Peter Reynolds

The life and times of Peter Reynolds

Posts Tagged ‘technology

Has There Ever Been A Worse UK Government Than This?

with 53 comments

I am a member of the Conservative Party – just.  My annual subscription is due and I feel physically sick at the prospect of doing anything that is supportive of the appalling collection of third and fourth rates that presently sit round the cabinet table.

The Conservative Party has Lost Its Way. We Need To Get Back To Being Tories.

We need to re-focus on our fundamental principles: individual liberty, individual responsibility, small government, free markets, evidence-based policy and a benevolent, responsible, one-nation approach.

Let’s face it, we’ve had a privileged toff, little more than a ponce on the nation, who from his position of wealth found it very easy to impose austerity on people with whom he was totally out-of-touch. Throughout his political career he vacillated and dithered on policy because he has no principles except self-advancement.  Now we have some fake Tory, an authoritarian bureaucrat with big government, nanny state instincts, daughter of a high Anglican priest stuck in some 195os delusion of what Britain is today.

Meanwhile, a socialist activist but a man with integrity, courage and vision has stolen our place.  Jeremy Corbyn provides more leadership in the UK than the entire Conservative cabinet put together.  He was magnificent at Glastonbury, seizing the hearts and minds of not just the young but the young at heart – seizing the future!  Where is the Tory alternative? There is great excitement, belief and enthusiasm for Brexit, 17.4 million people voted for it!  Where is the Conservative spokesperson passionately declaiming this?  The party has been hijacked by Remainers, determined to undermine the referendum result, interested only in the ambitions and concerns of the Westminster Elite.

When I try to talk to my MP, Sir Oliver Letwin, formerly number three in Cameron’s cabinet, although I am talking to someone a few months younger than me, I feel I am talking to my father’s generation – and to someone particularly old-fashioned and out-of-touch.  My local Conservative Party branch, charming though many of the members are, is like an episode of Last of the Summer Wine, as disconnected from the rest of the UK as Cameron is from anyone on less than £250k per annum.  At 59, I’m a youngster.

It’s outrageous really that my party has got itself into such a state with years of weak opposition, popular support for non-socialist policies and, until Corbyn, an absence of effective alternative leadership.  It’s nothing less than disastrous and unless we change now we are doomed.  The membership is old and dying.  If we don’t get a grip within five years we will be gone forever.

A Perfect Storm Of Failure, Corruption And Arrogance.

I’ve been fascinated by and active in politics since the late 1970s. Never in my lifetime have I seen such a combination of mistakes and scandalous cock-ups. Brexit has been sabotaged by dithering and delay – and I’m quite ready to believe this is a calculated deceit.  With the BBC, the bankers and the Twitterati renewing Project Fear on a daily basis, is it any wonder that the going is tough?  Cameron resigned because he said we needed a Leave supporter to take charge but instead we have a Remainer, one of the worst performing government ministers ever.  How, after six years of persistent failure at the Home Office, she became PM is beyond belief but even more incredible is that after her terrible election performance she is still in No. 10.  It is ridiculous!

The failures are all too easy to see but let’s list them to be certain that the huge scale of this crisis is understood.

Brexit – Total failure to plan, perhaps deliberately, best illustrated by the absurd spectacle, just last month, of the Home Office commissioning analysis of the economic and social contributions and costs of EU citizens in Britain.  Surely something that should have been done years ago?  Boris Johnson and Michael Gove have both proved themselves to be lacking in courage and leadership skills.  The bumptious fool Dr Liam Fox, who does seem to stick to his principles on Brexit, shames us by his foreign adventures, recently praising the murdering thug President Duterte of the Philippines as having ‘shared values’ with Britain.

NHS – Persistent deceit from ministers, including the utterly in-credible Jeremy Hunt, about how much money in real terms the health service is receiving.  Scandalous failure to keep multiple promises about mental health having parity with physical health.

