UK MPs and the Use of Twitter

Microblogging, Constituency Service and Impression Mangaement: UK MPs and the Use of Twitter.

Nigel Jackson and Darren Lilleker

17 Journal of Legislative Studies 86 (March 2011)

Abstract:

Twitter, a microblogging site which allows users to deliver statements, thoughts and links in 140 characters to followers as well as a wider Internet audience, is the latest online communications technology adopted by MPs. Assessing the use of early adopters, this article considers which MPs are most likely to use Twitter (e.g. tweeting), and how. Content analysis of tweeting MPs was conducted, and identified personal and political characteristics which may influence use. The data suggested that of the six characteristics tested, gender, party and seniority had most impact on adoption. Applying Jones and Pittman’s (1982) typology there is clear evidence that MPs use Twitter as a tool of impression management. Constituency service is a secondary function of the use of Twitter by MPs. Where MPs use Twitter as part of their constituency role it is to promote their local activity. We note that a small group of MPs use Twitter as a regular communication channel, but most are only occasionally dipping their toe into the microbloggersphere.

2 Television Documentaries on the UK Supreme Court

Britain’s Supreme Court

http://www.channel4.com/programmes/britains-supreme-court/episode-guide/series-1/episode-1

Description from the Channel 4 /More4 Web site:

This gripping, feature-length documentary charts the first year in the life of Britain’s new Supreme Court – the highest court in the land. With unprecedented access the film meets the judges, lawyers and ordinary people whose cases will have a far-reaching effect on the everyday lives of others across the UK.

For those bringing these high-profile cases to court there is a lot at stake, and the programme reveals their hopes and fears as they and their legal teams come face-to-face with the most powerful judges in the UK.

The judges have allowed proceedings to be filmed and, uniquely, justice is seen unfolding as judges and lawyers – the finest legal minds in the country – debate key contemporary issues. See David and Goliath battles of individuals challenging the state, the outcomes of which help to define the nature of society today.

 

The Highest Court in the Land: Justice Makers (clips only)

BBC

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00xz0s5

Description from the BBC  Web site:

They are the UK’s most powerful arbiters of justice and now, for the first time, four of the Justices of the Supreme Court talk frankly and openly about the nature of justice and how they make their decisions. The film offers a revealing glimpse of the human characters behind the judgments and explores why the Supreme Court and its members are fundamental to our democracy.

The 11 men and one woman who make up the UK Supreme Court have the last say on the most controversial and difficult cases in the land. What they decide binds every citizen. But are their rulings always fair, do their feelings ever get in the way of their judgments and are they always right?

In the first 14 months of the court they have ruled on MPs’ expenses, which led to David Chaytor’s prosecution, changed the status of pre-nuptial agreements and battled with the government over control orders and the Human Rights Act.

They explain what happens when they cannot agree and there is a divided judgment, and how they avoid letting their personal feelings effect their interpretation of the law. And they face up to the difficult issue of diversity; there is only one woman on the court, and she is the only Justice who went to a non-fee-paying school.

 

Other BBC shows on justice and legal issue sare available at:

Justice a Citizen’s Guide

http://www.bbc.co.uk/tv/seasons/justiceseason/

 

 

 

 

UK Judicial Views on Human Rights and Judicial Accountability

The UK Human Rights Blog wrote about two recent speeches by British senior judges, the President of the UK Supreme Court and Master of the Rolls, reflecting on judicial review and the role of the Human Rights Act.  Egypt’s new rulers and opposition leaders may wish to consult these documents as they create new mechanisms for Egyptian courts to check executive and legislative power and protect human rights.

Judicial Independence & Accountability: A View from the Supreme Court

Lord Phillips, President of the UK Supreme Court

8 Feb. 2011

http://www.supremecourt.gov.uk/docs/speech_110208.pdf

 

Protecting Human Rights in an Age of Insecurity

Lord Neuberger of Abbotsbury, Master of the Rolls

7 Feb. 2011

http://www.judiciary.gov.uk/Resources/JCO/Documents/Speeches/mr-speech-cla-07022011.pdf

Description of the speeches from the blog posting

http://ukhumanrightsblog.com/2011/02/09/justice-in-the-age-of-insecurity/#more-6838

Two of the UK’s top judges have given fascinating speeches this week on justice in the age of insecurity. One by the head of the supreme court warns that budget cuts will imperil the independence of the judiciary. The other by the head of the court of appeal, argues that despite not being able to tell the government what to do, UK courts can provide effective protection of fundamental rights.

The speeches offer fascinating and sometimes controversial perspectives on our odd but in many ways admirable constitutional system, as well as warnings that strained budgets and political meddling could do it damage.

Hat tip to Adam Wagner of UK Human Rights Blog.

 

 

 

 

 

Article: The Common Law and the Constitution as Protectors of Rights in Australia

Interesting article comparing fundamental rights, judicial review, and  parliamentary supremacy in Australia, the United States, Canada, New Zealand, and Britain.

The Common Law and the Constitution as Protectors of Rights in Australia

Anthony Gray (University of Southern Queensland)

39 Common Law World Review 119 (2010)

Available online via LexisNexis.

Bibliography on British and Irish Legal History

Bibliography on British and Irish Legal History

complied by Jacqueline Woolham

40 Cambrian Law Review 107 (2009)

“This bibliography is confined to items of more than a few pages in length relating to British and Irish legal history which hav ebeen published in the last few years.”

