Tag Archives: UK Politics

BBC Seat Calculator

Back in 2005, the BBC had a seat calculator which showed the predicted breakdown in the westminster election for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland – but not England. Given that this was a Westminster calculator, this was an oversight, and one I emailed them about at the time, receiving this response.

In 2005, I pointed out that “your excellent ’seats predictor’ has subdivisions of the UK offered. These are Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland.

Unless I’ve read it incorrectly, the subdivisions all relate to the Westminster vote and not to the Scottish parliament, welsh assembly etc. Why is England not represented seperately as well in this case?”

You said that: “as in other areas of our election and general political coverage, decided to give priority to parts of the UK with a representative institution – Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, and of course the whole of the UK.

However, we have already decided we need to review this decision should we use the seat calculator again”

I do hope that you reintroduce the seat calculator in 2010, and that you’re good to your word regarding revisiting this decision.

Based on where people are putting their money, we’re currently looking at a Tory majority

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Have the Election already!

There was speculation about Elections since Brown took over from Blair. At that time, he probably would have won. However, Brown had cold feet, and Cameron played a blinder in encouraging this – and Brown did not go to the country.

Hindsight is a wonderful thing

I for one am getting heartily sick of this phony election campaign. We’ve been on an election footing since 2007, and it’s getting old.

Parliament expires on May 10th, which would mean the latest date for an election is June 3rd. Parliament has never been allowed to expire, at least in modern times – to leave things that long would be a real sign of weakness from Brown. Local elections take place on May 6th, so that’s the favoured date – as it’d minimise the cost of the election (anything else would immediately open Brown up to accusations of putting party before country and wasting taxpayers money).

At the moment we’re in a bit of a ‘lame duck’ period. The current lot are on borrowed time – and using this time to push through things like the Digital Economy Bill (which has some very illiberal proposals, such as disconnection on suspicion, i.e. guilty until proven innocent, and forcing connection providers to monitor traffic).

All of the parties are avoiding going into full-on baby-kissing election mode, as to do so too soon would be to cause (even more) jadedness in the electorate.

This time around we’re going to have leadership ‘debates’. American style. Big deal. If you really want to impress, leaders, have a ‘question time’ style panel of members of the public. Don’t have rules banning audience reaction and so on. I would hope that the audiences at these ‘debates’ won’t be the quiet little sheep which the parties have agreed to. Yes, doing this is a risk – you may crash and burn, but you might excel. Having something totally controlled will guarantee mediocrity.

On top of all this, if, like most people, you live in a safe seat, your vote matters little. The relatively few floating voters in marginal seats have a big influence – at least we’re promised some voting reform…. just like in 1997. The Electoral Reform Society have a new blog which has just started focussing on electoral reform in this election and beyond.

Here’s a timetable for the election (written back in November, it may change).

I just want this election done and dusted. It’s old already.

Whilst I’m posting on political issues – this is worth a read, it’s a comparison of UKIP and BNP.

Taking Liberties

The British Library’s “Taking Liberties” exhibition opens tomorrow, and will be open until March. It is free, and should be well worth a visit. There is an interactive online tool which examines a lot of the issues

The curator has a website, here.

I previously wrote about this exhibition in August.

Combining this with the Royal Academy‘s Byzantium exhibition could make for a good day out in London.

More Data Loss

So, the Government has managed to lose a USB stick containing the details of tens of thousands of criminals.

We should not focus on the fact that this is the data of criminals – that will be of little concern to many – but instead look at what’s happened here in terms of data protection. Once again it has been possible to copy records en masse, save them to removable media unencrypted and walk out with them.

A picture of a USB Key

This time it was a USB key, but in the past it has been CD Roms. Discs have been lost containing the data of 4 million people, of 25 million people and there have been many other cases.

This does not breed confidence in the future security of the ID database – a massive bonanza for identity theft if it got into the wrong hands.

It simply should not be possible to export large amounts of data without a high clearance…. and such clearance should only be given to people who have been drilled until their ears bleed about safeguarding that data. In particular, if on usb, it is attached to a lanyard and doesn’t leave your neck until it is wiped. Even then, the data should not be on any removable media unless encrypted (and this should be automatic to prevent the human-error factor).

More to the point, if the data has to be moved from A to B, what is the problem with an encrypted ssh tunnel from one system straight to the other? What’s wrong with ‘dropping’ fields which are not needed at the receiving end before sending?

NO2ID - Stop ID cards and the database state

These data losses indicate a massive systemic failure in the design of government systems, a carelessness with the data with which they’re entrusted, and a laissez-faire attitude at the highest levels. Just as the loss of the child benefit discs was not the fault one one low-level civil servant, this should not be pinned on the unfortunate who dropped the usb stick (though they should know better). This should be viewed as a failure of design – people should not have been able to do this, even if they were trying to be malicious.

It’s just another case which demonstrates the flaws behind the concept of an ID card database, which if ever compromised would be the biggest boon to identity theft ever seen.