Tag: labour party

Tablets to sort Scots wolves from English sheep

David-Cameron-at-the-EU-s-007The UK government is pushing through a bill to allow only English MPs to vote on English only matters as part of a pledge UK prime minister David Cameron made before this year’s general election.

Chris Grayling, leader of the House of Commons, said the Tory party is a “passionate supporter of the Union” of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. As there are 50-odd Scottish Nationalist Party (SNP) members in the Commons, and sundry other MPs from the other two countries, the logistical matter of separating the Scottish, Welsh and Irish wolves from the English sheep is a bit of a problem.

The Tory party only has one MP in Scotland after the SNP staged a landslide victory which swept away nearly all Labout MPs as well as Liberal Democrats.

Currently, when MPs vote they file through two lobbies – one for yes and one for no – and are counted by human tellers.

But in a move which will propel MPs from Gladstone’s days into the 21st century, the Clerks have come up with a new system of telling using tablet computers to account for the differences in nationalities.

The tablets, said Grayling, will “give the Tellers an immediate tally of whether a measure has a majority of English MPs”.

He did not say which brand of tablets will be used, but the method won’t apply to the House of Lords because, well, it just won’t.

Grayling’s plans were picked up by Pete Wishart, the shadow SNP leader of the House of Commons.

He said: “What a lot of constitutional bilge and unworkable garbage!” He said the plans will create two classes of members of parliament. “We would do as well to stamp the foreheads of Scottish MPs before they go into the Lobby, and I thought that the Leader of the House was quite close to suggesting or proposing it.”

Grayling said: “The honourable Gentleman seems a tad on the exercised side”.

Digital Economy Act gets a lashing

Earlier this week the UK coalition government put up a web site aimed at pieces of legislation that were ill conceived or threatening to civil liberty.

The government says it will listen to the people and canvass our views before it drafts a “freedom bill” or whatever it turns out to be.

As TechEye reported shortly before the UK general election, the then opposition, the Conservative Party, colluded with the Labour Party to push the digital economy act through, effectively stifling debate and ignoring the many voices from the IT world ranged against it. The Liberal Democrats, now in coalition with the Conservative Party, opposed this.

Now we see on the “Your Freedom” site an appeal to the government to can the digital economy act as a basic assault on freedom. It remains to be seen whether the lobbyists for the now act will be more influential than the Queen’s subjects.

You can find the appeal here All other ideas are here..

Australian web censorship proves to be unpopular

The Australian Labor Party apparently has been thinking that its plan to censor the internet was going to be popular.

Now, as the party slumps in the opinion polls, a survey has revealed that Aussies do not want web censorship after all.

Initially Labor stuck to its guns on censorship pointing to a phone survey run by McNair Ingenuity indicated widespread support for the initiative among ordinary voters.

However, new findings from a study commissioned by the Safer Internet Group indicate that the more parents find out about the proposed filter, the less they support it.

The report, conducted by GA Research, said that while parents were certainly concerned about what their children might be exposed to on the internet, when details of the proposed mandatory filter were explained and they became aware that other filtering options were available, their enthusiasm for the government’s approach dropped.

It is starting to look like only rabid Christian groups are supporting the filter. However, they do not make up the majority of Aussie voters.

Others argue that the measure could prove ineffective and open the door to censorship of other important non-illegal material.

To be fair to the Labor Party, the Safer Internet Group, which is made up of companies and organisations that include Google, Internet Industry Association, iiNet, Australian Council of State School Organisations and the Australian Library and Information Association.

In other words the sorts of people who are opposed to web censorship. The research was also extremely limited with only 39 people taking part in four focus group interviews.

In line with the McNair study, the focus groups indicated initial broad support for the Government’s proposed legislation, “however, when details of the proposal were explained in the focus groups and people became aware that other approaches to filtering are available, enthusiasm dropped. The more information parents received, the less they supported the government’s proposed solution,” the GA report said.

When researchers gave options on different ways of approaching internet filtering, the overwhelming majority of participants in the focus groups did not choose the government’s proposal.


Instead they plugged for more education of parents and children in how to use the internet more safely and access and install free filters.