Article: Enabling Free On-line Access to UK Law Reports: The Copyright Problem

Enabling Free On-line Access to UK Law Reports: The Copyright Problem

Philip Leith and Cynthia Fellows

18 International Journal of Law & Information Technology   72 (Spring 2010)

Abstract

The history of publishing legal decisions (law reporting) in the UK has been that of a privatised system since its inception, and that history has encompassed several hundred years. The privatised nature of this has meant that the product (the law report) has been, except in limited cases, viewed as the property of the publisher, rather than the property of the court or public. BAILII is an open access legal database that came about in part because of the copyrighted, privatised nature of this legal information.

In this paper, we will outline the problem of access to pre-2000 judgments in the UK and consider whether there are legal or other remedies which might enable BAILII to both develop a richer historic database and also to work in harmony, rather than in competition, with legal publishers. We argue that public access to case law is an essential requirement in a democratic common law system, and that BAILII should be seen as a potential step towards a National Law Library.

Report on New Legal Service Market in the UK

Byfield Consultancy has released a report, based on interviews with practitioners, on the future of  law firm regulation in the UK.  The report discusses legal and busniess changes that impact firms in Britain. 

The Big Bang Report: Opportunities and Threats in the New Legal Services Market. November 2009

Jon Robbins

http://www.byfieldconsultancy.com/docs/Big_Bang_Report.pdf

Excerpt from the Executive Summary:

Chapter 3: Revolution in Legal Services

Alternative business structures, the most revolutionary aspect of the Legal Services Act 2007, will allow lawyers to form multidisciplinary practices offering legal services together with non-legal services. They will also allow non-lawyers, including external investors as well as the likes of Tesco, AA, banks and insurers to have a stake in firms.

Times (London) also has an article on the report:

http://business.timesonline.co.uk/tol/business/law/article6921906.ece?&EMC-Bltn=WAN381F

Global Carbon Trading: a Framework for Reducing Emissions

The UK’s Department of Energy and Climate Chnage has released a report on global cap and trade: “Global Carbon Trading: a Framework for Reducing Emissions.”

http://www.decc.gov.uk/Media/viewfile.ashx?FilePath=What we do\Global climate change and energy\Tackling Climate Change\Emissions Trading\Lazarowicz report\1_20090720094330_e_@@_GlobalCarbonTradingaframeworkforreducingemissions.pdf&filetype=4

Table of Contents

INTRODUCTION

THE CURRENT FRAMEWORK

LONG-TERM FRAMEWORK FOR CARBON TRADING

NATIONAL TARGETS IN DEVELOPED COUNTRIES

EMISSIONS TRADING

DEVELOPING COUNTRIES – A PHASED APPROACH

GOVERNANCE AND INSTITUTIONS

CAPACITY BUILDING

CONCLUSIONS

ANNEX A: SECTOR SUMMARIES:

Power Industry Forestry Agriculture Surface transport International shipping International aviation Buildings Waste

ANNEX B: EMISSION TRAJECTORIES IN THE TRANSITION PERIOD

ANNEX C: CAP AND TRADE IN PRACTICE – THE ACID RAIN PROGRAMME

ANNEX D: GLOBAL CARBON FINANCE MODEL

ANNEX E: CURRENT AND PROPOSED EMISSIONS TRADING SYSTEMS

Report on the legal and constitutional powers of the Privy Council

Justice, a UK human rights NGO, has published a report on the legal and constitutional powers of the UK’s Privy Council.

The Constitutional Role of the Privy Council and the Prerogative

Patrick O’Connor QC, Doughty Street Chambers

http://www.justice.org.uk/inthenews/index.html

Excerpts from the Report and Summary Conclusions

Tracing its origin back to the twelfth or thirteen century, its continued existence, if considered at

all, is regarded as vaguely charming and largely formal. But, as the vehicle that dispossessed

those living on or near Diego Garcia, the Privy Council can still display the power that once it

had more widely as an instrument of feudal rule.

 

This paper examines the history, development and current role of the Privy Council. It will try to

throw light upon its procedures and practices and ask what role can be played in a modern

21st century constitution by such a body. Constitutional reform is in the air. Can a new spirit of

transparency and democratic accountability penetrate even as far as the Privy Council? Is the

Privy Council robust enough to safeguard the real public interest in a national emergency? On

the other hand, is it a weak point, a tempting resource for evading democracy in a crisis? Is such

a body necessary at all? What role should the ‘prerogative powers’ play? Are they controlled, or

even controllable?

The Privy Council matters. It provides an avenue by which the executive can evade the scrutiny of

Parliament and create immediately effective laws. It perpetuates fictions which conceal the reality of the

exercises of power. It is at the heart of our outdated culture of deference.

 

The Privy Council is a dysfunctional body. There is no rationale which can justify the eclectic range of

its work. It currently ranges from being in part ‘synonymous with government’, to an independent court: from

a forum for the monarch’s real remaining personal prerogative powers, to a theatre for benign historic

ceremonial. This has all arisen by historical accident, and has never been analysed rationally. The repeated

reference to an ‘advisory’ role, and the absence of any acknowledgement that the PC is a vehicle for the

direct exercise of constitutional powers is less than transparent. This is the most important of the many

fictions surrounding the PC, cloaked in a fog of outdated language

History of censorship in the English theatre

The Times of London has an interesting article on censorship of the performance of plays in England, including historical discussions. 

A disgusting feast of filth?  by Anthony Burton. The Times. September18, 2008.

http://business.timesonline.co.uk/tol/business/law/article4775754.ece?&EMC-Bltn=B9QEK9

Excerpts from the article:

It was the Licensing Act of 1737 that gave the Lord Chamberlain the role of arbiter of theatrical taste. The role, held until 1968, was introduced by the Prime Minister Robert Walpole to gag his theatrical critics, in particular Henry Fielding, by banning any offensive reference to a living person. So from the 18th century every British playwright had to obtain a licence for the public performance of a play … By September 1968 the Theatres Act was in force and the censor banished.