Thursday, June 27, 2013

An Unreconstructed Dinosaur

I've to "sing for my dinner" at a private gathering at Claridges this evening, with a short presentation on the evolving world of Big Data. It's all very topical in the last week, with cloak and dagger story surrounding the a project called 'Prism' the NSA defector Edward Snowden and suggestions that GCHQ may also have been involved in communications intercepts through the tapping of fibre-optic cables.

Few people realise, that this revelation is anything remarkably new under the Communications Act because in the past and when BT was was the sole player, such things were almost taken for granted during the Cold War. However, the sheer volume of personal data and the rapidly evolving sophistication of the technology can now deliver very useful intelligence on selected individuals.

I'm in an unusual and somewhat privileged position, as I've seen how this kind of new technology can be deployed for potential national security purposes in an anti-terrorism role. While The Guardian newspaper proclaims its outrage, Britain's streets, are, in my opinion, safer from the threat from Islamic militants, as a consequence of 'proportionate' use of the new tools the intelligence services now have at their disposal.

Here in Thanet and as predicted a long time ago, you may have read the exciting news that Cllr Will Scobie has put his name forward as a candidate to challenge South Thanet's Conservative MP, Laura Sandys at the General Election in 2015.
From my last blog entry this week, you will have seen that I guessed something was in the air, when Labour's Harriet Harman appeared in Margate, tweeting that she was "Looking forward' to meeting young Will.

I might only remark, that our new full-time, Labour County Councillor has yet to have completed a full-term as a District Councillor and yet within a period of three years, he has also been catapulted by his father, the vice chair of the Council, the other Cllr Scobie, from university, into the role of Mayor of Margate as a cynical and thinly-disguised political youth opportunities scheme. All without ever having to lift a finger and experience in the harsh world of work, like everyone else he now wishes to represent.

At the tender age of 23 and fresh out of university, I don't believe that I would have had the hubris to even contemplate becoming a Member of Parliament but my own priorities and aspirations were very different and I found a job and a career, half a world away from my home in Thanet.

Rather more is expected from a Member of Parliament, than a pot-hole-counting local councillor, as a potential candidate for an office of the state. Rather naively, I would like to imagine that our MPs, as represented by an excellent, hard-working and widely-experienced Laura Sandys, knew something about the wider world in which they lived and had perhaps travelled beyond the limits of the A299 and St Nicholas roundabout. Clearly, I'm an unreconstructed political dinosaur and simply being able to read, write, mumble about the facist threat from Homer Simpson and wear a red rosette is enough for some. I'm sure we will all be watching the result with great interested as we wait to see if Nigel Farage will throw his UKIP hat into the ring in South Thanet, as he did once before.


Anonymous said...

Hmmm, unlike a couple of high up torys who have worked in politics since leaving Eton?

Any ambition of becoming a politician should bar you from ever being one. It should be a calling, not a career.

I don't agree that Will would not make a good politican just because he does not have work experiences, I just questions the life experience of someone so young. I also question the life experience of someone who went to Eton.

Simon Moores said...

I really don't believe you can contrast the widely recognised brilliance of the prime minister and chancellor, Cameron and Osborne, who "worked" as researchers before entering politics, with someone, even younger, who drove a van at a local School of English, part-time and described himself as a "Transport manager" on his rather limited CV.

Also, I had the privilege of working with Eton College once upon a time. One might wonder why all schools can't deliver its standards of education.

Anonymous said...

Will Scobie and David Cameron?

Anonymous said...

Or Fettes? it's an Ugly Rumour.

Anonymous said...

Or the private Nottingham High School. Good enough for Balls

Anonymous said...

I am one who subscribes to the not unreasonable notion that all MPs should have some life and work experiences before taking decisions on our lives on our behalf.

It is not any kind of jealousy on my part, having no ambitions to be a parliamentarian, that concerns me about this increasing modern trend to try to fast track people into a political career.

The comment on schools above, smacks more of class jealousy than some of our concerns at the pushing of young Will Scobie. Whether one supports the public school system or not, they do provide a superb education and their products should be no more condemned for it than if they came from more humble background. It is how they perform that counts.

At young Mr Scobie's age I was an army officer, commanding a detachment of troops on peacekeeping duties and seeing something of the world. I would much prefer to have done that than being in Will's shoes and I bet I had a lot more fun.

Anonymous said...

I dont know Will, and I dont have anything against him personally.

Being an MP is a significant step up the ladder compared to being a TDC/KCC clr. As clr he has a voice/power to control how money is spent locally and general day to day running of local councils.

As an MP, he has a voice/power to change the UK Law, which governs the England.

I have to agree with Simon, and say I dont believe a 23yr old (25 in 2015), should have the power to bring back the death penalty etc.

I dont like Nigel Farage.

John Holyer said...

I once worked close with GCHQ. They say that if you transmit it then they can get it. In the world of SIGINT they are the best. We are lucky to have GCHQ - they save lives.

John Holyer said...

I just feel sorry for Will. He is being robbed of his youth in order to satisfy the ambitions of his elders.

He should get a new suit and break free. There is an exciting world out there, which it seems he may never know. In the words of the Rod Stewart song, "Youth's a mask and it don't last/ so live it long and live it fast".

Anonymous said...

It's Simon who you should feel bitter for JH, it can't be a happy life being so bitter all the time (no wonder so few of the other Tory cllrs socialise with him!).

Simon Moores said...

What makes you think that Councillors socialise? We are far too busy. In your imagination or the past perhaps but certainly not in any modern reality other than brief encounters!

Anonymous said...

I made the first post.

Paying for your education is nothing about class. You don't need to be aristocracy to go to a good school, just riche.

All schools are capable of providing a good education, you just need the money to attract the right teachers, have the best facilities etc. something not all state schools can do, but most private schools can.

If you have no money and live in a poor area, the likelihood of your child attending a poor school increase. That's an unfair system.

But iid like to have people with that life experience making decisions on child welfare and education, not someone who has had a life of privelige.

Anonymous said...

I should know, I attend enough functions with TDC cllr friends (mainly Tory but a few Labour too). They obviously "forget" to invite you!

Simon Moores said...


That's the one with the curled-up sandwiches, pints of 'special' and a farting contest to finish the night I assume?

How those long winter evenings must fly for you?

You may be confusing me with someone who cares!

John Holyer said...

Anon 2:22 pm,

And it's also about the union dominated ideology and social engineering which is often a barrier in the state system.

Anonymous said...

Well I can't recall Shirley doing the farting bit...

Anonymous said...

I drove past GCHQ in 1972 while listening to a pirate radio station. Should I be concerned? :)