ID card faces brownout as Brown out

Gordon Brown appears to have been displaced as prime minister of Her Majesty’s Brittanic United Kingdom and Colonies and that means the crazy ID card scheme will be no more. Hopefully.

Brown will have to go see the Queen and suggest his successor. The sums were all wrong for the Dundonian.

The Liberal Democrats and the Conservative Party appear to have formed a coalition and both are opposed to the ID card scheme, a scheme that has already cost British taxpayers an arm and a leg.

A combination of Liberal Democrats and Conservative party members of parliament means that the coalition will have a majority in the House of Commons.

Although the Conservative Party may be nurturing a Whiggish viper in its bosom, it looks likely that one of the things the two parties can agree on is that the ID card is dead.

Both the Conservative Party and the Liberal Party are riven by internal divisions – a natural state of affairs in any group of human beings that claim to be working together towards an ideal.

And there really are quite a lot of divisions between LibDems and Tories – the Labour Party will now sit on the sidelines and watch the squabbles as a new government tries to address the dreadful debt the UK is in. It hopes to capitalise when the coalition falls flat on its face.

Quite often, when there’s a change of government, the first thing they do is change the name of government departments at frightful expense.

UK satirical magazine Private Eye painted Gordon Brown as a Stalinist. The magazine will now have to figure out what it will do as Broon changes into Cameroon…

Pirate Bay militates against Digital Economy Act

The Labour Government, in its fag days, pushed through the Digital Economy Act (DEA) with the collusion of the Tory Party.

But Pirate Bay is rallying its forces to say it’s not too late to turn the tide against the Act.

Pirate Bay itself is vulnerable to the DEA, according to web site Torrent Freak. No one is entirely sure what measures may be brought in by the Act. That’s because, like many other Acts, there are elements that can be brought into action using statutory instruments (SIs). SIs are not debated.  Instead, they are laid on the table of the UK House of Commons and become law.

According to one expert on UK Law that TechEye chatted to last week, SIs were first introduced into the UK in the 13th century. Between the 13th century and when Labour came into power in 1997, only 6,000 SIs were used. In the last 13 years, Labour has implemented 20,000 more.

Torrent Freak said that Pirate Bay has published an info bulletin to help people understand how they can get the Act repealed.

One way might be to ask local candidates for election in the UK to say whether they will go for repeal of the Act, if re-elected.

Torrent Freak is here. Pirate Bay is here.

Gordon Brown slammed for supporting Oracle, Microsoft

This morning our celebrated Prime Minister Gordon Brown spoke to some collected press about how he plans to save the nation £4 billion before 2012 on the government’s back office functions.

Open source technology was cited as the ethos on which Digital Britain will be built. The PM used the shared services centre in the Department for Work and Pensions (the Dole), which already supports 140,000 staff in three departments and plans to take on four more in the next year, as an example of what he wanted.

Needless to say the Open Source companies are thrilled. Steve Shine, executive vice president of worldwide operations, Ingres, the world’s largest open source database provider released a statement saying that this was just the beginning.

“This is a welcome move to community led software development and freedom from lock-in to huge, long term contracts with proprietary technology vendors such as Oracle and Microsoft,” he said.

However, he points out that often these plans to introduce more open source projects to government do not come to fruition.

“Over the past 12 months the office of the CIO has continually pointed to open source as the key to reducing capital expenditure on large public sector IT projects,” Shine continued. “[We] have not seen the enforcement of these policies at a practical level and so view this announcement cautiously.”

“Right now there is a very large negotiation underway to renew Oracle’s contract with the MOD which in theory should be put to competitive tender but sadly is being conducted behind closed doors.”

TechEye have asked Oracle directly if they would like to comment on this. So far we have not been able to talk to anyone from the software giant. All we wanted was Oarcle’s side of the story.

Microsoft too, who are also long term contractors with the government, is unable to help.

TechEye didn’t really know what to do that this point? We have the government telling us that we will have open source, the open source experts telling us not to hold our breath and the software giants not talking at all.

So we have decided to write directly to Gordon Brown for some answers. You’ll find below a transcript of our letter*. He has to talk to us right?

