Panopticon Creep: UK Edition

Once upon a time, London was the world’s most-surveilled city. This position has since been usurped by Chongqing, a city in the Sichuan province which boasts one hundred sixty-eight cameras per one thousand people. Perhaps upset over the loss of their title, Boris Johnson has decided it’s high time that the UK began compiling records of its citizens’ web traffic.

tl;dr: Here’s an executive summary based on my reading of the linked article.

  • Currently, the various parts of the government collect analytics on how people use their websites.
  • BoJo would like to combine all of this data, creating profiles of how each individual uses the whole government’s online offerings.
  • This is to be done ASAP and in secret. The rationale for this is mumble mumble Brexit.
  • This data will be “anonymized”, which is not particularly meaningful at this level of specificity. While an analyst armed with this database would not be able to find a person’s usage by searching for their name, the same analyst could easily derive a person’s name from their usage.

Drilling into some detail now:

Boris Johnson has secretly ordered the Cabinet Office to turn the government’s public internet service into a platform for “targeted and personalised information” to be gathered in the run-up to Brexit, BuzzFeed News has learned.

In a move that has alarmed Whitehall officials, the prime minister has instructed departments to share data they collect about usage of the GOV.UK portal so that it can feed into preparations for leaving the European Union at the end of next month.
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Friday Morning Open Thread: We Do What We Must

Holding good thoughts for those still in Dorian’s shadow! Per the Washington Post:

Hurricane Dorian spawned damaging tornadoes and flooded low-lying communities in the Carolinas on Thursday, in what officials hope will be the closing chapter of a storm that devastated the Bahamas and has panicked East Coast residents for the past 10 days.

The center of the storm, which weakened to a Category 2 on Thursday, crept northward just offshore for most of the day, sticking largely to its forecast track, as it delivered heavy rain and hurricane-force wind gusts to Charleston and Myrtle Beach in South Carolina. Ocean water poured over sand dunes in some communities, but officials cautioned it could take until Friday to assess the damage.

As it whipped up the coast, Dorian’s final blow was still aimed at North Carolina, and forecasters warned it could make landfall Friday near the Outer Banks. The trajectory was expected to produce what the National Hurricane Center called life-threatening storm surge in the Outer Banks, where four to seven feet of water could wash across the barrier island from two directions…

Even as officials warily eyed the possible effects of Dorian in the United States, federal officials announced Thursday that they are marshaling additional resources for the Bahamas, where the death toll continues to climb. The U.S. Agency for International Development announced it will send “shelter materials” for 35,000 people there…

Regarding a certain metaphorical disaster, this actually is the most plausible explanation I’ve seen so far…


(Mike Luckovich via

Crisis in The Commons: Johnson Loses His Majority As Brexit Consumes the United Kingdom

Boris Johnson has lost his majority in The House of Commons.

And this won’t be the last defection today.

Here’s the live feed from the House of Commons. Michael Gove is at the microphone now spewing his usual bullshit.

Here’s live coverage from Sky News:

Neither the BBC, nor ITV are running live feeds and coverage of what is going on. Or, rather, that can be embedded here.

As always, Carol Cadwaller is on top of this story!

Peter Jukes gets right to the core of the problem.

Of course Brexit isn’t the crime, it is the cover up!

And here’s some solid analysis from Lewis Goodall of SkyNews.

Here’s a link to my analysis the day after the Brexit vote. An excerpt:

The short course for strategy and policy is really quite quick and simple. To make policy one determines what your ideal objectives are, establish how much risk you are willing to assume to achieve them, and then either decide to attempt to achieve those objectives or a less than ideal, but still perfectly acceptable, but less risky alternative. Once this is done, in order to further minimize that risk and to ensure the maximum likelihood of success, you determine what ways and means you have, what additional ways and means you may need, how to bridge the gap between the two, and then you execute: applying your ways and means to achieve your ends. Finally, personalities matter and relationships matter. Congratulations! You now know more about strategy and policy than any elected or appointed official pushing for the Leave position that I saw on the BBC News coverage of the Brexit vote from 8 PM EDT last night to 3 AM EDT this morning.

