Robert Tyler contends that live broadcasting of proceedings from the Court of Appeal should be only the start of a much wider trend
This week saw the first live broadcast from within the ‘Court of Appeal’.
About bloody time. At every election, we get politicians talking about the ‘transparency of government’ and ‘making government more open’. You know, their buzz-words claiming we have an open society, whilst keeping we common people blissfully ignorant.
Yes I will admit that we do get to watch Parliament and the devolved governments as well as the European Parliament. However why should we stop with Parliaments and the Court of Appeals? Why not go for all councils, committees and courts?
When I was visiting family in the States this year, we stayed at a hotel in town, and on the TV listings, at the top, was a long list of channels dedicated to broadcasting Government. There was everything from Town Council right up to C-Span, that broadcasts Congress, and everything in between. And why not? The right for people to be able to go in and watch any Court Case they want goes back as far as The Glorious Revolution. The same goes for watching Parliament in session. Some councils even allow the public in to come and watch. So what’s to lose from broadcasting them as well?
Now, I’m not saying that we set up TV channels that are paid for by the taxpayer. No, I believe we should offer private news outlets or the like the opportunity to set up web cameras inside courts, council chambers and committees across the country, and let them broadcast them online. It would then be up to the broadcasters if they wanted to let people view it free, or put up a paywall.
Take, for example, C-Span. It’s a private company that broadcasts the US Congress live as a public service, whilst not receiving any money from the government to do so. Perhaps it’s time we did the same, but on a wider scale.
Posting the coverage online would also give the public a much-needed glance at what the people they elect actually do. I’m sure the people of Bradford would love to see George Galloway in his element. Or the people of Rotherham council discussing who should be able to adopt or not. Or even the foreign affairs committee discussing how best to spend foreign aid.
Yes a little bit of what Douglas Carswell has dubbed iDemocracy can go a long way. Besides, even if we don’t watch and listen to our leaders, the NSA will.