Comments
May 23, 2013
Incidental:

Incidental:

Comments
May 14, 2013

We are delighted to present the photographs of Jason Gray, to our minds one of the most vibrant and engaging photographers working in Hull today.  Jason’s visual style is stunning and his attention to detail quite remarkable.

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Jason sent us this to accompany his images:

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I am proud to say I’m a resident of the much maligned area of Kingston Upon Hull that is designated the postcode prefix of HU3, notorious for high crime rates, low educational achievement, poor housing, anti social behaviour & the highest rates of drug related death in the city. I love it, I think it has acquired a somewhat distorted reputation.

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These pictures & many more like them are my small attempt at getting people to look at the area differently. I take pictures of buildings & sites that I think are important to the heritage of the area & the city, all of which are being neglected, forgotten or knocked down & destined to be lost forever. From time to time I’ll stumble across something nature has created that I feel needs adding to my collection. Beauty & horror are everywhere, often present together in the same moment.

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If you want to see more like this, there are many more displayed for your viewing pleasure on instagram, look up jasonpgray. Thank you for looking.

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Thanks to Jason for his wonderful contribution to HullRePublic.

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If you would like to contribute get in touch.  Share.  Make the change.

Comments
April 23, 2013
Thieves of the Stock Exchange:

Thieves of the Stock Exchange:

Comments
April 17, 2013

Guest Blog: What a Ding Dong.

Ding Dong, The Witch is Dead… the memorable track from The Wizard of Oz, delivered with gusto by the Munchkins when a house falls on the Wicked Witch. Who would have thought that a 51 second track from a cherished family film would cause such a stir?
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When Margaret Thatcher died on April 8th, it didn’t take long for the collective might of Social Media to latch onto the death. There was a clear divide - reviled and revered - from many social commentators. The general public were equally divided, yet that wasn’t enough. How could we, the public, encapsulate our feelings towards the deceased former leader?
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Ding Dong, The Witch is Dead. - Oh, how droll! How satirical! It’s not! Genuinely, it’s not.
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There are far better tracks that could have been used as a sign of political satire. For some reason, I can only imagine idiocy, the collective minds of Social Media cottoned on to this track as an example of their, quite frankly, fatuous attempt at satire and political expression.
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Why not Thatcherites by Billy Bragg? Thatcher made Bragg a socialite! What better way to demonstrate one’s social belief than by supporting one of the best political songwriters of our generation? How about Margaret on the Guillotine by Morrissey? He’s a man that wasn’t afraid to state his case on society. The answer is pretty obvious, they’re not ‘fun’, they’ve got a political message and from an era when sentiment was running at a high. With Morrissey and Bragg, it involves listening to, and understanding, the lyrics and their political views.
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Ding Dong, The Witch is Dead has the same political imperative as the old childhood refrain “Here’s Maggie Thatcher, throw her up and catch her!” It’s childish, it has nothing to do with the feeling that Thatcher evoked and it’s the type of thing bought by people who weren’t around when Thatcher was in power. It belittles her legacy and reduces the memory of strikes, protests, economic strife and political turmoil to a twee act of impotence.
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Her legacy is clear, the strength of her conviction gutted the economy and her presence on the world stage was the last time that the United Kingdom was a true superpower. From school milk to Poll Tax, from the Falklands to the Second Cold War, from the destruction of our coal industry to the privatisation of businesses; she was a figure that caused as much respect as she did hatred. To reduce her political significance and life to a 51 second piece of contextless tripe is vapid and highlights the lack of political understanding. Trivialise it by purchasing the track, but millions of us were affected by what Thatcher did and we should view this act of ‘free speech’ with the contempt it deserves.
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If you genuinely want to challenge the tenets of Thatcherism, vote in the upcoming local elections. Deliver a blow to the Conservative party and show them the sense of resentment that this country still feels towards a party that, despite wanting to distance itself from the past, continues to embrace Thatcher’s ideals, just with different words.
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If you want to express your right to ‘freedom of speech’, use your voice in a more effective way. Get involved in politics, be it single-cause groups such as 38 Degrees, or the Socialist Workers Party, but don’t think that buying this song is some form of political involvement.
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Buying the track would make Thatcher smile. If ever there was a way to support Thatcher’s capitalist ideals, it’s this!
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Thanks for reading.
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Dave Adamson for HullRePublic.
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If you would like to contribute to HullRePublic please get in touch. Share. Make the Change.
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HullRePublic@gmail.com
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@HullRePublic

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April 16, 2013

‘Making Work Pay’ and Other Untruths.

