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UK'S shadow Internet minister says she is "particularly stupid" (shkspr.mobi)
115 points by edent on Nov 16, 2012 | hide | past | web | favorite | 103 comments



I do not find this surprising. I think a lot of MP's are somewhat unqualified for the role they do. I think it is scary that politicians are put in charge of thousands of employees and billion pound budgets without having to have any experience managing in the first place.

MP's are in charge of procurement. Take defense. If you have no experience procuring weapons / aircraft / whatever how do you know you are getting a good deal? Sure there are advisers and whatever but surely before you approve say a £10B pound submarine project you should know something about submarines, who builds them and what is a reasonable figure to pay?

I feel as well that one person cannot be responsible for such a broad range of topics like "Culture, Media, and Sport" which the Internet inevitably falls in to.

Regarding the point about "children are more technically aware than their parents" I think it is invalid. I think as a parent you need to involve yourself in your children's lives. You need to get up to speed with what is current. The excuse of "I'm old" or "I'm not hip / tech savvy / whatever" doesn't fly. It really isn't difficult to ask Google how to filter web content. Just as it wasn't difficult for me to phone up my TV provider and ask how I hide the adult channels on my TV.

You don't need to be a genius to work a computer. You just need to apply yourself a tiny little bit to do whatever it is you are trying to do.


Why do you care? You're in charge, and Contractor A is sending you to an informational seminar in Hawaii and Contractor B is only sending you to Italy.

Clearly Contractor A has the better proposal.


Except that the one in Italy comes with an envelope misplaced in your hotel room desk drawer.


> I think it is scary that politicians are put in charge of thousands of employees and billion pound budgets without having to have any experience managing in the first place.

This is what the civil service is for. In the UK the ministers set policy, while the permanent secretaries of the civil service carries out the day to day management of the department and is accountable for how the department spends money. This also includes ensuring the minister is suitably supported with research and advise to make decisions even on subjects they might not know very well.

Of course there's plenty of room for ministers to make stupid decisions by refusing to accept good advice and/or not having enough understanding to know when they receive bad advice, but the civil service is very much set up so that one function is to limit the damage a clueless politician will make.


You make the decision, but you base that decision on advice from impartial civil servants.

That's why it's important that civil servants are protected from unscrupulous dodgy MPs, and allowed to do the real work while the MP just signs off the contracts.

Most of the big decisions take much longer to go through than the MPs term in that position anyway.

> It really isn't difficult to ask Google how to filter web content.

For some people it is difficult. Google try making it as easy as possible. Filter sellers try making it as easy as possible (they have financial interest in doing so) and yet we know it's still hard.

> Just as it wasn't difficult for me to phone up my TV provider and ask how I hide the adult channels on my TV.

I tried this. The only way I could get an answer was to use their Usenet support group. Already they've prevented many people from getting a response. When I asked the question they said it was impossible to do so. All the channels are (I assume) subscription only, but they're in the menus.

> You don't need to be a genius to work a computer. You just need to apply yourself a tiny little bit to do whatever it is you are trying to do.

You don't need to be a genius to be a ballet dancer. You just need to apply yourself a tiny little bit to do whatever it is you are trying to do.


> You don't need to be a genius to be a ballet dancer. You just need to apply yourself a tiny little bit to do whatever it is you are trying to do.

Come on now, this is a false equivalency. It's far easier to use a computer than be a ballet dancer.


If you pretend to be a ballet dancer when you know nothing about ballet dancing, you're pretty freaking stupid.

When you are the country's authority on ballet dancing, you're grossly negligent and should be fed to mice.


Secretaries of State are not intended to be authorities on their respective subjects. The decisions they make are typically completely abstracted from any technical matters, and they have a wide range of expert opinion to call upon when necessary.

You could apply the same criticism to pretty much anyone in a managerial position.

I can guarantee you there are high-ranking executives in leading IT companies who have less practical knowledge of computing than the average 13-year-old.


This is probably my favorite comment of all time on the internet.


It's far easier for you to use a computer, because you have used computers.

Remember when user manuals used to tell people what "ctrl c" meant" ('Hold down the "control key, then press and release the c key, then release the control key') - or Microsoft's animation of ctrl-alt-del to login?

