Shiny Happy People

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Kudos to Boris Johnson on becoming the next Prime Minister and leader of the Conservative party. I only hope that he can bring about the energy that our country so desperately needs at the moment. I still have very fond memories of the summer of 2012 and the wave of optimism that swept the country during the Olympics. I know this wasn’t entirely Mr Johnson’s doing, but he did play a part (along with his team).

I’m willing to give the benefit of the doubt to the warm weather, but the torrent of vitriol that has followed the announcement on the Guardian app is somewhat disappointing, if not unexpected. Even among my co-workers I heard very few exclamations of delight, and a whole lot of groaning. It’s all too easy to criticise, but I didn’t see any of them up there at the hustings or stepping in line behind Tom Watson to oust Jeremy Corbyn.

I’m no huge fan of Boris, but I do think we should at least give the guy a chance. I would like to see him prove his critics wrong, if only because if he does, I think the country will be a much better place. And if he fails, then quite frankly we’ll be just where we are now, wallowing in pity and clueless about how to resolve Brexit.

I’d much rather be in Boris’ shiny, happy, energised dreamland, and I don’t think it would take much to get there, just some good, solid leadership. Let’s hope he’s up to the task.

Fudge no more?

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And so the glorious fudging of Labour’s stance on Brexit appears to be coming to an end with Jeremy Corbyn’s letter to Labour Party members saying that, in essence they will oppose any deal that the Conservatives generate, but if they win an election, they will ‘renegotiate’ a new deal. Quite what they think they can renegotiate that Boris the next Conservative leader can’t that actually looks like properly leaving, I don’t know.

Mr Corbyn goes on to say that ‘whoever becomes the new Prime Minister should have the confidence to put their deal, or No Deal, back to the people in a public vote. In those circumstances, I want to make it clear that Labour would campaign for Remain against either No Deal or a Tory deal’.

He tries to placate leavers saying that ‘a customs union [and] a strong single market… is a sensible alternative’. Last time I looked, that was just being part of the EU, without any of the benefits of being a member, and I think most people know that. Presumably, they are banking on people to reject it in a second referendum, which by that point will be so ridiculously one sided as to not even be worth worrying about, the options being, 1) Remain and 2) Remain in a really daft way.

What’s more interesting is that the Labour leadership do, finally, seem to be bowing to pressure to go all-out remain (albeit in a clever way); the threat of the Lib Dems just becoming too much for them. While they fudge it (there had to be a bit!) by saying that they haven’t decided on their stance for any possible election, the wording is strong enough that it would be fairly hard to renege on this stance if there is, as is becoming more and more likely, a fairly sharpish snap election once Boris the new PM is in number 10.

I suspect Boris Johnson’s more hard-line stance will also be another factor in this, as well as the diminishing opportunities for Grieve and co. to try to stop a no-deal Brexit with today’s amendment not being selected again.

Not so Sweet Like Honey

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I’ve never had much time for Michael Gove. I’m still of the opinion that his actions in the last leadership contest, stitching Boris up as he did, was the catalyst that got us to where we are now with Brexit. (I realise that may be a little unfair, and the fact that 17.4 million people voted for Brexit in the first place also had a lot to do with it, but who was one of the leaders of the Leave campaign…)

Anyhow, now he appears to have gone one better. My son is just taking his GCSE exams, exams we parents have been warned from the outset would be much harder than the ones we sat, with no coursework to soften the blow. And whose bright idea was that? Our good friend Mr Gove.

So what an appalling time to confess to dabbling with class A drugs, just as thousands of stressed out kids are battling their way through new, tougher exams (with an incomprehensible marking system), and he’s swanning about looking to become PM. Admittedly, his experiments with cocaine appear to pre-date the plans to change GCSEs, but that hasn’t stopped a raft of humourous memes flying about the Internet.

If he does succeed, there will be a whole generation of people coming to voting age at the next scheduled election who will be less than impressed with the incumbent Prime Minister.

Me! Me! Me!

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And so begins the great race to find the next leader of the Conservative and Unionist Party. So far, so vacuous, with various levels of boswelox floating around as people announce their intentions to run for the post.

Several (well, the ones I’ve looked at anyway) have gone down the ‘we must leave without a deal’ route. My issue with this is there is no real explanation as to how they are going to talk round a government that is terrified of a future outside of the EU, has no belief in itself or the people of this country to pull it off, and has every intention of pulling some kind of Letwin/Cooper-esque move to get No Deal ‘taken off the table’ at the last moment (if not sooner) or just pull a vote of no confidence and go for an election.

Many have said that changing the Prime Minister won’t change anything, but I suspect removing Messrs Robbins and Barwell from the driving seats in number 10 will be a good start. A shuffle of the cabinet to more leave-minded person heading up the Treasury would also go some way to at least proving to the EU we’re vaguely serious about leaving on WTO terms. How anyone ever expected the EU to play ball with the old regime in charge, I have no idea. Perhaps now we can do some proper negotiations.

The EU do seem genuinely scared of Boris in charge, although so do half the population of the UK. I suspect (at least for the EU) it’s for similar reasons outlined above. They knew they were on to a good thing with Theresa May at the helm, with the setup she had around her.

So let’s see what the next few weeks of moving and shaking and general nonsense brings…

First up tonight, though, the EU referendum results!

Keep it simple

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With our penchant for maximising complexity, sometimes when someone truly cuts through the crap and comes up with something stunningly simple, it really makes you see the world in a completely different way.

I had such a moment this afternoon in, of all places on the day the Prime Minister announced her resignation, the Houses of Parliament. As a guest of cybersecurity experts, CNS, we enjoyed drinks and nibbles on the terrace overlooking the Thames, along with some short but interesting presentations from various clever people.

One that stood out for me was from Deep Secure, a company that has turned the whole idea of virus checking on it’s head. Rather than playing constant game of keeping up with all the clever types out there intent on causing tech trouble and making money from inflicting malware-related woes on people and businesses, Deep Secure have done something of a volte-face and gone in a completely different direction.

They realised that more often than not, the payloads for malware are Word/Excel files and PDFs. Rather than wait for people to be infected by a new piece of malware, have it reported and then some clever person work out how to detect it and deactivate it, they thought, well, the original content itself of the file is usually OK, so why not find a way to extract the bit that the person was expecting to receive, the content of the file, and create a clean file on the fly, stripping any nastiness that may be residing there.

Sounds simple, but it’s taken them 14 years to perfect the technology to the stage where it can take files and make clean files that match the original in terms of content in a quick and efficient way. Now they’ve done it, it seems the boffins at GCHQ and the NSA are very, very impressed.

I must admit, once the presentation had ended, my brain was whirring and I spent the next hour trying to reframe the my digital world into this new way of thinking. I didn’t draw any definite conclusions, but I had a good chat with Dan Turner, the CEO of Deep Secure afterwards. He was, quite understandably, very happy with the way things were going for the company. I think they have a very bright future.