Tech Problems Leave Tory Staff With Nothing To Do

Conservative parliamentary staffers are stuck in a rut as two key online services for Conservative MPs’ staff are down. The Policy Research Unit, which produces research and recommended responses for questions about policy, as well as Cross Reference, which allows Conservative staffers to check if someone contacting their office is genuinely a constituent, have been out of service since Monday. One amused caseworker told Guido “It’s great, we cant do work as we can’t check people are constituents!” Really?

UPDATE: Staffers have been emailed to say that a fix is still being worked on. After three days they are not holding out much hope. Guido understands that the problems stem from the departure of the PRU’s tech guru Nick Roberts, who almost single-handedly wrote all the code for both services. Now no one there knows how to unpick it or make substantive changes…

UPDATE II: Guido hears that the PRU have been unwilling to hire a full-time replacement for Roberts to nurture and develop the code, instead trying to get developers on the cheap on a ‘pay-as-you-go’ basis. Chickens coming home to roost…

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Quote of the Day

Dr Alexander Kogan, the app developer who originally harvested the Facebook data, said…

“I think what Cambridge Analytica has tried to sell is magic and made claims this is incredibly accurate and it tells you everything there is to tell about you. But I think the reality is it’s not that. If you sit down and you really work through the statistics and you think what does a correlation of point three means, those claims quickly fall apart. And that’s something any person with a statistical background can go and do.”


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