It didn’t matter if the official was from the Conservative Party or from the Labor Party or from the UK Independence Party. They knew what the ends they wanted to achieve – leave the EU on terms negotiated to be the most favorable to Britain, but that was it. None of them expressed any real idea of how to achieve this beyond Vote for Leave, Article 50 now or later, return of sovereignty, and a better future for Britain. I don’t mean to make light of what happened or what anyone tuning in witnessed. A number of these ladies and gentlemen were quite articulate, had a clear grasp of how the Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty process worked, and in some cases actually were quite aware that the real issues were poor outcomes for average, and often rural/small town/village British people that resulted from the failures of British government and governance, not because of anything specifically involving the EU.

The pro Brexit vote demonstrates the failure of elected and appointed officials who do not have a firm grasp of policy, strategy, and their potential effects – positive and negative. It is quite ironic that a successful referendum campaign partially based on anger at elites, notables, and experts to run things effectively has shown that the elites, notables, and experts running the Vote Leave movement and campaign do indeed not have the foggiest idea of how to run things effectively. Nothing says “I understand and empathize” like a Vote Leave Tory Member of Parliament, who graduated from public school and the Oxbridge system and has been an MP for his entire professional career, explaining to BBC anchors that the average British person is fed up with the failures of the elites and the experts running Britain and that is why the country must leave the EU.

The chaos seen today clearly demonstrates the failure of strategy and policy among the Vote Leave campaign leadership. We can clearly see that they don’t really have any ways and means to achieve their stated end: a negotiated departure from the EU that provides Britain with the best possible terms. Nor do they have any idea what they should be. They have destroyed their relationships with the EU leadership who want the separation done immediately and are in no mood to bargain, let alone allow Britain off the hook easy. And they have no leverage with the EU as a result. Johnson, Gove, Stuart, Farage, and others are now the dog that caught the Vauxhall. Unfortunately they clearly have no idea what to do with it.

And here’s a live shot of Brexit in action:

Rule Britannia, Britannia rule a bunch of small towns in the middle of England where the population is old, on government assistance, white, and angry.

Open thread!



Thanks, once more, to commentor Tony Jay:

Rum doings on this side of the Atlantic, as the race to succeed Theresa May (the only time you’ll see those three words strung together in any sentence format) as supreme leader of the Conservative Party and (possibly, probably, maybe not, we’ll see how things shake out) Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, descended into ugly levels of sleezy farce. Last week the final round of votes by Conservative Members of Parliament saw unpalatable class-war stereotype Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson sail into the final heat with almost three times as many votes as his nearest rival, Foreign Secretary Jeremy ‘The Big C’ Hunt, much to the chagrin of Johnson’s erstwhile friend and humanoid mole-creature Michael Gove, who had been two votes ahead of Hunt in the previous round and already prepping the release of numerous ‘anonymous’ leaks from his period working with Johnson on the (Lying Like Bastards for) Leave side of the 2016 referendum campaign to discombobulate the owl-faced Heir Presumptive when news of his third place finish (and automatic expulsion from the leadership race) came splatting down like a hammer made of bad faith and broken dreams. Suspicions abounded that Johnson supporters had been sneakily organised to artificially boost Hunt’s tally and ensure that Gove paid the price for back-stabbing Eton’s Shame on the eve of the last leadership election three years ago, but the scandal didn’t gain much traction because, well, what’s wrong with a bit of tactical voting? These are Tory MPs we’re talking about, it’s hardly the worst thing any of them have ever done, it’s probably not even the worst thing most of them did that day.

Speaking of which….

In the early hours of Friday morning neighbours of Johnson’s partner, Carrie Symonds, a former Head of Press for the Tory Party with whom he’s basically been living since leaving his wife and family (feel the quality of those ‘values’) were taking delivery of a fast-food order when they were disturbed by a veritable humdinger of a row taking place in Symonds’ flat, during which there was slamming and banging and things being broken, along with the sound of Symonds screaming at her other half to “Get off me!” and “Get out of my flat”, apparently furious with the infamously slobbish Johnson for spilling red wine on her couch and generally being a spoilt bastard who didn’t give a toss about domestic hygiene. Now, anyone worried that poor old Johnson might have inadvertently kowtowed to the feminazi agenda at this point will be happy to know that he gave as good as he got, demanding that Symonds calm down and leave his fucking laptop alone. (PronHub alert!!!) Upon hearing a loud scream and after going down on three separate occasions to knock on the door (no response) the neighbours called the police, who sent around a couple of vans full of armed bastards, but were soon heading back to the station after being assured that all was well and nobody was actually being choked or strangled or beaten to death with a bottle of Penfolds Grange, because, you know, posh Tories, white privilege and forelock tugging go together like cheese and toast in our neck of the woods.

