ministry of Justice raises objections? Posible solutions:

    1. Refuse to speak to anyone except the Minister himself, and when you do, tell him that you share his concern about illegal and corrupt political practices like treating candidates, declining to take effective action about postal votes, refusing legitimate candidates venues, and so on.

    2. Say publicly that you are outraged at this flagrant breach of copyright, and when you are Minister of Justice, depend on it, Heads Will Roll who are responsible for the situation. The Heads in question are, of course, the present leaders of the Ministry of Justice.

    Finally, good luck!

  • George Dutton

    The government just has to snap it’s fingers and it can get people to do it’s bidding. It’s as if the government expect people to be immoral,dishonest,cowardly. Once again all this seems to prove them right.

    Craig Murray when making a stand when british ambassador proved the old saying as being true…”The exception that proves the rule”. These people should really think ahead what their actions today will do in the long term to ALL of us including themselves.But it seems they are incapable of thinking ahead…That must be why they are giving positions of power, they don’t think they just obey.

  • datman

    I do hope that there will be plenty of attendees at the UCU meeting who will take the opportunity to ask questions who might just start of by saying something along the lines of ” I have a question but first let me say that I am disappointed and ashamed that my union has…………..Now the question is do you agree with Craig Murray that……………….”A university must be a place of stimulating intellectual debate across not only the myriad topics of academia, but on the issues of the day affecting society as a whole. The best minds must clash and spark, and students must be fully and intellectually engaged. A university must constitute a vast whirring machinery of the mind, reacting to and operating on the wider society of which it forms an integral part. It must be a place of the liveliest and best informed debate, where no subject is out of bounds, or over-respected, or immune from the heat of debate. A university must be a democratic discussion. If it is not that, it is not a university” or some other such words as might be fitting to the topics under debate.

  • SJB

    Here is the response I received from the BBC about two hours ago:

    Many thanks for your recent e-mail to Caroline Thomson, which has been

    forwarded to me.

    It’s not usually feasible for the Chief Operating Officer to respond to

    complaints direct: the BBC has an established complaints procedure to

    ensure that they are handled in the most efficient and effective way for

    our audiences and for our programme-makers. Therefore, if you wish to make

    a complaint in future, may I ask that you use the webform at

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/complaints.

    Turning to the subject of your complaint; especially when there are a large

    number of candidates (at least 10 so far in Norwich North) the broader

    interests of the voters would not be served by giving equal coverage to

    each and every candidate, irrespective of their chances of success. So when

    editors are deciding how much coverage to give, relatively, to different

    parties and candidates in any election, one of the key factors they look

    for is “evidence of past and/or current electoral support” in that

    electoral area.

    On that basis, in Norwich there is clear evidence of support for the three

    main parties as well as for the Green Party and therefore those parties

    will be getting similar levels of coverage. Similarly, there is evidence

    from the recent elections that both UKIP and the BNP have some support in

    at least parts of the constituency and they will also, proportionately, be

    given an appropriate level of coverage by programmes covering the

    by-election.

    Other candidates, including independents, will receive at least a minimum

    level of coverage and may, where editorially justified, receive more

    coverage proportionate to the other parties – again taking some account of

    evidence of electoral support in the constituency.

    As for Michael Crick; it would not be appropriate for us to comment on the

    personal political views of our journalists one way or the other. They are

    well aware of our commitment to impartiality and are expected to put their

    own political views to one side when carrying out their work for the BBC.

    Senior editorial staff, the Executive Committee and the BBC Trust keep a

    close watch on programmes to ensure that standards of impartiality are

    maintained.

    I do hope this reply addresses your concerns and I can assure you that they

    have been registered on our audience log.

    Thanks again for taking the time to get in touch.

  • Tom Kennedy

    Craig – this is The State laid bare for everyone to see. The Labour Party was like this since at least the days of John Smith.

    Here is the list of the current directors of the Royal Mail:

    http://www.royalmail.com/portal/rm/content1?catId=23200554&mediaId=23200557

    subrosa – that’s a good suggestion provided that the link to the video is transmitted somehow to the people of Norwich North.

    Abe Rene’s suggestion of giving away the DVDs is good, especially if you advertise the fact that the Post Office has refused to post them. Everyone loves to see what thye’ve not been allowed to.

    Also good is encouraging the kids to rip the DVD and put up YouTube videos – maybe start a competition to see who can get the greatest number of views?

    YouTube has a 10 minute maximum on clips so it would have to be split into segments. But there’s also Megavideo, video.google.com and dailymotion.com which allow longer clips.

  • SJB

    Did you ask Birnberg Peirce whether the polling date could be postponed to allow the Post Office time to deliver your election communication?