I used ballet dancing because people start young, with simple steps, and build up. This is kind of how computer users work. You might think that searching the web, selecting software, downloading and installing that software is easy and merely a sequence of simple steps. But that bit of ballet? That's just a sequence of steps strung together.


>> I used ballet because people start young

More than 75% of the British population has access to the Internet[1] today.

Less than 0.5% of the sampled population had participated in ballet at least once in the course of a year, in the most recent survey year I could find[2].

There are less similarities than there are differences in the computing / Internet to ballet comparison. I don't feel it's a useful argument.

1. http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/rel/rdit2/internet-access-quarterl...

2. http://www.culture.gov.uk/images/research/TP_Y5FiguresArts.x...


>impartial civil servants.

LOL


> Sure there are advisers and whatever but surely before you approve say a £10B pound submarine project you should know something about submarines, who builds them and what is a reasonable figure to pay?

I think you kind of answered yourself. No one can know everything about everything, that's what "advisers or whatever" are for. Their job is to educate the advised enough so that they can effectively make decisions, which is what they're (supposed to be) good at.


Aren't MPs are responsible for talking to potential contractors about the non-specifics of any contract. That is to say that they receive indirect favours from a number of potential contractors, and then decide on which contractor provided the best schmooze.

If there is a draw between contractors then whoever went to Eton with you shall win. If both contractors went to Eton, then whoever fagged for the other, automatically loses.


Telling technophobes to google "parental controls" and download one of the free options is a great way to get people infected with malware or scamware.


While that might not be the best of advice, I think the point is that people need to apply themselves. Just throwing up your hands and saying, "I don't understand," is shirking your responsibilities as a parent.

Ask around with friends and family. Surely someone knows a person that has reasonable technical competency. If they don't know the answer ask them to look for you, or hell pay them a little bit to spend some time researching for you.

If that fails, call up your local technology writer/reporter. I'm sure that if they don't already know of such things, it would make a great story/article for them to do (because surely there are a lot of other parents in the same boat as you).


I grew up with unfettered access to the Internet, (at least to the degree that 14.4kbps could be considered "unfettered") and look at me; I turned out fine... giggity.


Has the author considered that she's just playing devil's advocate?

I wish more people would consider the effect on clueless users when they implement something.

This bit, in particular:

>Jonny Shipp: If you talk to your Service Provider, they’ll help you, I think, mostly.

>Helen Goodman: How do you talk to them?

Is a valid point. Many people don't know who their internet provider is, nor how to talk to them. And, be honest here, how many people have had a useful experience when calling an ISP tech support?

She's trying to say that regular people cannot filter their own machines, and thus someone else (the government) needs to do it for them. But we should use that to say that she cannot understand why we cannot do it for them; that government sanctioned filtering will fail in many ways and be harmful; that the best thing to do is set up a quango and a help line and give away filtering software for PCs; (combine that with a malware scan and maybe the UK can reduce the ridiculous number of trijanned machines we have).

Having said all this, she actually is stupid and clueless, and in it's scary if she has any power over IT.


> She's trying to say that regular people cannot filter their own machines, and thus someone else (the government) needs to do it for them.

To me it also seems like she was trying to play devil's advocate here. But I'd say that this a a nonsensical way of arguing for filtering, because by pretending that you need to cater to arbitrarily stupid people, who apparently are completely unable to inform themselves or ask anyone for help, you could similarly make the point that everything and anything should be under strict government control.

I could just as well claim that the government should be in charge of managing my finances because, how am I supposed to know how to check my balance, or make sure that I have more income than expenses? In fact, don't confuse me with technical terms like bank account, income, expenses, subtraction and stuff!


> Many people don't know who their internet provider is

Shouldn't that be pretty simple to figure out? Even if "figuring it out" is along the lines of "I didn't know who 'Comcast' was, so I stopped paying them, and then my TV and internet shut off."


When you're paying a single provider for a phoneline/TV/Internet you might not think of them as your "Internet" provider.


> Has the author considered that she's just playing devil's advocate?