There is much talk of ‘making work pay’ at the moment with politicians of all three major political parties trying to out do the other in demonstrating their commitment to the ‘hard working people’ of the United Kingdom.  This is to be applauded (if it were backed by policies that matched these laudable aims); the truth is that employment in the UK is in a critical state with many of the protections we have (until this point) taken for granted being abolished or diluted; with precarious employment and under-employment becoming the norm for many.  This blog will take the issues in turn - from unionisation to the National Minimum Wage (NMW), through changes to terms and conditions, below inflation pay settlements and the monetisation of health care.

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Firstly, the NMW offers income protection to those in low paid work and according to the Low Pay Commission has ‘little or no significant adverse impact’ on job creation at this level.  The Coalition, however have announced they will look at freezing or reducing it should it ‘cost jobs’ and have recently raised it at a rate lower rate than inflation meaning a real terms cut.  The motivation here is political rather than economic and comes as a further assault on the living standards of those in low paid, often low skilled work (we discuss work further here); we are reminded of this quote from American comedian Chris Rock about employers views of the NMW.  The case for the introduction of a ‘living wage’ is well made and the economic driver behind it to increase demand from the socio-economic group most likely to spend additional money in their lives is a clear one.  The introduction of such a measure would also reduce the number of those needing to rely on tax credits and other ‘in-work’ benefits (that subsidise employers paying ‘poverty wages’ and substantially reduce State expenditure in this area.

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Instead, the Coalition has reduced these ‘in-work’ benefits with no alternative in place (and little evidence to suggest the changes will decrease dependency) whilst Ministers are demanding that low paid workers undertake additional hours to make up the shortfall – this is predicated on the notion that each employer has more hours to offer and that the low paid have capacity in their lives to undertake it, for many low paid workers they are also students, parents, volunteers and carers.  Low-paid workers will also suffer marginal tax rates 50% higher than millionaires due to changes brought forward by Cameron and Clegg’s budget.

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The ‘shares for rights’ initiative goes further (an idea promoted by George Osborne at the Conservative party conference) the main thrust of which being that employees would sacrifice many of their employment rights under UK law on unfair dismissal, redundancy and the right to request flexible working and time off for training in return for tax-free shares.  This move has been roundly criticised and further reduces the importance given to in work protection and mirrors the culture of ‘quick-wins’ in the City at the expense of long-term stability and progress.

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Another area of the framework within which we work is Health and Safety legislation; the Coalition are committed to reducing protection in this area as part of their ‘war on red-tape’.  Unions and others have worked long and hard in securing these protections for staff from a range of industries and reducing them will come at no significant cost in increased claims for compensation, to lower the working conditions of many and will make work less safe, more dangerous and fundamentally less attractive.  Coupled with this has been the long-term diminution of unionisation and in-work protection with many employers now seeking to ban unions from the work place leaving workers open to exploitation and predation in the form of ‘zero hour contracts’ (the most precarious form of employment with workers not knowing from one day to the next whether they have work) and the new rules in relation to unfair dismissal (the recent changes in this area significantly reduce the avenues a worker has as a means of redress if treated unfairly by their employer in the first two years of employment).

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The long-term effects of NHS privatisation are yet to be felt but there are many examples of services that used to be free at the point of use now come with a tariff; as this develops into the future the monetisation of the most basic health services will further impact on families’ ability to make ends meet.  There are also many stories of newly privatised health services forcing changes to terms and conditions for nurses and other workers, reducing holiday entitlement, changing pay structures and redundancy payments.  In the public sector a long-term pay freeze and below inflation pay settlements means that most face at least a 10% pay cut in real terms over the course of this parliament (the Coalition’s failed economic plan has prolonged austerity into 2018 meaning a further reduction in living standards). 

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In mitigation the Coalition would cite their raising of the personal tax threshold though according to the research the positive impact of this will be more than cancelled out by the rise in VAT , the reduction of in-work benefits and changes to council tax and/or housing benefit payments alongside the ill thought out and potentially disastrous ‘bedroom tax’.

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Living costs are spiralling out of control and rather than tackling the profits made by energy or train companies with positive action the Government does nothing and, more worryingly there is still no discussion as to how the Coalition will tackle historically low pay.  When faced with ever increasing bills for utilities and essentials the average working family is becoming worse off by the week whilst pay for those at the top continues to rise exponentially.  When taken as a whole Coalition employment policy is an assault on work; rather than ‘making work pay’ these measures actively erode our standard of living and the value of work for millions of hard working people.

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Thanks for reading – HullRePublic.

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If you would like to contribute to HullRePublic please get in touch.  Share.  Make the Change.

