Mudcat Café message #851601 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #54636   Message #851601
Posted By: DMcG
21-Dec-02 - 03:54 AM
Thread Name: Sign a E Petition to 10 Downing St PELs
Subject: RE: Sign a E Petition to 10 Downing St PELs
Bit of a jackpot today in the Guardian! There were three long letters from Eliza Carthy, Mike Harding and Hamish respectively and Hamish also managed to get the address of the online petition into his article.


Licensed to kill music

Saturday December 21, 2002
The Guardian

A lot of people enjoy both visiting folk clubs and watching Morris dancing and they would rather the government didn't punish them for doing so (Letters, December 17). However unfashionable Chris McColl might deem said activities and how far above them he might consider himself and his fabulous taste to be, the proposed music licensing bill is nothing but a pathetic attempt to squeeze money out of local landlords, church activities and amateur musicians. It will kill what is left of our struggling traditions and regulate and charge for every last thing we do when we step outside of our houses.
It will discourage all small live music events and sink independent businesses. It will remove public stages for young and upcoming artists of all music genres and encourage the opening of corporate "meat market" TV pubs. It will stifle community events and charge a good deal of them out of existence; it will ensure that churches will sit empty for most of the year.

With the little energy it took Mr McColl to write his cheap joke, he could have discovered just how dangerous and insensitive the proposed legislation is, and what a devastating effect it could have on our modern culture, as well as our ancient.
Eliza Carthy
Heriot, Borders

England is the only country I can think of that has virtually no respect for its own national culture. Here in Ireland, traditional music and dance in pubs is common and people are fiercely proud of their traditions. In the US, the Smithsonian has a massive archive of traditional music and pretty much every country in Europe has a government-sponsored centre keeping alive its traditional music.

Close to a million listeners tune in to my Radio 2 programme each Wednesday, 60,000 people go to the Sidmouth festival and hundreds of thousands go to Cambridge and the many other folk festivals about the country.

If this bill goes through, then music-making in our pubs will pretty much disappear, except for the juke box and kareoke machine: folk, Christmas carols, mummers plays, Morris dancing - all of them will become subject to control and licensing.

Kim Howells, the minister concerned, promised me on my programme that people making music in traditional sessions and folk clubs would not be penalised. It now looks as though I was hoodwinked. Why is this government so concerned with controlling every aspect of our lives? Why is a Labour government trying to kill the music of the people?

If this bill had been current 30 years ago, David Bowie, Elvis Costello, Rod Stewart, Mark Knopfler, Donovan, Ewan McColl, Bob Dylan, Gerry Rafferty, Billy Connolly, Paul Simon, Joni Mitchell and the writers Willy Russell and Brian Jacques might all have had different careers, since all of them at some time served their dues in England's folk clubs.

This bill is an infringement of our rights as human beings to make music for the sheer joy of it - the very thing that fuelled so much of the early left in this country - and New Labour should hang its head in shame.
Mike Harding
Connemara, Ireland

Last week Andrew McIntosh, a government whip in the Lords, confirmed that carol singing in public places will remain a criminal offence unless licensed: maximum penalty, a 20,000 fine and six months in prison. It is already a criminal offence to encourage community-style singing in over 100,000 licensed premises in England and Wales. But the bill requires the licensing of any public performance of live music and defines "premises" as "any place" (clause 188). That means your front room, garden, any street, park, field etc.

The Musicians' Union is campaigning vigorously to prevent the government making this country the laughing stock of Europe (see also the online petition,
Hamish Birchall
Consultant on licensing to the Musician's Union