You Decide. [25May2017]


(Location: Woolwich Free Ferry, London.  Picture by Steve Conway)


My Facebook Manifesto. [06May2017]

These days I use Facebook far, far less often than I used to.

This is due to the actions, in aggregate, of the majority of other parties on there, whose policies concerning Facebook use and abuse I disagree with, and believe to be counter of the broad public interest.

It’s time to take a personal stand, and launch my own manifesto.

If elected to be your “friend” on Facebook, I promise that a Steve Conway government will adhere to the following:
ONE:  I will never enroll you in groups without having sought your explicit permission beforehand.  This applies to all catorories of groups – including the below, listed along with the frequency with which they are usually encountered:

  • annoying groups, (10%)
  • offensive / racist / hate groups (5%)
  • Groups just set up to self-promote (12%)
  • Groups Which Have No Relevence Whatsoever to the Unwilling Enrolee (72%)
  • Groups you actually might be interested in (1%)

TWO: I will not send you Calendar invitations to “events” unless they are actual physical events to which you as a physical human being are invited.  I will also not send calendar invites for events which are on the other side of the world, and which you have no realistic prospect of attending, unless you are my sister/cousin/best friend and I am willing to coordinate the event with your travel plans.
THREE: I will never tag you in posts which do not actually directly involve you, and even for those my use of tagging will be moderate.
FOUR I will never, under any circumstances, try to guilt-trip you into sharing/re-posting anything I post by implying that 93% of people won’t repost the content, but that genuine people who care about abused kittens / tragic world events / purple toasters will.

FIVE: Under most circumstances, and unless directly attributed, my thoughts will be my own.
SIX: I will not hijack your popular post to add comments promoting my own commercial interests.  (Such as, for example, join in a “Happy Birthday xxx thread to plonk an advert for diet pills into the comments).
SEVEN:  I will not tell you that Facebook is about to start charging subscription from next Tuesday, that Buddy Holly has just died, or that next month is the only one in 888 years to have five Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays, firstly because I fact check against reputable news organisations anything dramatically newsworthy, but mainly because I am not an idiot.
EIGHT: Notwithstanding all of the above, I do acknowledge that I will probably make an idiot of myself at some point, but I will try very hard not to make an idiot of you, or a nuisance of myself.


Author’s Note:  This is an original list written ad-hoc by myself Steve Conway on Saturday 6th May 2017, at Starbucks, Nutgrove Shopping Centre, Dublin, Ireland.  

Should, by any remote chance, this list strike a chord, it will doubtless be re-posted by lots of people all claiming to have written it for themselves.   As Fleetwood Mac put it so eloquently in the 1960s:  “Oh Well”.

Steve Conway


Pushing The Boundaries – The 1987 election and the great (off) land-grab

The current (2017) UK General Election campaign is very much of it’s time – Brexit, Corbin, May,  but is also reminiscent in some ways of one 30 years ago, which I always consider as *MY* election, given that I covered it hour by hour in my role as Head of News on Radio Caroline, then broadcasting to an audience of around 3.5 million people from a long established anchorage in International Waters, just outside the 12 mile territorial limit off the Essex coast.


(Picture: view from Radio Caroline ship Ross Revenge at the Knock Deep anchorage, picture by author)

Like this years election, it was called early by a female Tory Prime Minister seeking a third term for the Conservatives and banking on doing well against a Labour leader strong on conviction, popular with the grass roots but possibly less so with the voters.

As with this years election, parliament was dissolved in May for an election date in early June (June 8th this time round, June 11th in 1987).  As is normal in such circumstances, a number of susbstantial and some minor pieces of legislation were rushed through parliament on both occasions, to allow them to come into law before the election, as otherwise they would have to start from scratch again following the election. This “wash-up” is done with agreement between government and opposition, and means that fairly complex pieces of legislation can come into effect with far less debate and scrutiny than usual.

As I was listening to the final pre-election “Today in Parliament” podcast from the BBC the other night, and hearing the reading of royal assent for a whole batch of bills  – Digital Ecomomy Bill, Bus Services Bill, Higher Education bill etc – it reminded me on a piece of legislation which slipped through almost unnoticed in the 1987 washup, greatly expanding the size of the United Kingdom and profoundly impacting one small group of people – the little community of broadcasters on board the Radio Caroline ship.

The Territorial Sea Act of 1987 changed the way that the “12 Mile Limit” was calculated, taking any sandbank or rock within the limit and uncovered at low tide as dry land, and thus the base for a further 12 miles extension.  So a sandbank 11 miles from the coast uncovered at Spring Tide could have the effect of converting the 12 miles limit into 23 miles, and if within that extended limit there was another sandbank . . further still.  The way that the coast was calculated on bays and large estuaries was also simplified with similar effect.

The end result was a land-grab ~(or “sea-grab) bringing thousands of square miles of formerly international waters under British jurisdiction including the patch of sea where Radio Caroline was located,  the “Knock Deep” also known as “Pirate Alley” as protected from the worst seas by nearby sandbanks it had been a favoured location for pirate ships over the years, with at least three (Mi Amigo, Ross Revenge and Communicator) having used it at different times.

The new act extended the limit to cover this area, and due to the sandbanks occasionally surfacing at the lowest of tides, for a further 12 miles beyond it.  Radio Caroline would have to move to more open waters, further out to sea, and with less shelter.

After much discussion, a new anchorage was eventually decided on, this time off the Kent coast, and approx 18 miles from the nearest point of land (North Foreland), and a mile and a half from the new territorial limit at this point of the coastline.

But 1987 was very unlike 2017 in terms of technology and information flow. There was no internet, no ability to search Hansard (the record of UK parliament) and as the bill was not particularly newsworthy in more general terms, no reporting of when its provisions might come into law.  As parliament dissolved with the Territorial Sea Act now passed into law, we had no idea when it would be enacted, and had to arrange for a tug from The Netherlands to come as soon as possible to assist us in raising anchor and moving to our new location (Caroline’s 1000 foot extra strong anchor chain being too heavy for the ship to lift under its own power).

Not knowing the enactment date, and whether we might already be within the UK jurisdiction, we had a nail-biting wait as day after day passed with no word from land as to when we would be moved. We figured we would be safe until after the Election Day in any case, and were mightily relieved when the tug showed up on June 10th, one day before.

The Territorial Sea Bill, passed in a hurry before the 1987 election pushed Caroline out into deeper, rougher waters, and ultimately a date with the Goodwin Sands some years later.  This was surely a beneficial byproduct of the legislation, if not one of the prime drivers of it.

It’s remarkable though, that a bill so greatly extending the physical size of the United Kingdom could pass so unremarked by media in the run up to a General Election.

It makes you wonder what slipped through this time round doesn’t it?

Steve