Philobiblon: The end of the Blairs?

Friday, March 17, 2006

The end of the Blairs?

Tony Blair is looking more frazzled and fragile by the day, but it is Sir Ian, who really, surely can't last much longer. The Metropolitan Police Commission is now facing questioning under caution over the shooting by his officers of the Jean Charles de Menezes, the innocent electrician who was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Si Ian reacted at the time as though this was a minor unfortunate incident, as though the two-year-old hadn't made it to the pottie on time. Since then he's demonstrated further his sheer cloddishness (comments on the Soham murders) and, again, his total disrespect - indeed seemingly lack of awareness of the existence of - basic human rights, such as privacy, by secretly taping conversations with his superiors.

But this might, hopefully, be the final straw to get rid of a dangerously incompetent man: he has two defences - he didn't know what was going on in his own force, or he lied about it. Good choice.

BTW: for non-British readers, these Blairs aren't related, even though it sometimes looks like they are.
Try to always find some good news, and today's is a campaign against forced marriages.

THE actress and writer Meera Syal attacked forced marriages yesterday and told parents to stop sacrificing their children’s lives. Syal, star of The Kumars at No 42, joined a government campaign that warns parents that they face prosecution if they force their children into marriage.
Television commercials and press advertisements will spearhead a drive to educate them about the difference between arranged and forced marriages. They will feature two hands wearing wedding rings chained together.


Blogger clanger said...

Be fair Natalie-any sane person would secretly tape their meetings with senior police officers and politicians as an insurance policy, neither being in any way trustworthy.

Although the Soham case needed coverage in the hope that the girls would be found alive, there was a distasteful aspect to the media circus surrounding it, and to much of the reporting of it, as is usual whenever the media are involved.

The British media do not do sensitivity, and go into a lurid feeding frenzy with incidents like this, but I can't recall a journalist ever being sacked.

And lets not forget the day-to-day homophobia, racism, insensitivity, gender bias, lying, veiled encouragment to prejudice and violence, witch-hunts, photos and videos of injured victims without permission, knocking small children out the way to get photos, stealing family photos, using telephoto lenses to take snaps of people sunbathing, chasing people to their deaths in French underpasses, harrassing people to suicide, trial by media, setting up fake meetings with football managers, libel, slander, sneaking into royal palaces, on to planes with fake guns, knives, or fake bombs, and the general unpleasantness of the print and TV press pack on a day to day basis.

Amusing that the British love their insensitive TV cops and hate their insensitive real-life cops.

A bit of perspective perhaps?

Many readers may boycott products on ethical grounds. Clanger boycotts national newspapers on those same ethical grounds.

3/17/2006 11:54:00 am  
Blogger Natalie Bennett said...

I don't disagree with you about the media and Soham; in fact I don't even disagree with Blair's view. But the dumb way he said it ensured the focus was all on him, rather than the issue. And somehow the focus always seems to end up on him.

3/17/2006 06:36:00 pm  
Blogger clanger said...

Killing an innocent person because you have crap intelligence or trigger happy plods is not something to dismiss lightly. I'm not aware of his comments on Soham.

Operational duties and chatting to the media are two entirely different skills and should be tasked to different people.

This isn't the first time the police have shot the wrong person, or an unarmed person, and it is extremely worrying that they keep doing it.

However if you believe someone is a suicide bomber carrying a live bomb, then you really can only stop them from detonating it and killing others by shooting them without warning. But (obviously) you have to be 100% sure.

If Sir Ian has been telling porkies, I suspect he will be spending more time with his family some time soon.

At a senior level, the police has always been a rats-nest of political unpleasantness.

The major failing at Soham was a database one.

Britain has a load of local police forces, and whilst local policing can be a good thing, parochial policing within fiefdoms isn't.

Specifically, police data needs to be nationally held.

Every aspect of data management was done badly. Hopefully that will now change.

A good data management model has one single database across all official bodies (tax, DSS, immigration, policing, employment) ensuring data accuracy and coherence.

Civil liberties are maintained by the gating of data by access rights, not by data compartmentalisation.

Security is ensured using proprietary hardware, firmware, and secure tunnelling of data. Every access is logged. All data is mirrored. You can make it very difficult to hack without a *lot* of inside knowledge.

The final security barrier is to bring all IT development in-house.

Then you have a secure, effective system for managing data, whilst only permitting access according to whatever guidelines parliament imposes. A good system can also manage its own data according to the data protection act, so the users don't need to consider such issues.

What you don't do is let individual, disparate police authorities, and other branches of government outsource their IT to whomever offers them the lowest cost/lowest quality deal, on whatever PC systems are available cheaply, with your own personal protocols on data protection and data sharing.

There is no guarantee that Huntley wouldn't eventually have killed someone, but he simply wouldn't have got that job if the data was well managed. And good software would have flagged to social services that he had tried to get it, with his past, increasing his risk rating.

A lot of this happened the wrong way because of compulsory competitive tendering (one of the Thatcher regime's worst ideas) and the consequent outsourcing of IT contracts in an ad hoc manner.

Politicians always choose politically convenient solutions, rather than ones that actually work.

Whilst data management is boring as poo, it can mean the difference between life and death.

3/17/2006 10:01:00 pm  

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