Democracy – The UK’s system of government is now a joke compared to other modern democracies.  Our electoral system is primitive.  Conservative and Labour parties conspire to keep the system as it is because it keeps them both in power.  It is obvious that we should be moving towards some form of proportional representation, online voting and a radical shake-up of the House of Lords.  MPs also need to be much more accountable.  The terrible murder of Jo Cox has let too many of them off the hook that the expenses scandal put them on.  Recently they have been whining about the abuse they get online. In general they deserve it for the terrible job they are doing. Also, they get protection from the police for such abuse.  The police are useless when it’s a member of the public under attack.  We need a job description for MPs, rights for constituents and a complaints procedure with teeth.

Social policy – I am ashamed at how Conservative ministers in reality are indistinguishable from the populist caricature of the ‘arrogant, uncaring, effing Tories’.  The Grenfell Tower tragedy encapsulates everything that is wrong with the high-handed view that they take of the people who pay their wages.

Justice – After food, shelter and health what is more important than justice?  The destruction of legal aid is one of the most dreadful developments in my lifetime.  All governments delight in making more and more law but what use is it if it cannot be enforced?  There is no justice if it is not available to everyone.  I am delighted at the Supreme Court’s ruling that makes legal aid available once again for employment tribunals  Without it employment law was literally useless and thousands have been deprived of their rights.  And for his disastrous, destructive, incompetent and thoroughly nasty attitude the man who defines injustice in modern Britain is Chris Grayling.  No other minster has more disgraced our party.  He is unfit to be in government and why he remains anywhere near ministerial office is unbelievable.  No one individual better epitomises the nasty, arrogant, incompetent Tory.

Prisons – There is no greater truth than that in a free society we are defined by how we treat those we send to jail.  This is a terrible condemnation of Britain.  Our prison system is a production line for turning petty criminals into alienated, aggressive, violent repeat offenders.  There is no one who deserves the additional punishments we impose on top of deprivation of liberty.  I would make an exception for Chris Grayling who really should be made to experience a taste of his own medicine.  The Netherlands is closing prisons because it doesn’t send enough people to jail.  We should swallow our pride and copy their system exactly.

Technology – As the nation that has led the world in virtually all new technologies, we are now falling a long way behind.  The government has failed miserably to give enough priority to high speed internet.  We will never catch up now and our children and our businesses are forever disadvantaged.  Progress is hampered in development of new energy sources, transport and infrastructure by bureaucracy, endless bickering between special interest groups and weak strategic management.  The EU has magnified all these problems and prevented progress in GM foods and other technologies that are essential to our future.

Transport – With Chris Grayling at the helm and the farce that is HS2, there is no hope for a sensible transport strategy.  I simply don’t buy the argument that a slightly faster journey time between north and south will do anything to create a better future.  Train fares are ludicrously high.  The conditions commuters are expected to travel under are ridiculous.  The Southern Rail scandal is a microcosm of government incompetence and inaction.  It should have been re-nationalised at least a year ago and there should be massive fines and penalties on those responsible for the chaos, including individuals.  I see no conflict with Conservative principles in re-nationalising the whole network.  The mess that has prevailed since privatisation could not be any worse and compare us with railway networks and service on the continent for a true picture of our national shame and decay.

Environment – Technology and transport converge with environmental policy and this is a difficult, challenging area of policy.  What we need is strong leadership – no, not the empty claims of Mrs May but the real leadership of Mrs Thatcher.  Even the despicable Tony Blair showed more leadership than we have had from any current Conservative politician.  We need to take bold decisions and act on them.  Ecology and controlling pollution must be a real priority but we must not be distracted by the greeny loons and their endless prevarication and delays.  I have no objection to fracking as long as it is strictly regulated and in recent visits to Ireland I have seen how forests of wind turbines do not destroy wonderful countryside and can have their own beauty, just as we now revere Victorian aqueducts and civil engineering.  Most of all though we should racing ahead with tidal power.  As an island it has to be our future and its potential is unlimited.

Northern Ireland – I hope one of the by-products of Brexit will be a united Ireland.  There is no longer a real majority of unionists in the six counties and it only ever existed because of immigrants from Scotland.  The UK’s shameful history in Ireland places a heavy obligation on us.  We are one and the same people and the damage inflicted by the English Parliament on our neighbours must be put right.  We are far closer to the Irish than we are to the French, the Dutch or the Belgians.  As independent nations, with Ulster properly restored, we could be closer than ever and if Ireland wishes to remain in the EU, we should respect that.