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HullRePublic@gmail.com

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April 06, 2013

Guest Blog: Making Amess Of It.

Hull as the city of culture 2017?  It’s a possibility and one that the whole city should get behind.  Regular contributor to HullRePublic Dave Adamson explores the issues here:

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David Amess, Tory MP for Southend West, isn’t a stranger to controversy.  Whether he’s discussing the fictional drug Cake before tabling a question in Parliament whilst unaware that the TV series Brass Eye was a spoof, convincing security at airports that his bags were packed by Osama Bin Laden before vomiting and complaining, or claiming £8,500 for hotel bills despite owning property in London, he’s certainly a man who seems trapped in his own world of delusion.

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So, should it really have come as a surprise when he declared Southend-on-Sea as the only possible winner of the City of Culture bid in 2017?  Of course not.  He’s an MP for the area, he’s passionate about the city and he wants to get his support out in the open and, more importantly, in the press.

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So, what went wrong?

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“I have looked at some of the competition and frankly they are absolute dumps some of them” and some of the cities “wouldn’t know culture if it was put in front of them.”

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That’s what went wrong!

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To paraphrase a quote from the BBC Three series Being Human ‘you shouldn’t win because everyone else is more rubbish’.  Yet, that’s exactly what Amess seems to be suggesting.  Whilst other politicians might say that “the other cities are strong competition” or “we want to show our potential to the rest of the UK,” Amess seemed to think that this was some form of race to the bottom.  For Amess to suggest this, and to hold other cities in such contempt, is smug, unqualified arrogance.  He lacks the nuanced understanding of the cities that wish to present themselves as Cities of Culture; the opportunities such a title can offer and the prestige that it would give the winning city.  His narrow-minded attitude is typical of a party that has, over the term of this coalition, sought to distance itself from the voting public; a public that is not just middle class!

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The truth is that there’s a lot to do in Hull to improve its “cultural” standing.  Changes like this cannot open overnight - Platform Expos are driving forward with the Digital Estuary idea for the city (though I prefer to call it Digit-Hull); Mark Page and others are working tirelessly to increase the presence of local music; The Warren has been nurturing young talent for years and continues to do so, and there are bound to be dozens of projects that help the culture of the city that we haven’t heard about!

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“Culture” lacks definition in the same way that “art” does - Banksy.

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At the end of the day Banksy is a graffiti artist, yet his work is applauded by the art world.  Rap music is seen, by many, as misogynistic and criminal, yet many people see it as modern poetry.  To think that “culture” is defined in a narrow, traditionalist understanding is crass.

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Hull’s “cultural heritage” spans the decades and, like many cities, is open to all comers.  We have a vibrant local music scene, we draw some impressive acts and shows to our theatres and our museums and art galleries continue to draw visitors thanks to exhibitions of the works of Leonardo, Andy Warhol and David Hockney.  The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra has played in our city, as has Ed Sheeran, Bon Jovi, Elton John and The Rolling Stones, whilst Florence and the Machine headlined the Freedom Festival.  We have been shaped by our history - we have celebrated the abolition of slavery, been instrumental in the Civil War and the victim of air raids during the Second World War.

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Our heritage, our culture, isn’t defined in one easy statement.  It can’t be dismissed, it shouldn’t be belittled and it must never be undermined by the witless buffoonery of politicians like David Amess.

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Dave Adamson for HullRePublic.

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Thanks to Dave for his interesting contribution.  What do you think about Hull becoming the ‘City of Culture’? Get in touch. Share. Make the Change.

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If you’d like to contribute to HullRePublic please email HullRePublic@gmail .com

Comments
April 06, 2013

Global Wealth Inequality.  The Richest 300 people in the world have more money than the poorest 3,000,000,000.

Comments
April 03, 2013

Guest Blog: The Stigma of Being a JSA Claimant.

