Chile vinceremos

Chile vinceremos

Congratulations to the people of Chile; Chile vinceremos? They have voted in a referendum to rewrite their Pinochet era constitution, reported here by Al Jazerra. Is this also a hope for many others? A new social constitution written by citizens.

Cristina Cifuentes, a Santiago-based political analyst, called Sunday’s results.

[a] big blow for the conservative parties … a new constitution was necessary to provide equitable access to healthcare, education and pensions systems.

Cristina Cifuentes
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Reeves on the EU

Rachel Reeves, Labour’s shadow spokesperson for the Cabinet Office, made a speech/webcast about Labour’s current Brexit policy, reviewed in Labour List, with the headline, ‘“We won’t be back in the EU”: Rachel Reeves sets out Labour’s Brexit policy’. It just raises the question, where did she get the mandate? It seems she believes that we have returned to the days when Labour’s policy emerged from the back pockets of the front bench spokespeople. This is not why I joined the Labour Party and to go from remain, to only leave if the terms are acceptable, to saying that the UK would not be back in the European Union under a Labour government, without even stating why the Tories deal and strategy is harmful, is shameful and gives evidence to those on the left who say that the people’s vote was merely a trojan horse to undermine the Corbyn project.

Her statement ignores, of course, freedom of movement, Erasmus, flight regulations, and the European Medical Agency and it all assumes that we get a trade deal. We can see the Tories, are not going to sign a reasonable deal and Labour should be putting our stake in the ground, otherwise any deal will seem a victory and even if shite, people will ask where we were.

This policy position will also test the theory that a pro-brexit promise will win more votes than it gains. It’ll go down like a ton of shit in a fan factory in Scotland and London. It must be remembered that Reeves has form for stretching Labour’s consensus, her time as shadow spokesperson on welfare include some disgraceful speeches and I have previously reported on her channelling of Enoch Powell. Giving her a second chance was a mistake. …

Lightening never strikes twice

Lightening never strikes twice

In my blogs on the Track & Trace failure [blog | linkedin], I make the throwaway comment that Govt. IT often fails repeatedly because no-one is accountable, nor punished and thus they fail to learn but in this case it’s not true; Dido Harding the CEO of the Track & Trace was CEO of Talk Talk when it was fined £ ½m for another data protection breach caused by another failure to in this case close down an application running on an out of date & unpatched version of MySQL, making it vulnerable to a SQL injection attack, one of the OWASP top 10 vulnerabilities.  How unlucky can you get? …

Excel and Track & Trace

Excel and Track & Trace

The UK’s world class “Track & Trace” application “lost” 16,000 cases for over a week, as reported in the Register. Plenty of people have decided to comment and so I thought I’d join in and posted my thoughts in a linkedin blog, although I start this post with a quote from the Register.

The howls of disbelieving, horrified laughter caused by the news of the latest pandemic data cock-up yesterday were well deserved.

16,000 cases lost – purportedly in a blunder involving CSV data, row limits, and an out-of-date Excel file format? In a multibillion-pound, “world-beating” contact-tracing system? Unnoticed for a week of rising infection? In a system known to be broken for months but still not fixed?

Ridicule and despair, those shagged-out nags of our Johnsonian apocalypse, once again trudged exhaustedly across the plaguelands of England.

Rupeet Goodwins, The Register – 6th Oct 2020

Much has been made of the fact that the “dashboard” seems to have been implemented in an old version of Excel which has significant element array limitations and as pointed out to me by the Register, significant calculation errors which may lead to error program logic processing. This article talks a bit about why such decisions might be made and also how to perform good architectural practice and good program deployment and thus what might have been missing. It’s unlikely that such a mistake won’t be repeated, the people at the top, have not been through the painful process of failing in this way and paid a price, unlike many businesses. Once again, we know how to do this properly, not doing so is a choice based on ignorance or greed.

Any organisation of size needs an IT architecture plan. This maximises the opportunity for systems interoperability, compliance measurement within the supply chain, future scalability and cost control of both acquisition and support. Most architectural plans will include a spreadsheet as a desktop/user tool. Excel is the obvious and most popular tool, but reasons for worry, are expressed in their usual robust style, in this article, “Excel Hell: It’s not just blame for pandemic pandemonium being spread between the sheets”, from the Register, who also argue that Excel has no role in regulatory compliance software. However, at times Excel Basic has been the most popular development language in the world, and today, it still encourages a [structured] data driven analysis  but it is poor for many to many relationships, graph semantics and list handling and MS are rebundling the tools, to charge more, for instance by issuing advanced functionality and new languages in Power BI. Using Excel is ubiquitous, and it fascinated me that this week, an article in efinacialcareers, bemoaned the lack of KDB & Q skills, identifying a lack of industry training as the cause because Universities won’t touch it because of the licencing costs, to be followed by a TES scoop about the end of the Union Learning Fund as the Govt. withdraws support, but just because it’s there, doesn’t mean you should use it.

