Laurie Penny, from the Conservative Party conference a few weeks ago (that is to say, before the wheels fell off).
The unfortunate Toby Young, a living monument to the English Art of failing upwards, is on one of their panels, and seems distressed to be the most liberal person here by far, making an asinine but apparently genuine argument for academic freedom alongside some of the most racist speeches I’ve heard that weren’t improvised by thugs on a night bus. At one point, an old man next to me in the audience genuinely finds it necessary to comment that are “rather too many black players in Premier League football”. He turns out to be a former government minister.
What are the chances that we’ll see Boris Johnson back in 10 Downing Street in a week’s time?
(If the Tory membership were going to be given a vote, that’d be the way to bet.)
Marina Hyde: The good news: Johnson’s on the way out. The bad news: look who’s on the way in…
“Suella Braverman: Literally might as well run for leadership of Starfleet. Or Mensa.”
Harsh, but fair.
Spotted in the Guardian‘s letters, a reader gives the government credit where it’s due:
I am pleased to say I have spotted the first concrete evidence of the government putting its levelling-up agenda into action. While viewing information on my NHS app, I found the guide to foreign travel under Covid regulations, with the following very useful guidance: “Find out what you need to do … to take your pet dog, cat or ferret.”
The inclusion of ferrets in this list really does show that the government takes the interests of northerners into account in its policies, don’t you think? Unfortunately, there is no mention of what to do if you want to travel with your ferret down your trousers or up your jumper – but it’s early days, so no doubt they will learn the finer points of ferret-keeping as we go along.
Addingham, West Yorkshire
Boris Johnson will probably delegate the travel-with-a-ferret-down-your-trousers demonstration to Michael Gove.
The Good Law Project poses a simple question about how senior UK government ministers have used their personal email systems for official business in recent years:
[Why…] would Ministers choose to use personal accounts rather than official channels?
They seem to believe this is a loophole to avoid scrutiny. If politicians think they can evade oversight from the Courts or dodge Freedom of Information requests by using private email and Whatsapp, the question becomes: what have they got to hide?
If you think that’s a good question, you might want to consider donating to a fund to help the Good Law Project cover their potential costs in pressing the government for an answer.
[From a recent fundraising email]
This is an important case in the battle for accountability. But going up against the significant resources of the Government is expensive. In this case we have secured a cost-capping order which means if we lose, we will need to pay £125,000 for Government costs, as well as the costs of our own legal team. So far, we have managed to raise £76,000.
If you are in a position to do so, will you donate to the legal challenge?
Positively the only good thing about recent political developments in the UK is that they’re going to give Marina Hyde tons of new material:
[…] Arguably this morning’s most amusing development was Helen Grant resigning as Tory vice-chair to openly support Dominic Raab. Is this the same Dominic Raab who resigned in protest at a Brexit deal he himself negotiated as Brexit secretary, and who is bizarrely being talked up as a strong candidate? Righto. It was Swift (Jonathan) who warned: “It is the folly of too many to mistake the echo of a London coffee-house for the voice of the kingdom.” And it was Swift (Taylor) who said: “Darling I’m a nightmare dressed like a daydream.” I don’t want to come over all Mystic Meg, but I am seeing a nightmarish news story in Dominic Raab’s future that will curtail any bid in fairly short order. […]
Any non-UK readers wondering who Dominic Raab is should comfort themselves with the thought that three years ago none of us on this side of the Atlantic knew either, and three years from now he’ll be lucky to be the punchline in a “Name the Brexit Secretary who succeeded David Davis in the role?” quiz question. [note]The joke being the notion that anybody made a “success” of that particular job. Not a particularly good joke, I’ll grant you, but I don’t think anyone is going to find much about the current timeline funny once Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson has finished having a go at being Prime Minister and retired to spend more time writing fiction for the Daily Telegraph.[/note]
Beating LinkedIn: The Game is tricky, but not impossible. If you can believe this guy:
The general goal of LinkedIn (the game) is to find and connect with as many people on LinkedIn (the website) as possible, in order to secure vaguely defined social capital and potentially further one’s career, which allows the player to purchase consumer goods of gradually increasing quality. Like many games, it has dubious real-life utility. The site’s popularity and success, like that of many social networks, depends heavily on obfuscating this fact. This illusion of importance creates a sense of naive trust among its users. This makes it easy to exploit.
To novices, the game appears to be open-ended, and impossible to “beat” in any clearly defined sense. But it is, in fact, possible to win at LinkedIn. I have done so, and you can too, by following this short strategy guide. […]
This would be even funnier if I could just shake the premonition that a few years from now some high-flying junior minister in the DWP will announce that in the interests of reassuring hard-working taxpayers that their hard-earned money was being used to fund the most agile, modern and thoroughly digital solution to the problem of unemployment available, all claimants of Universal Credit would be required to provide evidence that they had registered with Microsoft’s LinkedIn service and that they had pursued at least 10 job opportunities a week. Even more importantly, Microsoft had kindly agreed to take up a contract to police this target and consequently a portion of existing DWP staff in Jobcentres would be transferring to the private sector to work in the new MSDWP service, which would also be taking over the contract to run the Universal Credit system.
Magically, this move would both allow the DWP to wash their hands of all responsibility for administrative cock-ups in Jobcentres, but also bring to an end all those boring National Audit Office reports that kept on rating the Universal Credit programme as risky and over budget.[note]Not because of Universal Credit would suddenly become a useful or helpful service or anything ridiculous like that. It’s just that, sadly, the commercial confidence clause the DWP had agreed in setting up of MSDWP would make it a criminal offence to reveal details of the working of Universal Credit to mere elected members of Parliament or their civil servants. Oh well, if that’s the price of doing modern business in the digital age then so be it.[/note] You might laugh, but give it a few years and some Ayn Rand-reading acolyte a decade or so out of university and a couple of years into his or her tenure as a Conservative member of Parliament will think this the best way to distance the government from the embarrassment of Universal Credit. The main problem will be finding someone within Microsoft both senior enough to agree a deal of that size and dumb enough to not recognise this for the hospital pass that it would be.
[Via The Tao of Mac]
Marina Hyde on the prospects we’ll all live happily ever after after tomorrow’s big event:
Looking at the formbook, then, marrying into the Windsors has frequently proved a reverse fairytale. It starts with you becoming a princess, and unravels from there. Tied ends are loosed, and afters are not ever happy. Even so, the weddings themselves are a type of restoration comedy, briefly and amusingly refreshing the view of the monarchy to something light, youthful and positive, and allowing many people to stave off the gathering realisation that the Queen is the last big-hitting link with the postwar consensus, and if she and Attenborough go in the same year we’ll have effectively lost the rights to our country to Sky.
Harsh, but fair.
The biggest problem facing Danny Dorling’s tongue-in-cheek proposal for Our Museum Future is surely that it leaves Britain’s prosperity dependent upon the continued interest of the rest of the world in what the British royal family gets up to and where they live. Possibly not a great bet.
If we work hard enough, we will win the global race to become the central tourist destination on planet earth. We are in the right time zone; we speak the right language, and no other languages; we have a captive, cheap, docile, servile labour force. We have a quaint currency with a picture of a member of the royal family on it, a souvenir in itself. And every year tourists will get more and more pounds for their dollar, euro, renminbi or rupee.