As we all return to work after the Bank Holiday weekend, the big issues I’ve picked for today’s Daily View are about governance: specifically, how the British state should relate to its citizens or how the world should govern the nuclear ambitions of a rogue state.
2 Big Stories
David Cameron is making a bid for reformist credentials with a wide-ranging speech on democratic accountability and the nature of politics and the state. Previewed in The Guardian, his remarks later today thoughtfully ponder ‘the post-bureaucratic age’ and try to appropriate liberal principles:
The Tory leader, who has in the past week ended the parliamentary careers of a series of senior Conservative MPs who made “wrong” expenses claims, writes: “I believe the central objective of the new politics we need should be a massive, sweeping, radical redistribution of power. From the state to citizens; from the government to parliament; from Whitehall to communities. From the EU to Britain; from judges to the people; from bureaucracy to democracy. Through decentralisation, transparency and accountability we must take power away from the political elite and hand it to the man and woman in the street.”
Fine aspirations. (Excepting the knee-jerk rejection of cooperation on supra-national issues; has noone told you, Dave, we’re “stronger together, poorer apart”?). But can Cameron really bring his party of authoritarians on this expedition into liberalism when they get into power? Given what we know about the men and women who’ll make up his parliamentary majority, I think not.
Meanwhile, in world news, the UN Security Council has unanimously condemned North Korea’s second and latest nuclear test:
The provocative test sparked global condemnation, even from China, the reclusive communist state’s only ally. Yet it was clear that the West was powerless to halt the nuclear programme.
President Obama said that the test was a great threat to the peace and security of the world and a blatant violation of international law. Gordon Brown called it erroneous, misguided and a danger to the world. Ban Ki Moon, the UN Secretary General and a South Korean, said that he was deeply disturbed by the detonation, which was detected by US scientists as a magnitude 4.7 earthquake.
2 Must-read Blog Posts
The New Zealand experience showed it takes a lot of time and effort to engage with a bemused public, who are more concerned with other things, and explain the merits of the alternative voting systems. The New Zealand reformers’ final victory in 1993 was the result of many years’ campaigning by a broad cross-section of political and community groups. The anti-change forces hit back, and started to close the gap in the final months before the vote. There’s no reason to suppose that this country would be any different.
Meanwhile, the Himmelgarten Cafe served us a large platter of database peril. As Costigan Quist notes, the government has been losing sensitive personal information faster than an MP’s moat gets silted up:
Remember that the Government has spent the last few years trying to set up a “Spine”: a big national database to contain all our health records, accessible by medical staff across the country. The flimsy justification for this has always been that you or I can go into any hospital in the country and staff will easily get hold of our notes… The problem is, that sort of thing doesn’t happen very often. In reality, nearly all visits are to local hospitals and our normal GP. The small number of cases where it does happen seems out of all proportion to the huge cost and complexity of maintaining a national database of medical records.
From rogue MPs to rogue states and roguish voting systems to rogue data. It’s funny what’s in vogue.