Clegg & Huhne versus the real opposition
I am so proud. Yes, I know it makes me sound soft, but it’s the best way of describing how I feel tonight after watching the Newsnight debate. I am genuinely proud of Nick Clegg’s performance tonight. Nick answered every question concisely and to the point, but also went on to expand on his brief answer. He was truly liberal, laid to rest most of the accusations against him, seemed genuinely ambitious and visionary, and even dealt well with the difficult questions on coalition and immigration.
Where is the debate on the serious stuff?
I've said that I am disenchanted with the leadership election. That doesn't mean that I have disengaged from it. I've been following the campaign through the media and across the web, although I haven't had the opportunity to attend a hustings yet. For a beauty contest there has been a marked absence of sparkle and glamour.
The Wokingham Times
Last week some asked why 400,000 people left the UK last year to live and work elsewhere last year. I would have thought the answer was obvious. They’ve had enough. We live in a country where anyone who has gained some qualifications, who tries to pay their own way and to live a decent life feels targeted by this government. We have our identity assaulted, our democratic views ignored, our pockets and purses rifled by the state, our opinions criticised or banned and the public services we do wish to use run incompetently or rationed for us.
The wheel turns once more
Commuter rail lines into London are to be Livingstonised. The idea is that commuter lines terminating in London will be taken over by TFL and run on the same fare scheme as the Tubes and Buses. TFL will "bid" for the franchises, presumably in competition from the current private operators.
Ken leads Boris by 6%
With all the main candidates in place last week saw the first proper poll on next year’s London mayoral election (there have been some previous polls, but these were from sources without a strong track record and pitted Boris Johnson and Ken Livingstone against unnamed alternatives). The poll was conducted between the 7th-8th November (actually before Brian Paddick was selected, though the question named him as the Liberal Democrat candidate).
Brown was told as soon as it emerged
I'm told the data loss was identified a week or so ago. Police and then ministers, including Alistair Darling, were informed. The initial response at senior level was a horrified "you must be joking". The Chancellor promptly told the Prime Minister. Mr Darling wanted to make an immediate statement to the House, but police asked that no information be made public while they investigated.
HMRC lose data belonging to 25 million people
I’m speechless at this latest episode of incompetence by a Government department. As others have remarked elsewhere, given what has happened today, is there any reason why we should trust the Government with our data under the proposed ID cards scheme?
Just imagine that Lloyds TSB had loaded all its customer records onto an unencrypted CD and then lost it. What do you think would happen? First off, there'd be a huge public outcry, led by the media but with our name and shame politicos tut-tutting loudly from the grandstand. The share price would tank. Shareholders would insist that the CEO and half the board resign (that is, if they hadn't already gone on the announcement). No way would the sacking of a departmental manager be enough.
A Government on the Northern Rocks
Oh dear, it’s all going pear-shaped for Gordie. The Treasury that he presided over for ten years is a laughing stock, his puppet Chancellor is almost in tears, and to cap it all his party looks like it’s descending into nationalist bickering:
Oh Gord, this is bad
Charlie Whelan takes to the Telegraph today to defend his old boss but only ends up emphasising how bad his current situation is. Whelan writes:
An inquiry should review every Government system
The scale of yesterdays admission by the Government of a catastrophic failure of basic security procedures is, as you'd expect, the talk of the papers this morning. The Government's defensive line on the incident however do not stand up to any serious scrutiny.
The prime minister is tackling climate change in small steps. But if he wants to see ambitious reform, he should look to the Conservatives
Alistair Darling, where are my bank details?
I could not believe what I was listening to at 15:30 today. How the hell did 25m sets of personal details get lost in the post? My details are contained on one of the two missing discs, my bank account number, sort code, name, address, date of birth and National Insurance number. In fact everything that a crook could want. Why was this not brought to public attention sooner? Darling has made his excuses, but could it have something to do with him not wanting to announce such an almighty balls-up at the same time Jacqui Smith was informing the country that our security companies are overrun with illegal immigrants? Did they try to cover this up, just as they covered up the security fiasco?
Why do I bother?
Why do I bother carefully shredding everything that comes into this house with my name and address on it, or all my supermarket receipts, or anything that might give succour to an aspiring identity fraudster? What is the point when the Government goes and loses every bit of personal information I've ever entrusted to it?
Is this the end for ID cards?
Opponents of the government's ID cards, including politicians, hacks and bloggers, have suggested that yesterday's fiasco over child benefit records is the nail in the coffin for the national ID database. I'm not so sure. Millions of litres of ink have already been expended on this catastrophe by people more expert than your scribe (not to mention funnier websites). Suffice it to say, in this regard, that when 25 million records, including 7 million bank account details, can be downloaded onto a CD by a "junior official" - unencrypted, mind you - and stuck in the internal mail, for fuck's sake, we are well beyond satire. It was when Darling moved to reassure people by revealing that the discs were "password protected" that I started weeping with laughter. (Let's hope the password wasn't 1234, eh?)
Bye-Bye Darling. It's for the best.
One of the things that characterised the Blair administration, and for that matter, the Major Government before it, was the sight of Ministers seeking to cling on to office by their fingertips, no matter what. There was always enough blame for so many others that no culpability was left for themselves. Irrespective of the problems with his handling of the Northern Rock bailout, losing the personal details of half the country should not just cost the Civil Servant in charge of the the HMRC his job.
God (and security) is in the Detail of the Business Systems: Child Benefit Data Loss
I’ve been pointing out that - following on from the loss of Child Benefit Claimant data - there are questions that are deeper than short term politics: How do we make sure that short term political priorities do not undermine the reliability and efficiency of the machinery of state that we all depend on? There are two sides to this, the political and the organisational. Let me add a third: the technical. And Dizzy asks all the right questions in this area: