Issue 216
Spring 2021

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May 15, 2021

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Spring 2021 (7.8MB)

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Editorial Comment

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Red tape? We've got plenty!

IT COULD WELL BE, as our distinguished columnist Nick Jones suggests, in this issue, that bands of music makers and troubadors will overcome the obstacles put in their way by Brexit and somehow let their music be heard across Europe once more.

Maybe. But the damage being done to the arts, science and business by the madcap policy forced upon us by a clique of mainly privileged Tory extremists is already immense.

The Covid pandemic, a hugely biased right wing press and a massively costly Downing Street spin operation have so far managed to obscure the most serious effects, but the truth is slowly leaking out.

Musicians being forced to stump up hundreds in order to cut through the red tape to perform in Europe. (One hapless pianist was forced to find £600 for the necessary visa clearance to give one concert in Barcelona.)

Science is suffering too from the barmy 'Make Britain Great Again' withdrawal from joint European programmes.

Ironically, fishermen, who camapigned with one of loudest voices in support of Brexit are amongst the worst losers. The losses for some, it not nearly all, shellfish producers are almost total.

Agriculture and horticulture are suffering too, with mountains of paperwork to battle with and swathes of – yes red tape – to contend with.

But worry not – according to those nice spin doctors, and apologists like Mr Rees Mogg (who wisely saw to it that financial operations he was involved with moved 'offshore' to Dublin) – these are just teething problems we are experiencing before our economy booms mightly and we teach Johnny Foreigner a lesson or two.

It has to be said that there is previous little evidence of this coming boom and instead we see our standing in the world diminished by breaking international agreements and posturing on the world stage.

One of the most cringe making developments of recent times has been the re-vamping of policy presentation with a £2.5m facelift for Downing Street's press operation which seems to require a Union Jack (or often two) beside every speaker.

Third world, or what?

Not me, guv – I just take the loot

THE FOUNDER of the world wide web Tim (or Sir Timothy) Berners-Lee is right to feel some disappointment at the way his creation has grown up.

The altruism which accompanied the initial development of the idea has been sadly lost as greedy fingers have worked their way over its high minded ideals.

All attempts to bring some ethical and fiscal standards to bear on the big beasts who run the show have proved toothless.

The mega structures that dominate have shown how easily they can sidestep any attempt to set standards or impose fair taxes on their massive profits.

Time and again, with very rare exceptions, they have managed to dodge regulation and taxation by playing one country off against another and repeatedly hiding behind the now very tired looking excuse that they are merely 'platforms'.

"Not me, guv" has been their response when bidden to take responsibility for the often very damaging content they publish – yes, publish – and for which they garner zillions in advertising revenue.

Meanwhile across the world publications which try to ensure their content is accurate and honest are brought ever closer to collapse as they lose out to the bandits.

Truly international action has to be co-ordinated so that the mess can be cleared up.

Right to reply – or disagree

AN ARTICLE in the previous issue of ArtWork (No 215 Winter 2020/21) by Mary Gladstone tackled the topic of free speech. The article highlighted how diffi cult it is to breeze through the complexities involved here without causing offence to at least one section of society. I applaud Mary Gladstone for taking on this task but, to quote Voltaire, "I disapprove of what you say, Mary" (Voltaire didn't say Mary, I just added that on).

Why do I disapprove? As a supporter of Scottish independence, I feel her constant digs at nationalists are unnecessary and diminish the integrity of the discussion. Like most nationalists, I am not part of a mob, I do not troll and I don't care at all about what JK Rowling thinks.

Mary has every right to express her views as I have done many times within the pages of ArtWork, a publication which has, over the years, striven to endorse bold opinions. However, I respectfully disagree.



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