Thursday, November 27, 2014

Rifkind Defends Tech Giants

This week’s Speccie cover on the state’s war on tech is well worth a read. Its author wisely warns against heading down the slippery slope of surveillance:

“There’s no means of monitoring terrorists that doesn’t leave every-body else thinking you’re monitoring them, too… Think of Britain’s experience over the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (Ripa), which was introduced to allow the surveillance of serious criminals, and expanded, chaotically, to enable councils to spy on people suspected of fiddling school places. Make it much, much easier for Special Branch to read Geoffrey Al-Wannabi-Jihadi’s email, in other words, and how long until the local council can read yours, and use the fact you booked a rafting holiday as an excuse to cancel your disabled badge?”

In the end, he concludes attempts by the government to crack down on the likes of Google and Facebook are futile and disingenuous:

“If these vast new media empires were railroads, or sewage systems, or fibre-optic networks, then the clamour from governments would be to counter their own impotence by nationalising them… If Google and the like cracked on encryption and rolled over for every state demand, would that make us safer? Perhaps, but only for a week or two. For as long as there are other services more secure, or even just more obscure, those who do not wish to be seen will use them. The security services must know this, and increasingly I struggle to comprehend why they pretend not to.”

Malcolm Rifkind, chair of the Intelligence and Security committee, could do worse than heeding the advice of his son, Hugo…

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Nadhim Zahawi PMQs Musical Special:
“This Blessed Plot, This Earth, This Realm, This England!”

Guido felt it was only right to put Nadhim Zahawi’s PMQ to music:

“When I see a white van, Mr Speaker, I think of the small business owner who works long hours to put food on the family table. 

When I see the cross of St. George, I think of the words of my constituent William Shakespeare: This blessed plot, this earth, this realm, this England!

Will my Rt. Hon friend agree with me that we shouldn’t sneer at people who work hard, who are patriotic, and who love their country?”

A stirring speech to rival Dave’s “Love Actually” moment

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Dorrell Exits Through Revolving Door

When Stephen Dorrell stood down as chairman of the Health select committee back in June, Guido wondered:

“Why would [he] not want to keep the coveted post, as well as the extra pay, for [his] last year in the Commons? Nothing to do, Guido is sure, with the fact that anti-corruption Cabinet Office rules state that politicians have to spend a year ‘cooling off’ before they a can go to work in the lucrative private sector in an area they have acquired expert knowledge in through their position in public office. Any six-figure consultancy contracts and directorships they take up after the election would more than compensate them for their temporary short-term loss this year. A coincidence, no doubt.”

Sure as night follows day, Dorrell today announced he will be quitting parliament at the election to take a job as a health consultant with KPMG. Giving him time for a nice summer holiday before his cooling off period expires and he can start putting all that experience to good use. Kerching!

Party From Hell: Mellor Guest Speaker at Andrew Mitchell Bash

Quote of the Day

A ‘senior Conservative party official’ passes judgement on Theresa May:

“She is boring. A technocrat. She is Philip Hammond with a fanny. Not interesting, but rendered interesting by circumstance. And that circumstance is that she is a woman. And in an age when the Prime Minister gets it in the neck for refusing to wear a fucking T-shirt that says he is a feminist, that is a rocket boost right underneath you.”

Monday, November 24, 2014

Today in Court: Tory MPs Question Mitchell’s Account

plebgate-mitchell-sun

Andrew Mitchell’s former colleagues in the whips’ office do not believe his account of Plebgate, describing it as “extraordinary”, a court heard today. Tory MP John Randall claims “Mr Mitchell told me he could not recall what he said to the officer” in a whips meeting at the time. Michael Fabricant told the court of his reaction to seeing the former Chief Whip’s verbatim account of the incident at the gates of Downing Street in the Sunday Times“I found Mr Mitchell’s account surprising and somewhat amusing”. The court also heard evidence from protection officer Duncan Johnston, who recalled Mitchell refused to shake his hand the first time they met, instead telling him “you must be the hired muscle”. Johnston alleges Mitchell was “prone to temper tantrums” and was “verging on out of control”. Judgements are expected on Thursday. The case continues…

Why is Zac Goldsmith Sitting With UKIP’s MPs?

What is Zac Goldsmith doing deep in conversation with UKIP’s two MPs during the Recall debate this afternoon? And why has he crossed the floor to sit on the opposition benches? Curious…

UPDATE: Watch them in action here:

AD: After Dave

The official text lingo for Tory MPs discussing the post-Cameron age appears to be “AD” for “After Dave”.

As in:

“Won’t it be nice when we will be able to do all sorts of right-wing stuff, AD.”

Or:

“Who are you backing, AD? I’ve always liked that Owen Paterson”.

Even the most loyal of loyalist Cameroons concede that should Dave scrape through in 2015, he would be hard pushed to survive the inevitable party split triggered by a referendum two years later.

Tory Mayoral Candidate’s Nude Pics

“I’m a complete rags to riches boy,” Nick Boles’ old flatmate Ivan Massow tells the Standard today, as he announces his intention to be the Tory candidate for London mayor in 2016. Presumably these photos were taken before he could afford clothes…

Owen Patters On

Even when serving as Northern Ireland Secretary, Owen Paterson was plotting to be the standard bearer of the right. Inviting MPs over for weekends at his official residence, he would sound out potential allies. Since being sacked he has hosted a number of increasingly pompous keynote speeches on right-wing catnip subjects, such as the global warming and tax cuts. Today he’s banging on about Europe. Reportedly only two MPs have turned up to listen.

As you can see, they were in for a Monday morning treat:

I. INTRODUCTORY REMARKS

II. HISTORY OF THE EU – A political project from conception, masquerading as an economic project

III. MOTIVATION FOR A FULL POLITICAL UNION EXPOSED Contemporary Examples

IV. LOSING INFLUENCE IN THE EU

V. LOSING INFLUENCE ON THE WORLD STAGE:
1/28TH OF A CHAIR OR A WHOLE CHAIR AT ‘TOP TABLES’

VI. BOTH A SINGLE MARKET AND GLOBAL TRADE
a) a single market
b) global trade
c) immigration

VII. AN OPTIMISTIC, POSITIVE VISION – THE UK AFTER THE EU

VIII. AN ORDERLY EXIT – INVOKING ARTICLE 50

Paterson was clearly calculating that the Tories would be up the creek this week, post Rochester. Instead they are strangely united, watching Ed drive off a cliff in quiet amusement. It’s safe to say O-patz has not had much luck in his campaign so far, and people are hardly flocking to his banner. For good measure, his speech clashed with one by Theresa May. Someone who actually has a chance of being the next Tory leader…


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