We’ll keep you updated.

Transcript of letter

Dear Mr Brown,

I read a transcript of your speech this morning with interest. Especially the part where you have pledged to cut government spending by £4 billion on back office functions.

One of these functions is the renewal of software maker Oracle’s contract with the MOD. Will there be the opportunity to open up the public sector IT procurement process so that other companies who may be cheaper bit for a chance to be the government contractor.

It is my understanding that often the public sector IT procurement process is closed and this strikes me neither as fair nor particularly democratic. If I have the details wrong in any way then please do let me know.

I look forward to hearing your response and good luck in the next few weeks with the Budget and run up to the Election.

Kind regards,

Alexandra Pullin


*yes letter, you cannot email the Prime Minister

Conservatives very insecure about IT security

David Cameron today set out the Tory Party’s security agenda with a green paper entitled ‘A Resilient Nation’. In it, the Tory leader pledged that if we let him near Downing Street, he will defend the UK against cyber attacks, and promised to improve national security.

In a speech at Chatham House, he said, if elected, he will create a new Cyber Security Operations Centre which would provide intelligence about the online threats facing the country, as well as threat assessment and situational awareness facilities.

The Cyber Threat and Assessment Centre (CTAC), would also act as the single reporting point for all cyber-related incidents.

“As technology and computers and the Internet become bigger and bigger parts of our lives, the effect of cyber-warfare will become more pronounced,” Cameron said. “You only have to look at the so-called ‘Clickskrieg’ against Estonia in 2007 – which crippled the government and the banking sector and almost brought the entire country to a halt – for a sign of how serious a major attack could be.”

He also proposed a Cyber Security and Information Assurance Unit, to provide advice to government departments and businesses on computer security, network security, information security and information assurance. He sort of pitched it as a team of ninjas working in an IT department, checking everyone’s internet.

 “[We need] a Cyber Security and Information Assurance Unit, to provide advice to government departments and businesses on computer security, network security, information security and information assurance,” said Cameron.

The green paper ‘A Resilient Nation’ also tackles other areas of national security. Cameron also pointed out the bleeding obvious in his speech by proposing that it would be a bad thing if the ‘essential sectors of daily life – energy, food, water, transport, telecommunications, government and public services, emergency services, health and finance’ were compromised. Adding that they must be able to withstand and respond to extreme events such as attacks. Brilliant work there Dave.

Overall Cameron pledged that Conservative government will:

• Develop a National Integration Strategy which promotes the common English language and a sense of a shared history as the cornerstones of a successful community

• Focus the ‘Prevent’ Strategy on combating the extremism which promotes violence or hatred, not just violent extremism, and supporting those most vulnerable to radicalisation and those already radicalised through targeted intervention strategies

• Integrate counter terrorism tasking into effective community policing

Our favourite strategy is:

• Work with local authorities to deliver localised cohesion strategies which promote activities that increase contact and integration between communities

Which basically means getting people in councils to talk to people more. But to be honest, we were lost at ‘localised cohesion’.

TechEye tried today to speak to someone, anyone at Conservative HQ who could shed a bit more light on this and the strategy as a whole. How, for example, were the tories proposing to keep secure a single reporting point for all suspicious behaviour? How would they police suspicious activity? And what makes online activity suspicious anyway? Are the tories proposing something along the same lines as the Peter Mandelson way perhaps with his tough and unfair three strikes system? We wanted to hear from them exactly what they were saying.

But rather than being able to answer those questions, we were passed about like a bad penny. We spent up to twenty minutes talking to about ten different people in three departments. None of whom could help and none of whom could give out the press offices number, for security reasons. When we enquired as to whether it would be on the website we were met with a shocked “Oh no.”. We can’t go on like this, we were thinking, when someone took pity on us and an email was given out. We’ve emailed it. Three hours later an email came back saying someone would email us ‘either later this evening by email or tomorrow’. We suspect Paxman doesn’t get this kind of grief.

We will update this as and when we hear more, but perhaps if the Conservatives had a look at their ‘localised cohesion strategies which promote activities that increase contact and integration between communities’, this whole process might be easier.