Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The Orwell Prize

A few weeks ago it was suggested that I enter this site into the Orwell Prize for Political Blogging. 
One of the things I had to do in relation to that was submit 10 posts for consideration. I've done that and thought I'd share what I thought were the most interesting pieces we have produced so far. 

Tommy Sheridan begins his own defence

Katrine Trolle, Tommy Sheridan's Cross-Examination

Anvar Khan's Cross-Examination by Paul McBride

George McNeilage Cross-Examination

Matthew McColl Cross-Examination

Andrew Coulson Part 1 

Thomas Montgomery

Tommy Sheridan's Summation, the forensics issue

The Verdict

Social Media and the Sheridan Trial

I realise that the list concentrates on cross-examinations, however these do tend to produce the most dramatic moments in court. There are however still a few days before we have to submit our final entry so if anyone has any disagreements with the choices, or suggestions for other posts to be entered please leave a comment or email us at the usual address.


Whatsy said...

You always love your own children most - my favourites were Pamela Tucker and Nicholas McKerrell.

James Doleman said...

That's a thought, want to pick one?

Peter said...

I think you should include a few if my posts James - that should nail down the win for you .... but not so good with predictions lately. I wondered when the MI5 dog would bark - wasn't expecting it to be George. Good luck although Julian may well just pip you to it this year. Cheers Peter.

Peter said...

Its got to be Dr Nicky swearing on the Bible of the Church of the Poisoned Mind, Anvar Khan, Big Georges Community Mince Project and for the importance what is yet to come the Bob Bird, Wight and Coulson and the police testimony on oath about Mulcaire.

Anonymous said...

Good luck James, you deserve the accolade.

Whatsy said...

Probably go for Dr Nick - highly entertaining, while showing the depth of antipathy in a fairly brief cross-exam.

Whatsy said...

Any chance of combining the Crown and Sheridan summations into two separate entries?

It must be quite unique to have such a detailed account of the entire closing speeches of prosecution and defence. And it took bloody ages to write!

Whatsy said...

"Good luck although Julian may well just pip you to it this year"

Is that you anticipating the verdict again, Peter? Tut tut.

I'm of the opinion that everyone is a winner (until proved otherwise).

Anonymous said...

"I'm of the opinion that everyone is a winner (until proved otherwise)."

Ah!, but proof can be a deceptive concept Whatsy, ask Shirley McKie.

Anonymous said...

James, will you be allowed to see an advance copy of Lord Bracadale's sentencing statement or do only big wigs like Bernard Ponsonby get to see that kind of stuff?

James Doleman said...

Hello anon, I'm not aware that anyone will get to see that in advance. BTW may I add that Mr Ponsonby was one of the journos who was very helpful to me at the trial and helped keep me right on the contempt of court rules so big thanks to the man.

All the best


Anonymous said...

Word on the street is that Lord Bracadale's Sentencing Statement is expected to be quite a long one - so maybe a sharp pencil would be a good idea if you don't get a sneaky peek beforehand. It could go on for 20 minutes... half and hour and then there is TS's speech/plea in mitigation.

Anonymous said...

Anyway, the Sentencing Statement will be released soon after it is read out - so make sure to grab your copy.

Peter said...

Yes as I say Whatsy I am not good on predictions but I do think that James would win easily in any other year - just unlucky that Wikileaks chose 2010 to release there stuff.

Peter said...

Having said that as this blog is directly connected to the UK and Wikileaks is more obtuse as to its location the Orwell rules would tend to be in favour of the Sheridan Trial.

Although as Julian Assange has been resident in the UK for the last couple of months, and looks likely to be here for some time yet, he may still be in the hunt.

If I was a judge (perish the thought) I would give Wikileaks (or Assange) the Orwell Special Prize or the Orwell journalism prize and this blog the Orwell Blog prize.

Am getting my bet on now to get the good odds.

Jamesie Cotter Esq. Govan Photobooth Cleaning Co-operative said...

After the Poll Tax Riots, I was invited to Belgium to give a talk to a socialist conference in an old monastry. The prevailing ideology there being closer to East Berlin than Pollok. On the last day of a stunningly tedious weekend where the only alcoholic refreshment seemed to be 'Solidarity' shots of Cuban rum, various party luminaries were invited onto a dais in the courtyard for our appreciation. One of them was introduced as Erich Hoenecker's daughter. A spokeman ushered her onto the stage with some appreciative words about her father. I raised my camera to take a picture of this touching show of solidarity with the former East German regime.
A female hand appeared over my lens. 'No photographs', said a woman bedecked with cameras.
'But you're taking pictures', I spluttered.
'I am the PARTY photographer', she replied.
From this I learnt that all photographers are equal, but some photographers are more equal than others.
Obviously I have a problem in terms of Orwellian Awards since:
I do not have a photo of the happy occasion and there is no Award for Orwellian photography anyway.

Critical-eye said...

To all those who have posted on this blog condemming the police and the BBC for the release of the Sheridan police interviews - I should be grateful to hear their opinions on the leaks by Wikileaks.

Anonymous said...

Much as this blog has been brilliantly done and is an excellent record of events, it isn't really a piece of political writing, but some court reportage.

I'd think it an unlikely winner of the Orwell prize in that it offers neither analysis nor revelation.

Peter said...

Anon 11.00am

Re: Orwell Verdict

Anon not for the first time on this blog you are wholly incorrect.

Much like many of your other hundreds of other posts you have made Anon (I am surprised you can find all the time) about this trial (many of which are puzzlingly conradictory) you miss the point.


-This blog is a true first and that originality is grounds for an award.

-Its originators stood up to various threats of legal action from various characters in the (now disgraced) SSP leadership and other anonymous sources.