I assumed so when I read it. In fact TFA says

>> Fiona Mactaggart: The point that Helen is rather effectively illustrating

In other words another person in the room understood her in this way.

Is this perhaps a case of British understatement misinterpreted over the interwebs?


I'm assuming this conversation was being held in discussion about internet policy and potential legislation regarding web filtering. In such case, I must say what I often do:

It is dangerous and immoral for legislators to restrict freedom of choice on the assumption that all people are stupid.


>> for this best to work, particularly when children are more technically aware than their parents, they know how to get around better than mum and dad, that actually there has to be something which is really simple and which kind of delivers itself to your door

So basically, when children are smarter than us, we should invoke a higher power to keep'em in their place. Where did I hear that before...

(and this from the "progressive" party, you can imagine how bad the others can be. We're all doomed.)


Nice to see the authoritarian streak is still strong... eh?


Is it really authoritarian to prevent your children from seeing obscene content online?


Preventing your children from seeing obscene content is fine.

Deciding that other people are too stupid to be able to do this, and thus those other people need a government mandated filter at the ISP to filter adult content is perhaps a bit authoritarian.

Don't forget that UK mobile providers already filter adult content (T-Mobile have something called "Content lock" - you need to go to the shop with ID to prove age to have it switched off. O2 and the others have something similar.)

And the UK has the Internet Watch Foundation - a quango that has the power to request that ISPs filter some pages and images.

I don't know what the answer to protecting people from extreme imagery is, but I do know a government filter isn't it.


I guess we disagree then. I believe protecting children is partly the responsibility of the government, and the level of protection a child receives, shouldn't be dependent upon the technical proficiency of their parents.


> I believe protecting children is partly the responsibility of the government,

While this is noble, what happens when I as a parent disagree with what the government thinks my child needs to be protected from?

Another thing, where the hell are the parents in all of this? If the kid is young enough to need protection from many things on the internet, that same kid shouldn't be surfing the internet unsupervised!


The recommendation is for an opt-in filter that is easy to use for non tech-savvy parents.

The government aren't trying to enforce a filter, despite sensationalist journalism like this.


> Deciding that other people are too stupid to be able to do this, and thus those other people need a government mandated filter at the ISP to filter adult content is perhaps a bit authoritarian.

How is it 'authoritarian'? The motivation here is clearly to make it easy and therefore usable, rather than difficult and therefore unusable.

> I don't know what the answer to protecting people from extreme imagery is, but I do know a government filter isn't it.

How do you know that it isn't it? It seems to me that you've started from the axiom that it isn't it and come to no conclusions whatsoever.


Of course it is. You may think that the parent-child relationship is a place where authoritarianism is a very good idea, but that doesn't change the word used for the basic power structure involved.


In this context, the word authoritarian refers to government. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Authoritarianism.


Not at all, as long as you as the parent decides what can and can not be viewed by your children. What is authoritarian though is the government deciding that for you and imposing that nation wide.


This is not about the government imposing anything.

It's about the government providing tools for parents.

From the actual report: "The Panel believes that ISPs working together will deliver a more effective Opt-In system on a self-regulated basis "


This is an old argument but: most internet filters only filter for smut and not violence. I'd challenge the notion that using such a filter is at all an effective tool for filtering the obscene.


Clearly, it's not the intent - or at least, not the publically professed intent - that's the problem, but the notion that instead of downloading and installing filters, it's simpler to just turn off the internet.

It's like when using contraception is too difficult for some people - so let's outlaw non-procreational sex entirely.


Since when was the Labour Party "progressive"?


>when was the Labour Party "progressive"?

1918-1995

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clause_IV


Is nationalisation of the entire economy to state ownership really "progressive"? That clause has some pretty nasty overtones IMHO.


You may not be familiar with the history of nationalization in Britain. (Apologies if you are.) We used to have many nationalized industries. They didn't work very well, but their prices were cheap. The Tory party and the New Labour party privatized these industries, and now they work even less well, and also charge very high prices and make massive profits for the prime minister's friends while still relying on massive taxpayer subsidies. So for us in Britain a return to nationalization would indeed be progressive.


