In agreeing to enfranchise UK prisoners, we forget that voting is more than a right   Leave a comment

This artcle was written in Feb 2011 for Open Democracy

A decision by the European Court of Human Rights on giving prisoners the vote in the UK is causing controversy. Following a case taken to the ECHR in 2004 by a prisoner, John Hirst, the government is being advised to enfranchise prisoners in time for the May elections or face substantial compensation payouts. Hirst had won his case by arguing that not being allowed to vote while in prison was a breach of his human rights.

The rest of this article can be found here: http://www.opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/suzy-dean/in-agreeing-to-enfranchise-uk-prisoners-we-forget-that-voting-is-more-than-righ

Posted February 4, 2011 by suzydean in Constitutional Reform

Ignoring the social benefits of drinking   Leave a comment

This article was first published with the Independent and then re-printed in Counterpunch, in October 2010

“Awareness raising” has become a common objective for health campaigns concerned about the dangers of alcohol. The gruesome Drinkaware television adverts and the NHS-sponsored posters are a case in point. They deface the back of every pub toilet door with a clear anti-drinking message. According to them, drinking alcohol leads to unprotected sex, violence and vomit (for the teenagers) and heart disease, liver failure and missed workdays (for the grown-ups).

There is a problem with this.

You can read the rest of this article here: http://blogs.independent.co.uk/2010/10/01/4819/

 

Posted February 4, 2011 by suzydean in Alcohol

Let’s end this legislation by trial and error   Leave a comment

This article was first published with the Free Society in June 2010

The growing regulation of every day activity has lead to the imprisonment of many individuals for petty crimes. Illiberal policy making is not without its consequences; there has been a growth in the UK’s prison population. Between 1995 and 2009, the prison population in England and Wales grew by 32,500 or 66 per cent.

Last week, Lord Woolfe, ex-chief justice, took issue with overcrowding in prisons. Woolfe argued in The Times that, “in such a severe economic crisis it is folly to have policies that make the prison population substantially higher than is necessary.” What was striking about this assault was that overcrowding informed Woolfe’s decision to challenge illiberal policies, rather than anything to do with the importance of safeguarding individual and social freedoms.

The rest of this article can be found here: http://www.thefreesociety.org/Columnists/Suzy-Dean/lets-end-this-legislation-by-trial-and-error

Posted February 4, 2011 by suzydean in Freedom

Why ‘no platform’ is incompatible with freedom of speech   Leave a comment

This article was first written for the Free Society in April 2010

So far freedom has failed to become a hot issue in the general election despite numerous curtailments to individual and collective liberties over the past five years from anti-terror laws to the ban on smoking in pubs. In fact, the election itself is appearing to damage another one of our most fundamental freedoms, our freedom of speech. As the election draws closer and debate heats up, both Conservative and Labour candidates have started to refuse to debate the BNP. This is something that we should all challenge as it demeans us – the public – and our democratic election process.

The rest of this article can be found here: http://www.thefreesociety.org/Columnists/Suzy-Dean/why-no-platform-is-incompatible-with-freedom-of-speech

Posted February 4, 2011 by suzydean in Freedom

The Bully State: another view   Leave a comment

This book review was first published with the Free Society in March 2010

Few would dispute that government regulation has come to seep into almost every corner of our once-private lives. Brian Monteith’s The Bully State: The End of Tolerance (published by The Free Society) is rich with examples of how our homes, cars and pubs have become the target for government regulation.

While his development of the concept of denormalisation is useful and identifies ‘whats new’ about regulation today, his analysis of the how and why lifestyle regulation has come to be so widespread leaves more to be desired, as does his recommended antedote to over-zealous regulation.

The rest of this review can be found here: http://www.thefreesociety.org/Columnists/Suzy-Dean/the-bully-state-another-view

Posted February 4, 2011 by suzydean in Freedom

Free speech and the court of public opinion: let the people decide   Leave a comment

This article was first published in Feb 2010 for the Free Society

The shocking thing about the John Terry case is not that Terry cheated on his wife with another player’s then-girlfriend. It is not even that his lover allegedly aborted their child. What is shocking is that Terry was able to gag the press using a ‘super-injunction’ from reporting on his story. How did it come to be that a very rich individual, some lawyers and a High Court judge acquired the power to rule on what the press can publish and by extension what the public can read? This is a dangerous trend which undermines free speech and adult rationality, the basis of our democracy.

The rest of this article can be found here: http://www.thefreesociety.org/Issues/Free-Speech/free-speech-and-the-court-of-public-opinion-let-the-people-decide

Posted February 4, 2011 by suzydean in Freedom

A book to set democratic alarm bells ringing   Leave a comment

This book review was first published in October 2009 for the Spiked Review of Books

Martin Bell’s account of the expenses scandal has insights, but his willingness to embrace infringements upon parliamentary sovereignty in the name of restoring trust denigrates democracy.
British news headlines have been dominated for months by the MPs’ expenses scandal at Westminster. A large number of politicians, including the prime minister and the leader of the opposition, have been accused of over-claiming expenses for such trivialities as cleaning and gardening. In a few cases, the behaviour of politicians has been borderline fraudulent. The whole affair has brought parliament into disrepute.

The rest of this review can be read here: http://www.spiked-online.com/index.php/site/reviewofbooks_printable/7647/

Posted February 4, 2011 by suzydean in Constitutional Reform