I salute the resilience of these bloggers in the face of those threats. That will be a factor for consideration by the judges - hopefully just by the Orwell judges that is :)

-The sheer extent of the work involved is a consideration. Long days in court was combined with and followed by lengthy moderation of the various posts in the comments. Engagement in the open forum with posters on matters of interest took place late into the night. That dedication by the team will be justly recognised also. I salute their indefatigability.

-The analysis that you claim is absent is often contained in the comments made by James, Whatsy in the comments section. If you care to look it is there. The comments are an integral part of the blog and blogging - their direct engagement with the commetariat again late into the night was a welcome feature.

-The court reports were also delivered in a rather stylishly droll fashion within the strict criteria of court reporting - if you read carefully and between the lines it is there.

-There was more direct humour by the originators in the comments debate and they allowed humorous exchage within the comment forum by us users.

-They maintained a civilised decorum in the comments forum allowing very hard hitting comment but drawing the line at crude language.

-Apart from when they allowed criticism of my poor grammar they maintained a balanced, civilised and fair exchange in the comments section in my view.

- They educated us in the intricacies of Scottish law and practice and court tactics. They no doubt were educated in turn by the contributions in the comments forum. At the least we all learnt the definition of "credulous" if we did not know it before.

-They made numerous mistakes along the way of course. Not allowing the majority of my posts for example was a flaw. The main flaw was not insisting posters chose a user name as opposed to just using Anon.

But none of us, as Joe E Brown would say, is perfect.

So the verdict I say should very much be in their favour - beyond reasonable doubt in my view.



PS. I do have a Pay Pal account so you can send me that tenner now James but maybe best do that after the verdict so I can deny it if asked.

Gunboat Diplomat said...

James has done tremendous work over the course of this blog, he has provided a clear, impartial account of the trial far superior to anything I've read in the mainstream media. A journalism award would be well deserved imo.

However I don't think the Orwell prize is the appropriate award as its meant to further the ambition to "make political writing into an art" and I don't see this blog as furthering that ambition.

Not that I think James is not capable of this, its simply because of the nature of the subject matter and the legal restrictions on what he can write due to contempt of court rules.
James' opinion and anlysis is conspicuously absent from most of the blog as is creative use of language. Sorry.

Anonymous Brian said...


From the Orwell Prize homepage:

"Every year, we award prizes for the work – the book, the journalism and (since 2009) the blog – which comes closest to George Orwell’s ambition ‘to make political writing into an art’."

Much as this has been an excellent court report, it doesn't meet that criterion. The writing is pretty prosaic, with lapses of grammar. It's doesn't, I'd argue, demonstrate the writer's art. A past Scottish winner is Ian Bell, for example, and he is a writer, first and foremost.

That's not to say it is not a decent piece of journalism, which is a different thing, entirely.

Anonymous Brian

Peter said...

Jeez Gunboat Diplomat you cannot please some people can you.

Orwell needs sexing up so maybe James could give it stab.

The Load In Wigan's Rear?

Anonymous Brian said...

Oh, Peter, you want the world to be the way you see it, even when it clearly ain't.

Anyway, a better bet for James to enter is this:


There is a new media journalist category and this blog would fit. Still a week until the closing date, too.

No editing before submitting, Jamesy boy. They must be as they appeared, so watch for the "had went-isms" in some posts.

Would think you'd make the shortlist for this one, anyway.

Anonymous Brian

Steve said...

I tohught the one with the one of the Cardonald sisters and AP asking 'who else is a member of Cardonald SSP?' was good if you want to up the humour quotient.

But you have a lot to choose from.

James Doleman said...

Hello Brian, thanks for that link, costs 12 quid to enter that though, so have to think about it


all the best


Anonymous Brian said...

six quid each from you and whatsy. two pints, each.

seriously, you have a better chance of shortlisting and getting profile for the blog.

Plot Tracer said...

Nothing of the cross examinations of the Brother in Law's cross examination? Oh yes... you didnt cover it. Don't you think the Orwell prize should go to Sheridan as the posts you are submitting are mostly his cross examinations?

Sheridan Trial said...

"Nothing of the cross examinations of the Brother in Law's cross examination?"

Sorry you lost me there anon, could you clarify?

All the best


Anonymous said...

I think the reervations about whether this blog is appropriate for the Orwell prize are probably valid.

On the other hand rules are for the guidance of wise men and the obedience of fools so go for it, and good luck.

You've ploughed a new furrow with this blog so maybe the judges will recognise that and not interpret the rules too closely.

Anonymous Brian said...

Lest I be thought of as a naysayer with only negativity to share, let me re-iterate that it is surely a good candidate for the scottish press awards.

Anonymous Brian

Plot Tracer said...

I meant, of course, the bias you showed in reporting the bro in Law. A fuller account here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-glasgow-west-12008516

James Doleman said...

Hello Plot Tracer, so now you have went from "we did not report it" to, "your report it biased"

Funnily enough I did not write that report (as you can see from the name on the bottom) I'm sure Whatsy can deal with any question of bias.

All the best


Whatsy said...

@Plot Tracer
I'm always keen for feedback on my work. Could you let me know where you have spotted bias in the reporting of AMcF please?

Here are the links, in case you were unable to find them:

Evidence In Chief

Cross Examination

Norma Anderson said...

I've not commented before although I've followed the blog from the very beginning. However, I would just like to wish you the very best of luck with this prize. I don't know enough about it to decide if the blog is relevant to this award or not - but I do hope you win it. This has been a fantastic resource for anyone wanting to know what really happened at the trial (please note Plot Tracer - James and Whatsy could only report what happened - not what you would have liked to have happened!) Thank you both for all your (continuing) hard work. I for one am very appreciative. All the best!

James Doleman said...

Thanks for that Norma, comments like that are worth more that any prize.

all the best