If we hadn't privatised industries like British Leyland, British Steel, etc etc etc, we would be bankrupt and in the grips of unions.

Maybe you weren't born when this was going on, but "prices were cheap" is idiotic. British leyland, British steel, etc etc were some of the most loss making, unproductive industries. If by "prices were cheap" you mean "were massively subsidized by the government so we were paying through the nose for them anyway", then agreed.

Look at the 1970s. Strikes. Union action. Rubbish piling up on the streets, and power cuts. That is what nationalization means.

Since privatization, how many times has your water supply or energy supply failed?

Even the worst privatization (British Rail) is arguably far better than it was before privatization.

One of Thatchers biggest achievements was to take on the millitant socialist unions, and she won. Overwhelmingly. She set us free from their grip.

"Profit" shouldn't be a dirty word. I love companies to make profits when they provide a good service. What I dislike are millitant unions striking for endless pay and pension increases, whilst at the same time providing a horrible service.

I hate to descend into politics, but you are presenting as "fact" what is actually a very biased and extreme left wing view, which thankfully is pretty outdated in the UK now.


>> If by "prices were cheap" you mean "were massively subsidized by the government so we were paying through the nose for them anyway"

Correction: higher-band taxpayers might have been paying through the nose. People paying less tax (i.e. the less well-off) were paying less.

>> Even the worst privatization (British Rail) is arguably far better than it was before privatization.

{{POV}}

Besides, the privatized UK rail network is shambolic when compared to (officially or de-facto) nationalized companies on the Continent.

>> One of Thatchers biggest achievements was to take on the millitant socialist unions, and she won. Overwhelmingly. She set us free from their grip.

{{POV}}

I hate to descend into politics, but you are presenting as "fact" what is actually a very biased and extreme right-wing view, which thankfully is getting less and less popular in the UK now.


> Correction: higher-band taxpayers might have been paying through the nose. People paying less tax (i.e. the less well-off) were paying less.

Ah yes, because as long as it's those nasty greedy rich people overpaying for inefficient state monopolies, that's fine?!!

If it's considered "extremely right-wing" to believe in the freedom for individuals to own property, free enterprise free market, and smaller government without state monopolies locking out competition, then I guess I'm a right wing extremist.


> "extremely right-wing" to believe in the freedom for individuals to own property

You are conflating removing "the freedom for individuals to own property" with state-run railways and healthcare? Seriously? You just lost all credibility with me.


If you nationalize everything, and run everything as a state owned monopoly, then individuals can no longer own companies.

That was the extreme position of the Labour party.

Obviously some things need to be state owned. I would say that health care, just like the police service would be one of them. Railways are debatable.


So clause 4 goes further than I thought: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clause_IV

But there are several positions here:

a) The actual behaviour of the UK Labour in most of the second half of the 20th century. i.e. Essential services nationalised, state players in strategic industries, and private enterprise for the rest. Wanting to nationalise the corner shop would be an extreme position.

b) The stated goals of clause 4.

c) State ownwership of all businesses. To see how this is different from b, I refer you to the abovelinked article.

d) removing "the freedom for individuals to own property" (your phrase). I have lots of property that isn't corporations. I'm sure you do too. People own houses, cars, laptops, clothes, teaspoons, etc.

to conflate b with d as you have done is a cartoonish strawman.


Socialism is just a path to Communism.


No it is not, and it is "extremely right-wing" to believe that. It's more moderate to believe that things are what they are, not what some scaremonger tells you they are going to turn into some day.

It may be true that the path to communism first goes to socialism. But ... so does the path to socialism. Democratic countries can and do become more and less socialistic over time, in effect debating how socialistic they want to be at the polling booth. They don't turn into communist dictatorships.

Do you for instance, believe that equality of marriage, allowing gay people to marry each other, will lead inevitably to marriages involving three people and a horse? Would you argue against equality of marriage on that basis? It's the same kind of illogic.


In Europe, it is.


Good god, if I am ever unelected dictator those that run the railways will be first against the wall - if we had given the British Rail the same level of subsidy the companies get now we'd have a much better rail system and without the ridiculous fares.

It's sad that the only way the government will put decent money into things is when it's owned by their friends so profits go straight into their pockets.


