Skip to main content

No Easy Day in June

It’s the 7th June and I wanted to post an iconic photo of ‘Easy Company,’ the paratrooper heroes made famous in the series, ‘Band of Brothers,’ standing together, in the square of Sainte-Marie-du-Mont, June 7, 1944, the day after D-Day.

Quite extraordinary , brave men at an extraordinary time in our history. Ahead of them still lay the snow of the Ardennes, Holland and finally, Hitler's own abandoned headquarters, Berchtesgaden.

Tomorrow, Britain decides with yet another General Election. Other than voting like everyone else, I have another job and that’s flying, with my colleagues, the Labour Party’s aerial campaign across marginal seats in the Midlands, the North-east and the North-west. Given the weather forecast for Thursday, I’m doubtful whether any of the aircraft with their big sheet banners will get into the air but you never know, we may get lucky. The English summer is such an unpredictable thing.

Watching the news on TV, I would love to be able to ask some of the people who are interviewed by journalists for the many ‘Vox Pops,” why they are voting for any particular Party. Why they really 'believe,' what they believe, is in anyway true or simply a misplaced and perhaps outdated statement of tribal loyalty to a political class or culture?

Come Friday though, like June of last year, the decision of the people will come across loud and clear, although I’m not convinced that many of them really understand what the implications of their decisions might be; much like the referendum of June 23rd last year. When as a minor local politician, I had media training, I was told that 78% of the general population don’t listen to or watch the news, their views are in part, formed by popular TV programmes such as Coronation Street, Brookside and East-enders and so, like this weblog, you are reading this because you are in the 12% of those who share an interest in news, politics and technology.

Ultimately, the worry is less about the result of our General Election and more about the consequences and conditions of BREXIT. Nobody has a clue what the future and our economy will look like in five years and all next week’s Government can do is hope to make a very hard landing a little less painful than the economists expect it to be.

What we do know now or at least those of us who follow such matters, is that without printing more money (Quantitative Easing) and consequently devaluing our currency and driving inflation, the cash simply doesn’t exist to fulfill the promises and plans of any of the main political Parties.

There will however, be one result of this General Election, regardless who comes to power and that will be the strengthening of the surveillance State beyond anything we might have imagined at the turn of this century. I’m suddenly reminded of the words of A.J.P. Taylor:

"Until August 1914, an Englishman could pass through life and hardly notice the existence of the State...."


Popular posts from this blog

Civilisational Data Mining

It’s a new expression I haven’t heard before. ‘Civilisational data mining.’

Let me start by putting it in some context. Every character, you or I have typed into the Google search engine or Facebook over the last decade, means something, to someone or perhaps ‘something,’ if it’s an algorithm.


In May 2014, journalists revealed that the United States National Security Agency, the NSA, was recording and archiving every single cell-phone conversation that took place in the Bahamas. In the process they managed to transform a significant proportion of a society’s day to day interactions into unstructured data; valuable information which can of course be analysed, correlated and transformed for whatever purpose the intelligence agency deems fit.

And today, I read that a GOP-hired data company in the United States has ‘leaked’ personal information, preferences and voting intentions on… wait for it… 198 million US citizens.

Within another decade or so, the cost of sequencing the human genome …

The Nature of Nurture?

Recently, I found myself in a fascinating four-way Twitter exchange, with Professor Adam Rutherford and two other science-minded friends The subject, frequently regarded as a delicate one, genetics and whether there could exist an unknown but contributory genetic factor(s) or influences in determining what we broadly understand or misunderstand as human intelligence.

I won’t discuss this subject in any great detail here, being completely unqualified to do so, but I’ll point you at the document we were discussing, and Rutherford’s excellent new book, ‘A Brief History of Everyone.”

What had sparked my own interest was the story of my own grandfather, Edmond Greville; unless you are an expert on the history of French cinema, you are unlikely to have ever hear of him but he still enjoys an almost cult-like following for his work, half a century after his death.

I've been enjoying the series "Genius" on National Geographic about the life of Albert Einstein. The four of us ha…
The Mandate of Heaven

eGov Monitor Version

“Parliament”, said my distinguished friend “has always leaked like a sieve”.

I’m researching the thorny issue of ‘Confidence in Public Sector Computing’ and we were discussing the dangers presented by the Internet. In his opinion, information security is an oxymoron, which has no place being discussed in a Parliament built upon the uninterrupted flow of information of every kind, from the politically sensitive to the most salacious and mundane.

With the threat of war hanging over us, I asked if MPs should be more aware of the risks that surround this new communications medium? More importantly, shouldn’t the same policies and precautions that any business might use to protect itself and its staff, be available to MPs?

What concerns me is that my well-respected friend mostly considers security in terms of guns, gates and guards. He now uses the Internet almost as much as he uses the telephone and the Fax machine and yet the growing collective t…