Drugs Policy – No policy better demonstrates the incompetence, prejudice, cowardice and corruption of government ministers from all parties. Deaths from drug overdose have reached an all time high. There has been an explosion in highly toxic new psychoactive substances and the Psychoactive Substances Act 2016 has increased harms, deaths, associated crime and potency, exactly as was predicted, warnings the government chose to ignore.  The government has refused to consider or take any expert advice on introducing legal access to medical cannabis, something that virtually all other modern democracies are moving forward on. Its continuing policy on cannabis defies scientific evidence and real-life experience from places where reform has been implemented.  It also supports the criminal market, encourages street dealing, dangerous hidden cannabis farms and the production of poor quality, low-CBD, so-called ‘skunk’ cannabis.

Defence – A catalogue of cock-ups, dullards in charge and weak, indecisive leadership.  In my view we should cancel the renewal of Trident and  spend more on conventional weapons and defence measures which we may actually have to use.  We should retain some battlefield nuclear weapons but invest more in our soldiers and their technology. We should also look after them far better when they leave the service

Foreign Affairs – The UK is the world superpower in ‘soft power’.  Our culture, language, history give us more influence than any other nation and we should be proud to exercise it. We should have the courage to stand for our principles, independently of the USA and Europe.  The £12 billion we give in international aid is far too much when there is real poverty at home but even if we halved the present budget we would still lead the world.  We are responsible for the injustice perpetrated on the Palestinian people when we facilitated the seizure of their land in the 1940s.  We should be standing up to Israel which has become an out-of-control monster.  We created it and we must take responsibility for bringing it to order and helping it to live alongside its neighbours respectfully.  Its conduct is unacceptable and we should be pursuing war crimes prosecutions against Netanyahu and many of his cronies.

Housing – The housing crisis needs a courageous, radical solution, not the pathetic, sticking plaster gimmicks and gestures that is all we have had for 50 years.  Massive investment in social housing would create jobs and boost the economy all round.  We shouldn’t hesitate.  We shouldn’t fear a dramatic fall in house prices caused by massive extra supply. We have to get real and government must stop shirking its responsibility for a strategic role that only it can fill.

Boris is the only one with a brain

I have not yet decided whether I shall renew my membership.  I’m not even sure if there is any future in the UK for me.  Brexit was a great opportunity which has been sabotaged, perhaps fatally.  Britain may well become a tourist destination, fascinating for the way such a small nation led the world for centuries.  We are being led by weak, ineffectual, self-serving, out-of-touch and out-of date politicians.  As the Conservative Party is dying, it is dragging Britain down with it.

Massive Outcry For Legal Cannabis On Your Freedom Website

with 5 comments

Your Freedom

The coalition government’s Your Freedom website has, according to Nick Clegg, been “helpful and really exciting”.    It’s been going nearly a fortnight now and anyone who has tried to visit it will have their own experience of how popular and therefore slow and busy it is.

The single most remarkable thing about it though is the massive outcry for the legalisation of cannabis and an end to the war on drugs.  I don’t believe that people’s opinions have suddenly changed.  It’s just that they’ve been given a forum in which to express their views.  If the government doesn’t do something about this issue now they’re going to look pretty stupid.

Your Choice

Mind you, during Obama’s transition, after the election but before the inauguration, he introduced the idea on his change.gov website.  Legalisation of cannabis was the winning idea but it wasn’t adopted.

However, it is true that Obama has made big changes in favour of medical marijuana and that the war on drugs is clearly over.

The site itself is an object lesson in how not to set up an internet presence.   The chosen technology is absolutely useless. Seriously, I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything so bad.  HMG could have achieved a much better result with an off-the-shelf WordPress blog just like this one.  This is just another example of the now proven theory that anything the government does with IT will go wrong and cost a fortune.  Who are the idiots who were employed to set up this site?

