Taking a break from housework yesterday I flicked through a few channels and found an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation being shown. The episode shown was “The Drumhead”, a story about a Starfleet admiral who sees everyone as consipirators and spread mistrust and paranoia anywhere and everywhere she goes. Because of her high rank very few people have the influence or authority to challenge her obsessions while many others fall under her spell. The witch hunt is only stopped once it became clear to a superior that she was zealously pursuing the investigation, in the absence of evidence, for personal reasons.
It struck me that there are a few similarities between the issue covered by this episode and the current political climate in the UK and how the Houses of Parliament are dealing with the Digital Economy Bill (link to Twitter search on the topic, some very relevant responses).
It’s already widely known that Sith Lord Mandelson now believes that internet users are all criminal scum who download pirated music, games, films, terrorist device plans and spread evil gossip and misinformation about this control freak government. He believes that the bedrock of British Law, the concept of innocent until proven guilty, should not apply to internet users such as you and me. Merely a whisper of an allegation should be enough to get sanctions taken against people. No trial, so no due legal process before a judge. That is what New Labour stands for.
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Michael Gove’s announcement of Conservative education policy has now got me seriously considering whether the Conservative party deserves the votes of me and my partner. Andrew Lansley’s “Let’s use Google for everyone’s health records” was at best ill-considered but Mr Gove’s proposals are a disgraceful example of soundbite politics which completely ignore reality.
Firstly it plays directly into Labour’s hands and their claims of “Tory toffs”.
Just because someone has a 2:1 degree (which I do) or higher doesn’t mean they will make a good teacher (I don’t think I would). Where is the evidence to prove this belief? I know some extremely intelligent people who (no disrespect intended) struggle to engage people in one to one conversations and who have no ability to engage groups of adults let alone children. Where is the evidence to prove claims that those with 2:2s or other qualifications lower than a 2:1 are poorer teachers? Alientating lots of people plays right into Labour’s hands.
The problems I am seeing teachers struggle with have nothing to do with having a first class degree. They have everything to do with incompetent leadership, unprofessional conduct, a complete lack of support for teaching staff and protecting vested interests. You get those kinds of behaviour from people of all education levels. You don’t need a degree to behave unprofessionally.
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Shadow Secretary of State for Justice Dominic Grieve QC MP has announced a list of proposals a future Conservative government would put into place to “reverse the rise of the Surveillance State”.
Sounds good but what are the facts behind the soundbites? More importantly what are the omissions behind the soundbites? What isn’t said is as important as what is. Specifically with reference to the Information Commissioner’s Office, a body which Mr Grieve wants to give more powers to.
Those who have followed the Phorm story will no doubt be aware that the ICO is complicit in allowing Phorm and BT to get away with their secret and illegal tests as any other government department. Perhaps even more so because it is not unreasonable to expect those charged with the guardianship of Data Protection legislation to have a decent understanding of such legislation.
Mr Grieve has failed to understand the Information Commissioner’s Office complicity. Perhaps he doesn’t know about it.
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