This is where it gets all conspiratorial and familiar. The neighbour who called through the initial complaint had recorded some of the racket and contacted the Guardian to let them know that Boris had questions to answer. Attempts by the Guardian to confirm events with the Police ran into a bit of an Establishment roadblock, though, as the boys and girls in Blue denied any knowledge of the row, despite the Guardian having the address, time, incident reference and Police officer ID numbers. No, Sir. Nothing to report, Sir. Which is kind of against all of the rules laid down for handling Press enquiries. It wasn’t until they provided the licence plates and vehicle numbers of the vans involved and, I don’t know, the star sign and maiden name of whoever was handling dispatch duty that morning, that suddenly the dam broke and confirmation was received. How massively not suspicious in the least, eh?
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Guest Post: “Slinker, Trailer, Snorter, Failure, Rich Man/Poor Man, MI6? Meep!”

Many thanks to BJ Approved Foreign Correspondent Tony Jay:

BJ International Presents: The Brexit Follies
An Alan Smithee Production

I think it was the late, great Glenn Medeiros who said, in reference to his third manager and fifth confirmed victim (WWE wrestler and pianoforte aficionado Danny “Hot Grease” Famagusta) “He couldn’t sing and he couldn’t dance, but if you didn’t want him applying a Figure-Four leg-lock and rabbit-punching your liver into patè, lying about it was always the smart move”. Wise words, Glenn, wise words. I’m sure that if he were here with us today and even passingly interested in the slow, grinding travesty that is this season of ‘Britain’s Got No Political Talent Whatsoever’, there’s no doubt that Mister Medeiros would look at the remaining Tory Leadership candidates and see the very clear analogy I’m drawing. Then he’d nod and he’d walk away, slowly, along the beach, sand between his toes, hair glistening, quietly satisfied.

Yes, it’s week two of the Contest of Charlatans and this evening the four remaining losers, plus Boris Johnson’s knuckle-cracking spokespeople, will once again ask the Parliamentary Party to throw their support behind their clear-sighted and not-at-all-ludicrous candidacies for the job of fucking up Brexit and everything associated with it in order to drag the corpse of the Tory Party a little bit further towards an inevitable General Election. Delusional optimism and naked ambition aside…. well, there’s not much left to cover, but we’ll try and drag this out for a few more pages so I don’t have to do any – actual – work before going home.
When we left them last week, the candidates had just emerged from the first round of Conservative MP’s votes and the ones who had cracked the magical 16+1 qualification score were:

Boris Johnson -114
Jeremy Hunt – 43
Michael Gove – 37
Dominic Raab – 27
Sajid Javid – 23
Matt Hancock – 20
Rory Stewart – 19

Andrea “Gaffetacular” Leadsom, Mark “Who? Why? Who again?” Harper and Esther “Black-Sheep of House Bolton” McVey were all dumped out for lack of popularity (look at my oh so very shocked face why don’t you), with Health Secretary and Yoof Outreach maestro Matt “Door” Hancock dropping out under his own steam a day later citing the need for a leader who could unite the Tory Party around the issues that Hancock felt were most important. Considering that Hancock had based his campaign on avoiding the self-inflicted mutilation of a No-Deal Brexit you would, of course, expect that he’d throw his support behind Stewart, or maybe to be more practical, Gove or Javid, but you would, of course, be quite wrong. Hancock immediately declared himself loyal to Boris the Brexiteer, proof, if needed, that the only thing more duplicitous and self-serving than a ‘One Nation Tory’ is a ‘One Nation Tory’ in a hurry to nail down his Cabinet job before the real fighting starts. Hancock’s 20 supporters were now up for grabs, and since very few of them would be expected to back one of the Brexit Uber Alles crowd they could provide a less overtly extremist candidate with some of the 33 votes needed to get through the next round of voting.
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