It is completely overloaded and incapabable of handling the traffic it generates.

The software used for adding comments is the worst I have ever seen anywhere on the web.  When a commenter presses the “add comment” button there is no positive response.  Given how totally overloaded the site is it can take several minutes for the post to appear.  In the meantime, the commenter has pressed the button another four or five times before giving up.  Multiple copies of comments appear and the system slows down even more.

The moderation policy is bizarre to say the least.  It’s glaringly obvious that no thought at all was put into how to organise suggestions.  Consequently, there are literally hundreds of ideas that are almost identical.   Some of these are closed by the moderators and referred to another similar idea – but some aren’t.  They’ve learned nothing from the petitions section of the No 10 website.  It is just crazy!

There’s a strong suspicion of gerrymandering or tinkering with the posts, the votes and the comments.  It may just be the chaos of the site itself but it feels wrong.  There are dodgy things going on behind the scenes and protest is snuffed out.

Overall,  I’d rather we had the site as it is than not have it at all.  It’s just embarrassing though to see how bad it is.

It remains to be seen whether the government will take any notice.  If not though they’ve made a rod for their own back.

Why Are Withheld Numbers Allowed?

with one comment

It's Me!

Recently I started to receive a series of silent telephone calls.  Sometimes the caller would ring off as soon as I answered.  On other occasions  it would be some time before my line cleared.  It’s happened to me before as it has to most of us.  What makes me angry though is when you dial 1471 and find out that the caller was from a withheld number.

At one time I’d have assumed – no, correction – I’d have known that it was a deranged ex-girlfriend but not any more.  I’ve cleared all that sort of dross out of my life.  Now it could be one of those dreadful automated telemarketing computers which all sorts of otherwise reputable companies seem to think are an acceptable business tool.  I don’t.  I think they’re pretty much akin to an offensive weapon.

But why, oh why are withheld numbers allowed at all?

What possible reason or excuse can there be for allowing anyone to make anonymous telephone calls?  We have the technology.  Caller ID is now virtually universal.  What possible justification can there be for anyone to hide the number they’re calling from?  If they’re initiating the communication,  whoever they are, why should they be able to hide their identity?

So I thought I’d take advantage of BT’s “Anonymous Caller Rejection” service.  Now, I’m probably going to have to cancel it because so many people are having difficulty getting through to me.

First it was my electricity supplier.  Then it was a government department that I was doing some writing for.  Then it was my MP’s secretary who comes from the doctors’ receptionists charm school and was quite affronted, told me off even, that my phone won’t accept anonymous calls.

Sorry, Wrong Number!

Just what is it that makes these (mostly) rational people and organisations think it is acceptable to contact me anonymously?  Would they send me anonymous letters or emails or arrive at my door and refuse to identify themselves?

No, of course they wouldn’t.  It would be entirely wrong and it is entirely wrong to use anonymous or withheld telephone numbers too.

Generally I’m opposed to laws.  We have far too many already but in this instance we should legislate.  It’s ridiculous, deceptive, dishonest and unnecessary yet many of our biggest organisations and institutions do it as matter of course.

It’s unacceptable and it should be stopped.  Ban withheld numbers now!

Welcome to my world!

leave a comment »

Peter Reynolds is a writer, communications advisor and proud Welshman. He lives in a small town called Emsworth, between Portsmouth and Chichester on the south coast of England. After “dropping out” from life as a hippy musician, Peter experimented with direct sales and the motor trade before training as a copywriter and eventually making it to the top of his profession as a creative director with Saatchi & Saatchi. Along the way he developed special expertise in technology and healthcare working with clients such as IBM, Hewlett Packard, GSK and the Department of Health. He also worked as a freelance journalist writing for just about every PC magazine then on the market and had a weekly column in The Independent based on the simple idea of riding a bike but ranging across subjects such as politics, sport, technology and the media. Since the 1990s he has worked as a consultant to organisations such as Nokia, the British Army and Pinewood Studios. In 2004 he established Leading Edge Personal Technology as “the magazine for technology enthusiasts”. He continues to write on a wide range of subjects.