Jonathan Fryer

Writer, Lecturer, Broadcaster and Liberal Democrat Politician

Posts Tagged ‘Queen Mary University of London’

What Writers Really Earn

Posted by jonathanfryer on Saturday, 19th July, 2014

ALCS brochureThe wealth generated by the UK’s creative industries is on the up; according to the government’s Department for Cuoluture, Media and Sport they are now worth £71.4 billion a year. Yet writers are seeing their incomes falling, to the extent that far fewer are able to make a living from their output. For some that has meant living at below the poverty line, or depending on a partner or other family members for support. For others, the only survival mechanism has been to have some other job as well as writing. According to figures released this summer by the Authors’ Liensing and Collecting Society (ALCS), in 2005 40% of authors earned their income solely from writing, but by 2013 this had dropped to only 11.5%. “If unchecked, this rapid decline in the number of full’time writers could have serious implications for the breadth and quality of content that drives the economic success  of our creative industries in the UK,” the ALCS warns in a pamhlet launched recently at the House of Commons. Research carried out for ALCS by Queen Mary University, London,  discovered that the typical income of writers has dropped by 29% in real terms since 2005, that median income now being about £11,000 per annum. It’s worth remembering that according to the Joseph Rowntree Foundation single people in the UK need to earn at least £16,850 before tax to achieve a Minimum Income Standard. The one bright spot in an otherwise depressing picture is that digital use earnings are rising, but one of the reasons I stood (successfully) for the ALCS Board in January was because the digitalisation of content has given rise to new challenges to ensuring that authors do get some appropriate payment for their work. As the ALCS pamphlet says, “For writers to continue making their irreplaceable contribution to the UK economy, they need to receive fair remunertion for their work. This means ensuring clear, fair contracts with equitable terms and a copyright regime that supports creators and their ability to earn a living from their creations.”


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Reviewing the Lisbon Treaty

Posted by jonathanfryer on Wednesday, 16th March, 2011

The London branch of the European Movement decamped to my home district of Mile End last night, for a seminar on the Lisbon Treaty 16 Months On. Valsamis Mitsilegas, Professor of European Criminal Law at Queen Mary University of London (which hosted the event) emphasized how the Treaty stresses core European values, notably a respect for fundamental rights, the rule of law, and democracy, but much of his presentation was about the specific area of Justice and Home Affairs (JHA). Since Lisbon, JHA has been subject to more qualified majority voting and co-decision (in which the European Parliament has a say in decision-making, not just the Council of Ministers) than was the case in the past. He cited three areas in which there could be said to have been a particular transfer of sovereignty from the national to a European level, namely economic migration and the status of third country nationals; substantive criminal law, including the definition of criminal acts; and judicial cooperation, building on earlier experience of the European Arrest Warrant.

The other speaker at the seminiar was Richard Corbett, a former Labour Member of the European Parliament who now works for the President of the European Council, Herman van Rompuy. He argued that the main objective of the Lisbon Treaty was to make the workings of the European Union and its institutions more effective and more democratic. As part of the improved efficiency, the role of the Council President had been enhanced in three main ways: (1) the term of office of the person concerned was extended from six months (non-renewable) to two-and-a-half years (with the possibility of one renewal); (2) the incumbent now does the job full-time, rather than in addition to what was often a heavy national, ministerial responsiblity; (3) there is a proper secretariat in Brussels to assist him.

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First of the Euro-hustings

Posted by jonathanfryer on Thursday, 12th March, 2009

Last night I took part in what looks as if it will be a whole series of European election hustings meetings across London, in this instance hosted by the Politics Society of Queen Mary, University of London, just down the road from where I live. The Labour candidate had unfortunately to drop out because of illness, which meant that I was the one and only positive voice on the panel. The Conservative candidate, Warwick Lightfoot (a personable councillor from Kensington and Chelsea, who threw his hat unsuccessfully into the ring to be the Tories’ London mayoral candidate last year) and his UKIP counterpart vied with each other in their Euro-scepticism. I’d been wondering just how negative the Conservative European campaign was going to be and if Warwick’s contribution was anything to go by, the answer is: very!

Yesterday also saw William Hague, the Conservative Party’s shadow Foreign Secretary, in Brussels preparing the ground for the Tories’ exit from the European People’s Party (EPP), underlining their isolation from the European mainstream. Not that long ago, the Liberal Democrats welcomed into their ranks the former Chairman of the London Conservatives, Dirk Hazell, who was disgusted at the anti-European turn the Tories had taken. He followed in the footsteps of former Tory MEPs John Stevens and Bill Newton-Dunn (the latter safely re-elected to the European Parlaiment, but as a Liberal Democrat). It woud be surprising if there are not others to come.

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Do Gay Men Have a Poor Sense of Direction?

Posted by jonathanfryer on Tuesday, 17th June, 2008

Scientific research rarely makes me laugh out loud, but the findings from work done by Ivanca Savic and Per Linstrom of the Stockholm Brain Institute in Sweden (published yesterday in the American journal, ‘Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences’) have led to the conclusion that heterosexual women and gay men have symmeticral brains, whereas heterosexual men and lesbians have asymmetrical ones. I have long beeen persuaded by the argument that sexual orientation is largely a matter of nature rather than nurture, i.e. determined by biology (including neurology) rather than psychology, let alone being a matter of ‘choice’. But this new research gives signifcant added weight to the theory previously propounded by Qazi Rahman at Queen Mary, University of London, just up the road from where I live, that differential brain structures make heterosexual women and gay men worse a having a sense of direction than their heterosexual male or lesbian counterparts. The first time I heard that argument, as Nancy Mitford would say, I shrieked, but now it seems at last that not only can husbands and wives find valid reasons for ‘her indoors’ being crap at map-reading, but it gives a whole new dimension to the old Lily Savage jibes about ‘dizzy queens’.


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