Tag Archives: featured

Martin Horwood writes…The real issue about Trump, Facebook’s ‘data breach’, why The Observer missed the point and Liberals should care

The Observer‘s front page today lays into Facebook for a massive ‘data breach’ in which 50 million Americans’ data were harvested by the infamous Cambridge Analytica and used with great effect to target Trump messaging at US voters. They “built models to exploit what we knew about them and target their inner demons” their whistleblower Christopher Wylie is quoted as saying.  It was a powerful tool for a campaign based on fear and paranoia.  Little surprise then that Cambridge Analaytica is also being investigated by the Office of the Information Commissioner and by the Electoral Commission in the UK in connection with their work on the Brexit referendum.

But the main Observer story oddly misses the point. It focuses on how long it took Facebook to own up to the ‘breach’ and suspend Cambridge Analytica’s access to the service.  It describes the accessing of the data itself as “one of the tech giant’s biggest ever data breaches”.

But it wasn’t.  And that’s not the importance of this story.

Anyone can harvest data from the web.  I harvest it when I can’t remember someone’s birthday or their kids’ names.  The Lib Dems harvest it indirectly when they use targeted Facebook advertising.  My engagement team in a previous job harvested it using smart algorithms to find possible engagement targets, ironically, to promote better data, openness and transparency.  The point is that all this information is out there and – a point confusingly referred to in the Observer piece – platforms like Facebook don’t regard it as their data but their users’ (“it may be data about people who are on Facebook that they have gathered themselves, but it is not data that we have provided”).  Facebook’s suspension of CA appears to be because of technical breaches to their terms of use, particularly the sale of data to third parties.

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ALDC’s Local Elections appeal

Victor Chamberlain, standing as a candidate in the Borough and Bankside ward, Southwark Council in this May’s local elections, tells us why ALDC’s appeal needs your generous support.

The challenging set of elections taking place across the country on Thursday 3 May provide a fantastic opportunity to put the Liberal Democrats back on the map in local government.

As a candidate, I wanted to help promote ALDC’s Local Election Appeal, knowing first-hand how important this financial support is for teams fighting to win this May.


In Southwark, we’re up against a well organised Labour party who can call on more activists than we can. As a result, we need to do everything to ensure our supporters’ voices are heard and we know they’re far more likely to vote if they have a postal vote.

Most residents in my ward lead very busy lives and are rarely in when we call round to speak to them. And the majority live in blocks of flats that we struggle to gain access to.

This is where ALDC’s Local Election Appeal is helping to overcome these problems by targeting postal voters in key battleground wards across the country.


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Vince talks to Voice Part 3: A message of hope that Brexit can be stopped

As you know, I managed to grab 10 minutes with Vince, his wife Rachel and some delicious sandwiches just after his speech on Sunday.  You can also read Parts 1,  and 2

I asked him what he wanted to have accomplished by the time we gather in Brighton for Conference in September.

Well I think there are some very specific areas where good work has been initiated – learning accounts, medical technologies, taxation. that will be some meaty stuff to talk about.

But Brexit is going to be the big thing….

We will have a greater understanding by September of exactly where we are in the Brexit cycle. Hopefully the message of hope that this can be stopped will be clearer but even if it isn’t totally clear we will then have one month to stop it and October may be the crucial month so people need to be prepared that this is the time for the big push and to back up what’s happening in the party and at conference with stuff on the streets. That’s crucial.

We are the only party that is mobilising people to argue back with street campaigns. We need to build up the tempo on that working with other campaigning groups. We’ve already started that. It doesn’t stop at the local elections. It needs to keep going over the Summer as the key decisions will be made in the Autumn. I hope that people’s confidence that this is doable is fortified by some victories in the Spring. If we can get the Government defeated on the customs union, that’ll be a start. It’s not the end but it’s certainly the start.

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Vince talks to Voice Part 2 – The message to young people – I’ve got your backs

Another snippet from my chat with Vince on Sunday.

He talked a lot about young people in his speech, showing that the Liberal Democrats have a lot to offer the younger generation who stand to lose so much from Brexit. I observed that he seemed to be saying to young people: “I’ve got your backs.”

Exactly. That partly reflects the new membership in the party – as you know it’s doubled and most of the new members are young and they came into a party that’s relatively old. But the average is now lower than the Labour Party and the Conservatives, which is good.