In light of much of the recent anti-claimant rhetoric we are delighted to republish Deborah Stevenson’s blog on the realities of claiming Job Seekers Allowance and the stigma she has faced.
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The Stigma of Being a JSA Claimant.
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Now, I understand that it is infuriating if you’re a hard working person and you feel most of your money goes on tax, I am pretty sure that when I start earning a wage, I will have a jolly old grumble at it. I think it’s my dads favorite hobbie sometimes! Ha. Although when did it become acceptable to just assume that EVERYONE is a lazy claimer. This is the unfortunate stigma of looking for work, people assume you are exactly the same as someone who writes their shopping list on their paperwork and isn’t taking the job search seriously enough. I’ve been so stressed about finding work, I’ve been in a state some days because it seems like I can’t catch a break.
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We’re in a shitty economy, in Hull there is an average of 88 people chasing every job - it’s tough, really tough.
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I understand the annoyance at some people who are given the money and don’t make any concerted effort to look for work - we can all tut at them can’t we? My point is, I am actively seeking work, I am doing what I can to look for work, and yet I am still placed within the stigma of people who claim Job Seekers Allowance but don’t really do anything. I understand the system is flawed but I am actually doing something to find work, and I can’t wait to be doing something full time because I am going stair shit crazy from not.
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I apply for at least 5 jobs per week, I look everyday, I’ve always got new windows open with opportunities on it. I applied to be a Christmas elf for Christ sake! Most posts I can’t apply for because I don’t have the experience, that’s something I can’t help. But, I am not going to apply for it, knowing I will be rejected (again) just so that people will get off my back. If I don’t have what they want, I don’t have it. Simple.
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I don’t think people who’ve never visited the Job Centre understand that actually, it’s pretty dire and embarrassing. I waited as long as I could before I put in my claim - I was told “no Debs, put your claim in as soon as you leave university…” and yet I waited, I still had some money left from my student loans, so I thought, in the early stages of my job search, I can just live from that. But as it usually does, it doesn’t last forever. So, when I made my claim, it was only because I just couldn’t without it. But like most people, I want to be off job seekers allowance as soon as possible.
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This post was sparked by hearing moaning about it on the radio, it’s damn ignorant to stereotype every unemployed person as being lazy and not wanting to find work.
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So, to everyone who is out of work, good luck, it is hard but you just have to keep looking and taking opportunities where they are given.
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Deborah Stevenson -@DebStevo90 for @HullRePublic.
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We’d like to thank Deborah for her kind permission to republish her work. If you’d like to comment please take the time to do so by clicking on the post’s header and scrolling to the bottom.
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If you’d like to contribute to @HullRePublic get in touch, share, make the change.
HullRePublic@gmail.com - @HullRePublic.

Comments
March 30, 2013
Ian Duncan Smith:

Ian Duncan Smith:

Comments
March 11, 2013
Excellent explanatory #bedroomtax infographic from Shelter:

Excellent explanatory #bedroomtax infographic from Shelter:

Comments
March 03, 2013
Incidental #002.

Incidental #002.

Comments
March 01, 2013
Incidental #001:

Incidental #001:

Comments
February 23, 2013
On Keynes.

On Keynes.

Comments
February 20, 2013

Guest Post: The Snobbery of ‘Horse Meat’

When the ‘horse meat’ scandal broke there was outrage… then there were jokes: “For years, we’ve been saying “I could eat a horse,” then we do and we complain!” Then, there were the snobbish, boorish remarks: “If you buy processed food, what do you expect?”
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It was this that rattled me. The idea that it was acceptable for food to be something else if it was processed and, by extension, relatively inexpensive. We accept that “mechanically recovered” means “the bits of that can’t be cut off by humans,” and that “reformed” means “mushed up and reshaped,” yet we should also somehow accept that “beef” could mean “horse” simply because it’s cheap?
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It isn’t dangerous to consume horse meat, but that really isn’t the crux of the matter.
The issue here was, obviously, horse sold as beef and not the fact that horse is a perfectly edible piece of meat in other countries. We live in a society where it should be, and must be, standard practice that when we buy something it is what we expect!. To suggest that you should only expect to know what’s in it if you cook it is churlish, to say the least.
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Sure, buying meat from butchers and cooking from scratch isn’t too difficult, but for many people the variety of dishes available from a supermarket processed food aisle is greater than their cooking knowledge. This wide range means that if taken to work or eaten as a family there’s a varied menu of options available - it’s not just pasta bake or beef lasagna.
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The convenience of processed foods means that busy parents can prepare food for their families with little effort. Take it out of the fridge or freezer, pierce the lid, stick it in the microwave or oven and serve, allowing the harassed parent to focus on other things that need doing in their household. More importantly, it’s economically priced - being able to feed a family of four for under a fiver is an attractive prospect and this type of food typically doesn’t leave them hungry an hour later. Less money spent on food means more money spent on other family essentials - fuel and clothes for example.
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Considering that, the most recent recent data estimates 30% of children (approx. 17,124) in Hull live in poverty in 2012, is it any surprise that many families choose cheaper foods from economy or basic ranges, often processed and high in all the things that many of us are encouraged to avoid? Eat enough to sate hunger, or eat healthily and be hungry? I know which path I would follow. This same research shows that the UK has one of the worst child poverty rates in the industrialised world. It’s not that the usual scapegoats are to blame either: 59% of the UK’s poor children live in a house where one parent works, yet many families are living hand-to-mouth and borrowing money in order to buy food.
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There are, of course, those out there that buck the trend and those who exploit the system but the world isn’t divided into neatly defined groups - those that work and those that won’t, those with money and those without, it’s far more complicated that that. Processed convenience meals don’t just appeal the busy families, but to many workers who want something a bit more nutritious than a cheese sandwich.
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The problem with the horse meat scandal should have been obvious: regardless of how much you pay, regardless of the product itself, consumers should be confident that the meat in the product is the meat listed on the ingredients.
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No matter where you are in society’s structure, you should be confident that the food you are buying is what you think it is. The information should be there, it should be accurate and manufactures, processors, regulators and governments must be held accountable.
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As we look back on the horse meat scandal, with MPs declaring this is just ‘the tip of the iceberg’ there are more questions to ask: how long has this been going on? Why wasn’t it discovered sooner? Who is responsible for the content of the food in our shops? None of these questions are ‘what did you expect?’ and nor should they be.
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Thanks for reading.
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Dave Adamson for HullRePublic.
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We’d like to thank Dave for his interesting and insightful contribution.
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If you would like to contribute to HullRePublic please get in touch. Share. Make the change.
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HullRePublic@gmail.com @HullRePublic

