culture, football

England Women

It’s extremely heartening to hear that the England women’s football team has done so well and are now through to the final of the European Championships, the first time they have got this far since the Championship started in 1984.  Congratulations and all the very best for the final on Thursday, to be played in the Olympic Stadium in Helsinki. 

On a personal note, I’m pleased to see women’s football doing well, which is, I think, beginning to put it on the map, albeit still only on the periphery.  Hopefully a win on Thursday will raise the status on women’s foorball in England and encourage more girls and young women to take up the sport.



Me addressing the first meeting of the S&D group in my new role as coordinator.

The elections for political group co-ordinators on the European Parliament Committees is continuing.  Today it was my turn.  This afternoon I had the great pleasure and privilege of being elected as the Coordinator for the S&D (Socialists and Democrats) Group for the Culture and Education Committee.  The S&D group met before the main committee meeting where I was formally elected, following which I gave a short speech of thanks before we moved on to discuss possible events the Group could run, as well as our involvement in the committee. 

I’m very much looking forward to engaging on issues including education, sport and the arts in Europe.  As I have said before, the Co-ordinator’s position is an important one.  In the case of the S&D Group it is close to the House Minority Leader in the United States.

The Culture and Education Committee has a full programme for the next few months.  Amongst other things, there will be legislation on volunteering across the EU, a legislative Opinion on sexual abuse and child pornography, a report on setting up a European digital library for important government documents and an Opinion on internet governance.  Members of the Committee are also planning to discuss culture and education issues in some detail with the Swedish Presidency.

In terms of S&D Group activity on the Culture and Education Committee, I am pleased to report that there will be a delegation to London to discuss the Olympics and visit the site.  We are also intending to hold a seminar in Brussels on the European initiatives concerning further and higher education – the Copenhagen and Bologna Processes. 

Discussing the various issues the culture committee will be dealing with this parliament.

Discussing the various issues the culture committee will be dealing with this parliament.



culture, Equal Treatment, equality, Labour Party, Media

I came across this story in the “Sun” today (not, I hasten to add, a rag I generally read)

Despite this, Susan Boyle has had a top week

This story is so sick it takes your breath away.  Los Angeles based film company “Kick Ass Films” are offering life-long celibate Susan Boyle $1 million to lose her virginity on screen  The boss of “Kick Ass” Mark Kulkis is on record as saying, “…after 47 years of virginity I’m sure Susan is also anxious to get something cracking as soon as possible.”

I, along with very many others, am pleased for Susan and wish her all the very best.  I think that’s enough said.  Her private life is her own.


culture, education, Labour Party

As a history graduate (a long time ago, I should add), I am in complete agreement with Ed Balls about teaching history in schools.  Speaking at the Association of Teachers and Lecturers Conference, Ed made it clear that history would remain part of the primary school curriculum.  What is more, he firmly knocked on the head the daft idea which seems to have gained undue credence that there is some sort of choice between either history or technology.  Obviously children can, and should, learn both.

As Labour European Spokesperson on Education and Culture I take an interest in education issues in the UK.  History has received a mixed bag of attention over the last few years.  History can, of course, be used as propaganda.  This is, of course, always unacceptable.  Historians across the board will seek veracity and accuracy since our past  informs our future.  It is therefore important that children learn about history, and I believe the chronological approach outlined by Ed Balls is the right one.

People also love history.  The success of historical programmes on television and of the books by David Starkey, Simon Sharma and others just goes to prove that people will also read about history.  That, I think, speaks for itself.


broadcasting, culture, London, Trade Unions

London is one of the most dynamic cities in the world for the media, film, television and broadcasting sectors. As a London MEP I have regular meetings with employees in the creative industries. On Monday I’ll be meeting with representatives of the culture trade unions.

You can read my latest briefing on culture issues in the European Parliament by clicking on the link below:


Creative Industry, culture, Equal Rights, London

The European Parliament has just finished debating a report the creative industries. I spoke in the Chamber, highlighting the important role of our creative and cultural industries, particularly the increasing part they play in our economy.

As a member representing London, the creative hub of the UK and indeed Europe, I am acutely aware of the benefits that such industries bring to a locality. London is diverse in culture and thriving in its creativity and as cultural and creative industries represent a significant sector in London’s economy, I welcome recommendations to support their sustainability and growth.

That said I find it of great concern, that whilst women represent a huge number of employees within the industry, their absence in high ranking positions is stark.

As the report rightly pointed out, cultural industries are an important vehicle through which European values are communicated. Equality between men and women is one of the most important..

The origins of our flourishing cultural and creative industries lie in the diversity of individual talents and skills. Member States must investigate and address the barriers that prevent our most creative women from entering the boardroom.


culture, Digital Technology, mobile phones, Trade Unions

18th Feb 2008

Last week I had my regular three to four monthly meeting with the trade unions representing people in the culture industries – BECTU, the NUJ, the Musicians’ Union, the Writers’ guild and those in the film industry. These meetings are helpful for me as I can judge things on the Culture Committee better for having had the unions’ input. I also like to think they find talking to me helpful.

At this last meeting, in addition to the perennial Working Time Directive, we discussed the allocation for the spare radio spectrum released by the move to digital technology – the digital dividend. There is a real danger that this spectrum, which is in the hands of Member States and will therefore be disposed of by the UK, will be sold to the highest bidder with little regard for the best use of this resource.

The highest bidder in this case will more than likely be the mobile phone operators. Since the spectrum is being released by broadcasters, there is a strong moral argument that the broadcasters should keep a large chunk of it. If broadcasting is to remain at a reasonable standard, adequate spectrum facility is important. Plus, do we want ever more fancy and extensive mobile phone communication, the end result of which may be lack of privacy and ultimately an end to any idea of free time?