We see that as positive. I was very struck with the polling data that says that 25-30% of young people are considering voting for us and there’s a much bigger majority amongst young people and it’s reinforced whenever I go round universities. Despite that there are some tricky issues for us at universities as you know, actually the reception is very good, lots of people with an open mind.

I think the Brexit issue is probably number one on their list of priorities and we are the only party that’s giving them what they want and thinking about their future. I’d say that for many of those, things like climate change and environment are way up there and we are the only one of the major parties with a strong green message.

One of the other things that polling showed was that Remain vote has huge subset hasn’t yet forgiven us for the coalition. How do we get over that?

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Vince talks to Voice Part 1: Open primaries

Twenty minutes after Vince finished speaking yesterday, I was sitting in a room with him,  his wife Rachel Smith eating delicious egg sandwiches.

We only had a few minutes to chat, but we covered a fair bit of ground.

I did the geeky party hack thing and started by asking him about his ideas for the party. I mean, he was talking about open primaries, wasn’t he, when he said this?

Our sister Liberal Party in Canada, under Justin Trudeau, leapt from third to first in a ‘first past the post’ system every bit as unforgiving as ours.

I have turned to them for advice on modernisation on how we can apply their successful model here.

The Canadian liberals engaged all their registered supporters – their voters – as well as their members in leadership elections and candidate selection.

They became a new party; a movement.

Building on our own traditions, we must address how we in the Liberal Democrats can become a movement for those who are alienated by the Conservatives and Labour.

He reckons it’s worth a try to connect with more people:

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Vince explains his ‘blue, white and pink’ remark

Vince Cable was on robust form this morning, being interviewed by John Humphrys on Radio 4’s Today programme. He commented on the Chancellor of the Exchequer’s statement that there is “light at the end of the tunnel” regarding the country’s deficit.

Vince acknowledged that the government is roughly in balance on its day-to-day spending. He said, however, that the government would be very foolish to assume that they have turned the corner and that there’s no need to worry about the country’s finances. He added that the government should take advantage of its low lending rate to invest in the economy.

Vince explained his speech in Southport yesterday. Humprhys focussed on this statement from Vince, referring to Brexit voters:

Too many were driven by nostalgia for a world where passports were blue, faces were white and the map was coloured imperial pink.

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Wera Hobhouse presents Bill to outlaw upskirting

Lib Dem MP for Bath, Wera Hobhouse, has introduced a Bill which would make upskirting illegal in England. It is high time that the disgusting practice of secretly taking a photo up a woman’s skirt without consent and, sometimes, publishing it on the internet,

A couple of weeks ago, Wera asked a Government Minister if the Government would legislate on this. The answer was reasonably positive, so we need to push the Government to support Wera’s Bill.  You would hope that nobody would try to defend the practice which has been illegal in Scotland for almost a decade.

From the Bath Chronicle:

Wera Hobhouse presented her private member’s bill to make the practice illegal in the wake of a public campaign calling for a change in the law.

If passed into law, her bill would make upskirting a criminal offence under the Sexual Offences Act 2003.

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Recent Comments

  • User AvatarSean Hyland 20th Mar - 11:59pm
    I agree much of the collapse of lib dem support can be laid at the door of a kickback against the coalition years. Be interesting...
  • User AvatarJoeB 20th Mar - 11:59pm
    David Raw, The last words that Timothy Evans was purported to have said to both his mother and sister were: ‘Christie done it’. Let's hope...
  • User AvatarRoland 20th Mar - 11:35pm
    @Fiona re turning 65. I agree the whole area of 'benefits' for the aged 60~70 pre-retirement group does need to be looked at, given the...
  • User AvatarRobert (Somerset) 20th Mar - 11:24pm
    Perhaps Sheila Gee can tell us if man of the people Nigel Farage retains a German spousal passport he no doubt qualified for through marriage...
  • User AvatarSheila Gee 20th Mar - 11:06pm
    @Nom de Plume “The LibDem vote share crashed to about 8% at the 2015 election. 57 to 8 seats. This was before the Brexit vote.”...
  • User AvatarCaron Lindsay 20th Mar - 9:51pm
    Mark, surely it's ok if they actually have decent values - and they have the profile to get noticed.