Wednesday, February 21, 2007

The white heat of the technological revolution

At prime minister's questions today, the Tory Edward Garnier (who has the honour to be my MP) asked Tony Blair the following:

In direct response to me during consideration of the Identity Cards Bill, the Minister for Policing, Security and Community Safety, the hon. Member for Harrow, East [Mr. McNulty] gave me and all of us on the Committee an undertaking that the police would not be permitted to trawl through the national identity register. Yesterday the Prime Minister ripped up that undertaking. Why?

And Blair replied:

I do not believe that we have gone back on any of the undertakings that we have given. What is extremely important, however, is that we have such a register, because not only will it help us to tackle crime, terrorism and illegal immigration, but an identity card scheme, with the new technology available— and the vast bulk of the cost will be spent on passports, anyway—will allow consumers to access better private sector services as well. The Tory opposition to ID cards is regressive, old-fashioned and out of date.

Those funny old Tories! So old-fashioned. So unlike New Labour.

Except that there is nothing modern about Blair and his inner circle. Here is what the BBC reported last year:

Mr Blair's former right hand man, Mr Campbell has also painted a picture of a computer-illiterate Downing Street machine.

"New Labour's so-called spin machine was reported to be carving out a new role for strategic communications in politics," he told a website in January.

"But the reality is the person directing that communications strategy was in the Dark Ages when it came to technology."

Mr Campbell said his aides would sift emails for him and type up handwritten replies.

"I should add that the prime minister is not much better," he added.

"He too is at heart a pen and paper man, the computer on his desk almost as idle as the one I used to have on mine."

Tony Blair is very excited by technology because it makes him sound modern, but he clearly understands little about it. He resembles a neutred male cat out in the alley on a summer's night. He knows that something exciting is going on, but he is not quite sure what it is.

"And if I turn this wheel the line goes across the page!"

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