  • SJB

    Regarding your exclusion from the Hustings event, I emailed Colin Bland – the Chief Executive of Broadland District Council – about the risk that the council may be held vicariously liable for any breaches of the Human Rights Act 1998 caused by the UCU’s decision. In his response, he seems to be relying on the Electoral Commission’s Guidance on Hustings that there is no legal requirement for all candidates to be invited. However, the document he cites is dated December 2006 and it may be possible that the Commission’s statement is no longer a true statement of the law. Birnberg Peirce should know.

  • Leo Davidson

    Craig, this sites DNS name servers are down which means people who don’t have the IP address of http://www.craigmurray.org.uk cached on their machines already cannot access the site.

    Something we might not notice easily ourselves (as we’re likely to have it cached) so I thought I’d point it out.

  • Rob

    Craig, don’t like your politics but like it a lot, lot better than the current incumbents.

    If I hear one of the lousy tossbags say the word ‘democracy’ again my TV and radio are likely to take some terrible punishment.

    The quicker the existing system is destroyed, the quicker we may, possibly get back to some sort of democratic process.

    Oh, and that would include disbanding the BBC.

  • Roderick Russell

    Craig,

    You are getting the run around. And so blatantly too – There isn’t even any shame from these people. My own experience is just another example of this. It seems to me that it is now the establishment, and not the elected government, that pulls the strings in the country’s institutions. Rule of Law; Fair Play ?” What’s that!! Something has clearly gone wrong with the parliamentary system of democracy which doesn’t seem to be functioning properly. And what is wrong with the current batch of politicians that they don’t seem interested in protecting even basis democratic rights.

    Roderick Russell

  • James D

    You may be an “honest man” but you see plots everywhere.

    “Extraordinarily, the Post Office must also vet the content for libel, incitement to violence or incitement to racial hatred. That is a strange bit of censorship – they don’t check the content of normal mail they deliver ”

    You said it yourself – normal mail.

    The post office does check direct mail it is asked to deliver because there are strict laws in place about what can be said in ads and electoral campaigns. This isn’t censorship, it’s commercial sense. Remember last week that the BNP was deemed not to be inciting people to acts of racial hatred because it put its own leaflets through people’s letterboxes rather than giving them out on the street or making the claims in anything sent out as an electoral address. Royal Mail, like any company, would want to retain the right to ensure it could not land itself in trouble. Royal Mail has a right to refuse to carry any item of post, but in this case it’s not a political decision, just a commercial one.

    I know from my own experience of sending “junk mail” (I’m not proud, I was young, I needed the money) that I had to jump through several hoops and have what I was sending approved (in this case it was purely in terms of measurements, including things like distance the postage paid bars were from the edge of the envelope and the typeface used – nothing about censorship but purely about the logistics of getting all the envelopes through the automated sorting machines!

    So there are two sets of hurdles – the first being the boring technical stuff. the second being that the Royal Mail is potentially liable (I understand) for the content of messages contained in ads etc in a way it is not for private communication. (If you receive a personal letter that libels you, your claim is against the author and publisher of the letter, but if you receive a mass mailing then Royal Mail are the publisher) Not sure this has been tested in court yet, mind, but I understand Royal Mail’s reluctance.

    (I’m reminded of an issue recently when a religious group tried to do a mass mailing of DVDs – can’t remember how that one turned out but I have a feeling it might have some relevance here).

    In terms of checking out the content of the DVD – again I can understand their reluctance to set a precedent here. Printed leaflets can be looked over very quickly but recordings are a different matter. A DVD can contain several hours of video and if a precedent is set with yours, then who knows what’s going to happen next? Five-hour videos of David Cameron doing the washing up in lieu of a manifesto in 2010? No thanks.

    The Jack Straw situation is interesting, more because it’s just silly to think he’s got it in for you. The issue here will be a simple one: distributing video content in this way may mean the electoral address falls under the remit of other legislation because it is in effect a broadcast. Remember the controversy that surrounded BT’s attempts to enter the television market? It was deemed okay for BT lines to be used to request video from web pages, but not for BT to become a distributor of content – it’s since overcome this issue and has the BT Vision service.

    But Royal Mail hasn’t yet gone through that process. The question that would need to be answered is, is it one thing for RM to deliver DVDs etc from Amazon, LoveFilm and so on, but a different thing to be used as a means to distribute original programming? Thinking about the recent debates on the future of broadcasting and “digital Britain” I think your simple request has caused a headache that has nothing to do with you or the election, but a lot of commercial interests.

    Even if Straw (and I doubt it went anywhere near him, this question) thought (like I do) there was nothing wrong with it, it’s not actually his place to say “yes” – the prudent thing here would be to say “let’s look at this in more detail” which translates immediately as “no”.

    I suspect if your DVD is sent out, it will create a precedent that has wider repercussions. It’s an interesting debate but it’s in no way part of any campaign against you.

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