The power of citizenship.

For the past few months much of the media coverage has been focused on the incompetency of the parliament to execute Brexit.  I say Parliament, for it is not just our incompetent government; but the opposition and machinations behind the scenes that are failing us.  Whilst I fervently disagree with Brexit, a greater concern is that those incompetent chiefs in place now will be the ones left running the show once the split is confirmed.

The UK does not have a written constitution, but has a political system that has been twisted and broken through the imposition of party politics above of a constituency based democracy.  Our machinery of government, the civil service, has been neutered through a ‘presidential imposition’ by Prime Ministers acting without the support or mandate of Parliament, and ministers articulating their points not from expert briefings, but from ideological dogma and ignorance.

When Amber Rudd articulated her position on encryption, stating that ‘real people’ didn’t need end-to-end encryption, we’ve found ourselves led by a home secretary who exhibits both with gusto.  I don’t think it’s any coincidence that cryptography is also at the core of the new wave of cryptocurrencies – itself a system that is growing up and able to challenge the power of the state.  A global store of economic value outside the direct control of any nation state, but available to all global citizens, is something that few will have anticipated coming into fruition.  Granted, the machinery that it runs across is dependent on nation states – but now that the concept has been birthed, many new revolutionary ideas will come from it.

I’ve written before about the mechanics of the state, namely the founder of the UK Police force Sir Robert Peel.  The relationship between the citizenry and the police has now developed far beyond his original vision.  I believe it is right that each citizen of the country is responsible for the welfare of their fellow citizens, their welfare and existence.  The recent tragedy at Grenfell Tower and the subsequent inspections of other buildings, have now revealed that many have also been fitted with flammable insulation or cladding.  Regulation should not have been relaxed; it should be in place to prevent such materials from being used; but it should also be on every individual who participated in the tender, responses, allocation and fitment of those materials to ensure the welfare of those living in those buildings.

One of the things that’s always bothered me as a technologist is the lack of training in ethics required to enter the field.  If it’s possible to do via a computer, then most of it will have been attempted.  This is far removed from the traditional scientific and engineering disciplines that have dedicated bodies setup for the assurance of an ethical standard for their profession.  With the ever increasing pace of technological innovation, the Government are failing to consider even the most basic of these challenges facing technology today.

Cambridge Analytics, the mercenaries responsible for both Brexit and Trump, may not be lauded by the technological community – but I dread to think how many copycat ventures have been setup to try and follow in their footsteps.  I’m not sure there are many out there can claim to understand the consequence of such a technological battle; nor the emotional and political division such war gaming may instigate.

Looking across the political spectrum, the tactics appear to be those of demeaning or attacking an opponent, rather than taking the time to understand the others’ viewpoint.  Whilst Brexit saddens me, I also understand that I’ve been lucky enough to benefit more from the union that many other Britons.  That said, my belief is that the vast majority of us have been positively affected by the union, and it should not be seen as a zero sum game, whereby my greater benefit causes my fellow citizens greater loss.

Whilst Brexit is the ultimate consequence, the root of the vote can be traced back to those who felt disenfranchised by being a smaller fish in a ever growing pond.  People that felt like their voices wasn’t being heard in Europe, so assume that by reducing the size of the state their voices would now be heard.

If the politicians are not capable of listening to the experts in their ears, why should we believe that they’ll listen to us?

The way to take back control is to reawaken our communities.  It’s to empower those within our communities that we want to represent us; to not select our representatives based on political party – but on who we know and trust.  In Lambeth, where I live, even at the council level, the People’s Audit have uncovered gross misconduct and widespread collusion and corruption.  That’s the place to start.

Go local; empower your community – and start looking our for each other as citizens.

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