Finding The Cure for YouTube's Ill's

Your weekly update from Tom Watson MP, deputy leader of the Labour Party. 

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The highlight of my week was attending the Meltdown festival at London's Southbank, curated this year by singer-songwriter and all-round God of gloom and gorgeous sounds Robert Smith.

Naturally enough The Cure closed the festival with an epic two-hour set and, as an adoring fan since my teens, I was only too happy to spend the night in the mosh pit before emerging with my hands on the set list!

The final crowd-pleasing encore was Boys Don't Cry - a song which I have since discovered has had an incredible 46 million views on YouTube.

Now if you think that Smith had made a fortune from all those views you'd be sadly wrong. Instead he, along with musicians all over the world, get completely fleeced by platforms like Google-owned YouTube.

I make this point because on Wednesday I travelled to the EU Parliament with UK Music CEO Michael Dugher to support proposed changes to EU copyright law which would mean internet giants paying for a licence to broadcast content.

Google is ferociously defending its position with the bogus claim that such a move would curb internet freedoms. But I am pleased to say the UK music sector, which employs tens of thousands of artists, musicians, producers, sound engineers and technicians, speaks with one voice.

We delivered a clarion call for creators to get paid properly. Next week MEPs will vote on the new directive, which could be a game-changer not just in the UK and across the rest of Europe, but around the world.

It is absolutely vital the politicians act now, standing up to the giants of the internet, to reward creative talent and ensure the UK's world-beating music industry - which contributes a staggering £4.5 billion to our economy - remains a global leader.


Targeting junk


I was depressed this week by new research into fast food outlets which shows that junk meals are deliberately targeted at the poorest in our society. In fact, there are five times as many fast food cafes and restaurants in some poorer areas than in affluent towns.

One in three children are now overweight or obese by the age of 11. Tellingly, those from poorer backgrounds are twice as likely to be overweight as those from more affluent areas.

As a society, we need to stop judging and sneering at families lured in by cheap, tasty but unhealthy options. We need government action, responsibility from the giant food conglomerates and action from local planners.

The high tide of junk food in our poorest regions must be halted for the sake of our children.


Signing with Archie


And talking of junk in fast food outlets, eight-year-old Archie Ford has come up with a brilliant petition. He wants McDonalds to stop giving away plastic toys in plastic wrappers with children's Happy Meals promotions. Archie makes the excellent point that most get left behind in the restaurants anyway - and asks, why can't we have paper comics instead of plastic toys? Brilliant. You can sign Archie's petition here


Delivering goals

 



On the eve of National School Sports Week I visited two new all-weather pitches delivered by the Football Foundation - with grants from the Premier League and FA Facilities Fund - at the George Salter Academy in West Bromwich.

Principal Adrian Price explained that these state-of-the-art facilities won't just benefit pupils of the Academy but also their partners clubs and 14 new teams from the community - with a particular emphasis on girls' football.

The Football Foundation has delivered 15,000 grants in a £1.4 billion spend on grassroots sports like this since 2000. These facilities open up access to sport, develop physical wellbeing, create social hubs for local communities, and - of course - can help us produce the Harry Kane, Jesse Lingard and Lucy Bronze's of tomorrow.

And I think all England fans will want to send a big cheer for that!


Gold star for Mr Cox

 

Essex Headteacher Simon Cox's plan for children to take "enrichment week" family breaks in term-time - thus avoiding sky-high holiday prices - went down a storm in my Facebook poll.

More than 7,000 votes were cast with a huge 95 per cent giving full marks for Mr Cox's holiday scheme which involves pupils compiling a learning booklet from their trip.

I think it's an inspired idea and one that other headteachers, governors and education policy-makers should consider or, at least, watch with keen interest.


Faulty tours

 

Hotel booking sites can be a great tool for sorting holidays. But they are also a maze of discount offers, high-pressure "only one room left" sales pitches and bizarre rankings - all of which can undermine the credibility of our tourist industry.

I strongly welcome the firm rebuke handed down by the competitions watchdog this week over misleading claims by the sites.

The CMA hasn't named the offenders at this stage but has warned the giant booking agents if they don't clean up their act they will be shamed in the courts.

That's a good message. But the sites shouldn't just fear the court of law, they should fear the traveller too. The court of public opinion can make or break them in the end.


In Orwell's footsteps


Carole Cadwalladr is a brilliant and brave investigative reporter, her journalism both fierce and without favour.

It seems entirely fitting that as she received the prestigious Orwell Prize for Journalism this week, the Electoral Commission was warning that our democracy is under threat.

It is largely in part to Carole's work for The Observer that we know of that threat. And for that, we owe an immense thank you. Congratulations, Carole.

 


Pod plug


Changing Politics is a new left-of-centre political podcast from Irish comedian Grainne Maguire and political commentator Marie Le Conte. You can listen and subscribe wherever you get your podcasts from. Check out the first episode here