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February 16, 2013

Guest Post: On Trolling.

Regular readers will know that we invite guest bloggers to contribute to HullRePublic; we are really happy to present the following blog from, Deborah B Matthews LLM (Hons), ACILEX - Lawyer and Postgraduate, Hull Fabians Secretary, local Twitterati and general writer of interesting stuff.. We follow Debbie (not stalk) and are always interested in what she has to say..


Trolling and internet stalking have received much attention lately and Debbie offers a personal perspective on the issue, as ever we welcome comments so please take the time to read this post and join the debate.

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Over to Debbie..

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Trolling and stalking continue to be a predominant problem in our contemporary society.    I had the misfortune of having to pursue a legal course of action recently to deal with a person who not only stalked me but also used technology to troll my friend and a close family member.  However, trolling differs from stalking in that it predominantly remains within the confines of technology by way of emails and social networking sites etc. 


The troll wishes to cause severe offence and embarrassment unlike the stalker who feels they have been scorned by an object of their affections. Stalking can invoke criminal law by virtue of the Protection from Harassment Act 1997; the Offences Against the Person Act 1861; the Sexual Offences Act 2003; and the Malicious Communications Act 1988 (the latter can be invoked if technology is used).

Trolling appears to be an all too frequent occurrence as we become a more connected and globalised community.  By virtue of the internet, we are able to communicate within much wider circles and dip into societies that we would never have had access before and some use this to harrass.  Trolling invokes the criminal law by the fact there are usually instances of threatening and aggressive behaviour such as threats of physical violence and racist slurs. 



It is more than merely baiting or trying to get a reaction; the troll is wanting to emotionally shock the victim when they send them something truly vile to read or look at. Usually reported, these cases are of a high profile nature but the average internet user can be subjected to such behaviour as indeed I have. There are no physical boundaries with the internet, eg Twitter and this is one of the main problems with trolling. 


When Nicola Brookes won her landmark case against Facebook who were forced to give up the details of her trolls it signalled a very new way of dealing with trolls.  This was a way forward in this area; the rapid expansion of the internet and the Human Rights Act have had an impact on the law of Defamation which has developed in a piecemeal fashion for the past century.

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Lord Lester’s Private Member’s Defamation Bill which is in the Lords at the moment is an attempt to reform this area of law.  The impetus is to balance the right of freedom of expression with the right to protect ones reputation but there seems little clarity about whether the internet and its behaviours are truly understood at this stage; it is hoped that this Bill will make into law the concept that where such an offence has occurred, an Internet Service Provider may be spared a lawsuit for inadvertently displaying such malicious communication if they can help identify the troll.

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When the inventor of the World Wide Web, Sir Tim Berners-Lee said “The important thing about the internet is that it should be for anything and for anyone” he obviously thought it would bring like-minded people together to share ideas and to educate the world.  It would transpire that it has indeed brought like-minded people together and that has been part of the problem.

Thanks for reading.

Debbie Matthews (@debbiematthews1)

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To comment on this post please click on the header and scroll to the bottom of the post where you can add your voice to the debate.

If you would like to contribute to HullRePublic please do not hesitate to get in touch.  Share.  Make the change.

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HullRePublic@gmail.com

@HullRePublic

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