Apart from architectural governance, the final piece of the jigsaw is the software development life cycle. A lot of effort has gone into understanding how to do this well with much written about requirements management of functional and non-functional qualities, testing of functional and non-functional qualities and release management. The processes of vendor and vulnerability management are also important parts of ensuring software does what’s needed safely.

Again, we, i.e. the industry know how to do this well, and even then there will be bugs. …

In a democracy, the police must obey the law

Another second reading abstention by Labour, this time on indemnifying police and secret police agents from criminal acts. It, the Covert Human Intelligence Sources Bill, has become known as the #spycops Bill. It was eloquently opposed by Zarah Sultana, who failed to mention that the remaining protection is the Human Rights Act, which the Tories have at times committed to repealing, but did include the second fatla flaw in that such otherwise illegal acts are to be authorised by senior officers in the agent's organisation. Much drama has been made of the potential for murder, torture and rape, but the line is that the police must obey the law, all of them. This Bill breaks that principle Here's Zarah (below/overleaf).....

The UK & War Crimes

The UK & War Crimes

The Socialist Campaign Group broke Labour's whip on the 2nd reading of the Overseas Operations (Service Personnel and Veterans) Bill 2019-21; the instruction was to abstain. The highlight reason for voting against the bill is that it decriminalises or more accurately makes it more difficult for prosecutions for criminal events undertaken by members of the armed forces while on active service overseas including allegations of torture, although not sexual assaults. Notoriously, three members of Labour's front bench were dismissed from these positions for voting against it. It would seem pretty black and white, but the decision is complicated by the 2nd Reading/3rd Reading issue, although with a Tory majority of 80, hoping for amendments in Committee is a long shot, but perhaps not in the Lords. This is further complicated by disagreements over the impact of text of the Bill and the intersection of International Humanitarian Law and International Human Rights Law. This article looks as the Bill, the International Laws it seeks to amend, the problems it seeks to solve, and the decision to insert the AG into any prosecution decisions. ...

Saving Jobs

Yesterday Rishi Sunak announced the next stage of support for the economy to see us through a coronavirus winter and mitigate some of the job destruction inherent within Brexit. It seems to be a short term working subsidy. It is described in the Guardian in an article entitled, “Covid scheme: UK government to cover 22% of worker pay for six months”. It requires employers to pay workers 55% wages for 33% hours. Below/overleaf, I also look at Richard Seymour and Rebecca Long Bailey's comments. ... ...

Where’s Labour on the future deal with the EU.

Where’s Labour on the future deal with the EU.

While most attention is on the Govt’s response to the pandemic, and while expecting a reimposition of the lockdown, the second part of the the triple whammy is the looming end of the Brexit Transition agreement. What are Labour doing? Certainly not making so much noise. Here’s the FT on Kier Starmer’s response, which it headlines as “Getting Brexit Done!” on the basis of his speech to the TUC. Labour’s front bench spokesperson on Brexit is Rachel Reeves, who now it seems doesn’t really want to speak about it. While Starmer seems keen to ensure a visibly effective performance in Parliament, which seems to be paying off in the polls, as Labour draws even at 40%, it requires the acquiescence of the press to break through and both Reeves and Starmer were outshone by Ed Miliband in opposing the 2nd reading of the Internal Market Bill. Too much of Labour’s parliamentary attack position is based on competence, the failure of the Tories to meet their own goals without even addressing the issues of cronyism and accountability or more importantly of a vision of how things could be better.

But then the Remain campaign has disappeared, (or the Guardian’s view if you prefer), giving some on Labour’s Left, the evidence they always wanted that the Remain campaign was an anti-corbyn trojan horse. Not for me! But Parliament has voted to allow the Govt. to negotiate the trade deals without asking Parliament to agree, and the Govt. refused to ask for a transition extension despite the CV19 pandemic. These are both opportunities missed.

If we get a deal, it’s going to be pretty shit.  …

10 Point Plans for Labour

10 Point Plans for Labour

In running for election as Leader of the Labour Party, Keir Starmer published a 10 point plan, which I have noted & mirrored on this web site. A couple of months later, Richard Burgon, writing in Tribune produced his own 10 point plan as a focus for left unity within the Labour Party. I produce them below/overleaf in a table of titles. Provided we 'don't try and read the tea leaves in the order, there's not a lot of difference! For those of us who didn't vote for him, this should give us hope that Labour's opposition and manifesto will be worthwhile, but those that voted for him because of his 10 pledges need to be articulate in reminding him of them. ... ...