Back page: My week - Claire McMaster wants a megaphone


I'm back in the office after a bout of laryngitis, which entailed losing my voice - although some would say that's no bad thing, and at least it gave me the chance to catch up on The West Wing. I realise how useful my voice has been over the years as a tool for protest and vow to put a megaphone back on the office supplies list. It might come in useful down at Parliament Square ... but more of that later.


I join two of last year's winners at the press launch for the 2007 Sheila McKechnie Foundation Awards for campaigners. Jackie Schneider (a school teacher by day) explains that if you are a doer, not a moaner, then you are a campaigner. The awards give rising campaigners extra skills to make a greater impact on decision makers (applications are now open, so spread the word).

Ed Miliband, the Cabinet Office minister, comments that progressive change normally comes about because of the efforts of campaigners rather than politicians. I decide not to disagree.

In the run-up to Thanksgiving, the coverage of the mid-term US elections continues. We too have reason to give thanks, as commentators are talking about a newly humbled George Bush and Virginia has a new place in the lexicon of tipping points.

Alongside this comes the news that Nick Griffin of the BNP has been cleared of inciting racial hatred relating to speeches he made in 2004.


The Queen's Speech is today. The work of the Stop Climate Chaos coalition has paid off, with the introduction of a Climate Change Bill in this session.

Thousands were in Trafalgar Square a couple of weeks ago, but watching today's ceremonies I wonder what impression younger people have of our political system?


Peace activist Milan Rai and others will bring a High Court challenge to the law prohibiting unauthorised demonstrations within a kilometre of Parliament. It's still surprising to find this law in a country with such a strong tradition of protest. Rai, represented by Liberty, is appealing against a magistrate's court ruling in April that he violated the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005.

Why do printers work fine until you want to mail-merge 100 letters? Fellow campaigners will appreciate the frustration. While I am in danger of shouting myself hoarse, an invitation arrives on my desk for Concern Worldwide's exhibition - 'Positive Lives', on 1 December, World Aids Day. It puts the whole week into perspective.

- Claire McMaster is chief executive of the Sheila McKechnie Foundation.

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