Some people complain that all the activism, campaigning, trying to change the world for the better never has any affect. In the last year I can think of 4 major victories, all in campaigns I’ve had a small involvement in.
Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill – I posted about this boring sounding but deadly Bill at the beginning of last year. We had to set up a whole Save Parliament campaign to try and stop it. The Bill was still passed, but was much less dangerous partly because the Government rewrote it under public pressure.
Statute law database – At the end of 2005 I posted about the School without rules, explaining how the laws of our land are not freely available. This was fixed at Christmas by a new Government website. It’s not clear what affect our external agitation had on the decision not to commercialise the data itself, but I suspect it was some. Congratulations to the then Department for Constitutional Affairs for doing the right thing.
Reed Elsevier and the arms trade – At the start of 2006 I wrote up in two posts my trip to the London Book fair, where they tried to kick me out of a Freedom of Expression seminar. Last week, Reed Elsevier’s board were finally forced to abandon running arms fairs. This Guardian article explains how the campaign was won. I’m a bit miffed to be honest, as my T-shirt now doesn’t tell the truth any more!
Freedom of Information Amendment Bill – This recent Bill attempted to exempt Parliament and MPs from Freedom of Information law. We sent out a Public Whip newsletter which explains more. The Bill was passed by the Commons. But luckily our unelected Lords have more sense, and news just in is that the Bill has been abandoned because they can’t even find one Lord to support it. WriteToThem was used by the public to send over a thousand faxes to Lords telling them that they did not support the Bill. In my day job, we had to set up a second fax server to meet the demand.
So there you go, four victories. Never let anybody tell you it isn’t worth campaigning.
Oh, and of course I’m lazy, so I cherry pick campaigns. Those were all won because they were achievable and reasonable. Easy ground to fight on. I admire those who spend years on much harder campaigns. But even they have major victories.