WikiLeaks nominated for Nobel Peace Prize

The whistleblowing website is one of 241 nominees for the annual award.

The whistleblowing website WikiLeaks has today been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.

The nomination comes after a stellar year for the anti-secrecy site, which became a household name after releasing the Afghanistan and Iraq war logs and, more recently, more than 250,000 US diplomatic cables.

In recent months, however, an increasing number of allegations against the website's founder, Julian Assange, have overshadowed the site's achievements.

Today's announcement comes just days after Assange lost his fight against extradition to Sweden, to face allegations of rape and sexual molestation. New allegations also appeared today in Private Eye, which claims that Assange blames his plight on three journalists – Alan Rusbridger, David Leigh and the former editor of the New Statesman John Kampfner – all of whom, Assange claimed falsely, "were Jewish".

The other nominees for the prize include the Afghan rights advocate Sima Samar, the European Union, the former German chancellor Helmut Kohl, the Cuban dissident Oswaldo Paya Sardinas, and the Russian rights group Memorial as well as its founder, Svetlana Gannushkina.

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You may call me a monster – but I'm glad that girl's lemonade stall got shut down

What's wrong with hard-working public servants enforcing perfectly sensible regulations?

Who could fail to be moved by the widely shared tears of a five year old whose innocent lemonade stall was brutally shut down by evil bureaucrats? What sort of monster would not have their heartstrings tugged by the plaintive “I've done a bad thing” from a girl whose father tells us she “just wanted to put a smile on people's faces”?

Well me, actually.

There are half a million cases of food poisoning each year in the UK, and one of the reasons we have stringent controls on who can sell food and drink, especially in unsealed containers, is to try to cut those figures down. And street stalls in general are regulated because we have a system of taxation, rights and responsibilities in this country which underpins our functioning society. Regulation is a social and economic good.

It’s also pretty unfair to criticise the hard-working public servants who acted in this case for doing the job they are no doubt underpaid to do. For the council to say “we expect our enforcement officers to show common sense” as they cancelled the fine is all very well, but I’m willing to bet they are given precious little leeway in their training when it comes to who gets fined and who doesn’t. If the council is handing out apologies, it likely should be issuing one to its officers as well.

“But these are decent folk being persecuted by a nanny state,” I hear you cry. And I stand impervious, I’m afraid. Because I’ve heard that line a lot recently and it’s beginning to grate.

It’s the same argument used against speed cameras and parking fines. How often have you heard those caught out proclaim themselves as “law-abiding citizens” and bemoan the infringement of their freedom? I have news for you: if you break the speed limit, or park illegally, or indeed break health and safety or trading regulations, you are not a law-abiding citizen. You’re actually the one who’s in the wrong.

And rarely is ignorance an excuse. Speed limits and parking regulations are posted clearly. In the case of the now famous lemonade stand, the father in question is even quoted as saying “I thought that they would just tell us to pack up and go home.” So he knew he was breaking the rules. He just didn’t think the consequences should apply to him.

A culture of entitlement, and a belief that rules are for other people but not us, is a disease gripping middle Britain. It is demonstrated in many different ways, from the driver telling the cyclist that she has no right to be on the road because she doesn’t pay road tax (I know), to the father holding up his daughter’s tears to get out of a fine.

I know, I’m a monster. But hooray for the enforcers, I say.

Duncan Hothersall is the editor of Labour Hame