2009 nears its end and I for one won’t be sorry to see the back of it. There have been some very enjoyable high points including the Ashes win, the test win this morning, a wedding in my family and Phorm being all but forced out of the UK but overall 2009 will be a year I remember as a year in which far too many people lacked Clue, balls and ethics.
Some might accuse me of being a Grumpy Old Man. According to the series I am now in the age bracket for being a Grumpy so there may be some truth to the suggestion. My response to that is that I’m not grumpy, I’m a realist and some of what I see is less than pleasing, often lacking in Clue, ethics, common sense and the other attributes I used to expect from those in positions of power and influence. Now I just expect self centredness, obsession with protecting the vested interests and the status quo and control freakery trying to interfere in areas where the state has no right to.
I’m not the only one. Guy Aitchison has written his review of the year. It’s well worth reading; it highlights other areas where government and authorities have failed or fell victim to control freakery or halfwittedness.
Top of my list in lacking Clue and ethics is this New Labour “government”. Driven by a desire to intrude, monitor and control every aspect of UK citizens’ lives this quasi-Stalinist administration has massively increased the number of CCTV cameras in this country – I counted 174 of them on a journeyto and from Bromley, so I’d suggest the 300 figure which is often quoted may well be true for people living and working in cities like London and Birmingham – and increased the number of non-elected “officials” who can enter your home without judicial warrant or your permission.
Let’s not forget the complicity of this “government” in its dealings with BT and Phorm which failed to protect the privacy of thousands of internet users. The opposition parties hardly covered themselves in glory with the noble exceptions of Earl Northesk and Baroness Miller. Seeing the increasing backlash, Parliament put together an inquiry by the APComms Committee where people highlighted the mendaciousness of BT (I’m still waiting for Mike Galvin to get in touch by the way), the pathetic conduct of Phorm, the total lack of Clue which continues to be shown by the Metropolitan Police and the gutlessness shown by the ICO.
And while mentioning the Police, let’s not forget the continued harassment of photographers by the Police, who claim that anti-terrorism legislation gives them the right to do so. The death of Ian Tomlinson at the G20 summit and the publication of a number of videos showing Police conduct cast the spotlight on the Police yet again. Is it any wonder people don’t trust the Police any more? I don’t know who my local copper is. I’ve never seen him.
Let’s pop back to illegal use of DPI again. Kent Ertugrul of Phorm has yet to publish a qualified and verifiable legal opinion confirming that Phorm’s Webwise “product” does not breach UK and EU law. Two pieces of law we’re talking about are the UK RIPA legislation and the EU Privacy Regulations. Now Virgin Media (who I fired over a year ago) has decided to push ahead with its own DPI system using similar technology. It is not obvious why this is legal when knowledgeable legal argument (and the European Commission) says that Phorm’s Webwise is illegal. The Police haven’t got a clue about how to deal with breaches of RIPA which is one reason why BT and Phorm executives aren’t doing time right now.
I challenge Neil Berkett (Virgin Media CEO) in the same way I have Kent Ertugrul: publish a qualified verifiable legal opinion confirming that the CView system Virgin Media want to use does not breach UK and EU law.
Bad management continues to plague this country. I’m no fan of bad management but I am no fan of stupidity either. The “I don’t like what you’re doing so I’ll get everyone to strike” mentality that persists in some sectors belongs in the 1970s, not 2010. It wins no favours from those inconvenienced by such strikes. There is a middle ground which both sides should strive to reach. Stupidity and poor leadership on both sides is unforgivable.
While we’re on that subject I turn my attention to an issue which, I believe has been ongoing for several months. Very bad management on one side has been accompanied by utter gutlessness on the other. I always thought a union existed to try and protect its members from management stupidity. It seems that the NASUWT does not agree. One particular region’s lack of action in the face of truly incompetent management which has led to the loss to teaching of more than 20 experienced teachers has been quite amazing to behold. Not even a letter expressing concern. Nothing. In a situation that has been ongoing for several months! Amazing inaction and one I would not have accepted in my union rep days.
I think it’s fair to say that in a similar situation Bob Crow would have had his union on strike months ago. He wouldn’t have let continued halfwittedness and poor management go completely unaddressed.
Quite what NASUWT members are paying their union fees for I am unsure. I contend that the NASUWT has completely failed those members who have left and those who have stayed to try and ensure some quality of education despite the mindblowingly incompetent management.
If you are an NASUWT member I would seriously reconsider renewing your subscription. That money could be better spent elsewhere. Like a union that actually engages with management instead of allowing them to do whatever they want, however unethical and halfwitted it may be.
That, above all else, is what I will remember 2009 as being. The year that a major union completely lost its balls in the face of deliberate stupidity and poor management. Where does the fault lie? With the regional representative pursuing his own agenda rather than doing his job? With the regional representative’s direct superiors? The NASUWT needs to account for its spineless inaction which has failed the profession it claims to support.
I wish people reading this a happy and prosperous 2010. I hope and pray that the coming year will see a marked fall in the number of the half witted, incompetent, power obsessed, self-obsessed, mendacious and unpleasant types in positions of authority and influence.
Yes, I am talking about the New Labour “government”. 2009 is the year I started to get political because of New Labour’s control freakery and desire to intrude into every aspect of our lives. Like other repressive regimes they seek to spread fear, introduce masses of new offences to criminalise people and loathe those who speak their minds. I was delighted to be featured in one of Iain Dale’s Daley Dozen lists and to receive positive feedback about this blog from other quarters.
I ventured into satire with some degree of success. A satire I was writing didn’t come to pass because the things I was writing about actually happened before I finished the work! I was staggered to discover that the character of Sir Frederick Uckwitt-Tarde who I drafted before I started to engage politically actually exists in real life. At this rate it won’t be long before chefs get sent down for possession of knives…
Social Media (blogging, Twitter and the like) has helped the voice of the people be heard louder than ever. Trafigura, Phorm, Jan Moir and Simon Cowell (all of whom, to some degree or another could be said to reflect aspects of an unpleasant side of society) can testify to this. The MPs’ expenses story was a demonstration of the facts being uncovered by bloggers and then picked up by the mainstream media.
More and more we are seeing vested interests try to increase their reach to try and protect themselves. Already people have rejected the troughing MPs, whichever side of the house they come from. It is now time for people to reject this failing government and the neo-Stalinist state it stands for.
It is in our hands to ensure the final chapter of Life On Gordongrad ends in 2010.