You have a poor memory if you think they work less well. Fancy going back to a six month wait for a telephone? Or seeing your garbage pile up in the street for months on end? Or buying a card with 33 faults on delivery (my dad had this)?

There are some things it doesn't make sense to privatise (NHS and the police come to mind) but general industry doesn't work when it is under the control of government.


British politics aside, its bothersome how quickly people forget the past.


And how history is often decided based on who shouts the loudest, rather than the actual facts.


>Is nationalisation of the entire economy to state ownership really "progressive"?

>pro·gres·sive /prəˈgresiv/ Noun: A person advocating or implementing social reform or new, liberal ideas.

Ok, that doesn't completely line up, but you get the idea. Progressive != "progress"


How is the state owning monopolies and locking out competition considered "liberal"?


There was an 'or' clause in the preceding definition.


> Since when was the Labour Party no longer "progressive"?

Since Blair.


She may be dumber than a brick but of all Internet communities I would expect HN to sympathize with the point she's making. Are we seriously entertaining the notion that googling for a piece of software then downloading it from some unknown source and installing on your computer with privileges to inspect network traffic is proper user experience just because we don't like the idea of an Internet filter?


" I can send an email, I can click onto Windows but the minute you talk about downloading software, my brain goes bzzzz"

I don't know much about the wider context. But, from reading the quotes, the point she is apparently trying to negate by playing dumb is that there are plenty of free, easy & available ways of filtering your own internet without government mandated censorship.

Her point is "People are too stupid to do this for themselves. We should just filter the internet for them." I'm not sympathetic to that point.

People can do it themselves (find and download software). They can ask the people who sold them their computer to do it. They can ask the people who sell them their internet to do it. They can walk into any computer shop and pay for help doing it. They can ask any remotely computer savvy friend to do it for them.

I wouldn't object to a government run helpline, in-school setup. Anything voluntary. Preferably sane. Preferably effective. Preferably not at ridiculous cost. But, I'll take voluntary.


That's not a problem for a government agency to solve, that's a problem for an OS vendor to solve with proper sandboxing and a clean permissions system.

Are you seriously arguing that it is acceptable to allow your government to censor and (even more) trivially monitor your internet connection for, well, any possible reason, let alone one in support of a policy that wouldn't be particularly effective even in the best case scenario at achieving its goal?


> Are you seriously arguing that it is acceptable to allow your government to censor and (even more) trivially monitor your internet connection for, well, any possible reason, let alone one in support of a policy that wouldn't be particularly effective even in the best case scenario at achieving its goal?

No, they aren't, and nowhere in their comment do they do this. This is a clear false dichotomy argument on your part.


Yes. Because if you don't have a filter you can download one, but if you have a filter built into your internet connection, you can't undownload it. You can't choose the competing solution.

How is that a good thing? How would it help the bottom line in the long run?


> you can't undownload it.

You can, however, call your ISP and tell them to turn it off, just like you would have told them to turn it on to start with when signing up to the service (you'd be given the choice whether to have a filtered connection or not when signing up).

The linked report also includes quotes that points out that there are substantial limitations in this type of filtering that means people might still want to choose other options - e.g. it's a single setting for the entire household, so if that is not appropriate for you, you still need to download separate filters, whether you ask for your connections to be filtered or unfiltered by default.


[citation needed] I have an impression that once government will mandate the filter it will be more or less mandatory. For the sake of children. And your ISP will not bother much with configuring it for you because it is no longer a selling point.


Everyone knows how to call up their ISP and ask for filtering to be turned on or off.

First step after buying a mobile phone is to call them up and get them to remove the stupid filtering.


It's a gross over-simplicication to say that the shadow minister for culture, media and sport is the "Internet Minister". Whilst the internet definitely comes under this department, in a year that this department was also responsible for delivering the Olympics, I don't know why I expect her be any more knowledgeable about the Internet than Archery.


Indeed - the submission headline is particularly stupid (in case it changes, right now it reads "UK's Internet Minister is particularly stupid, can't use the net".

It's not the fault of this MP, it's the fault of the entire government (both present and previous) for setting up a department with such a huge remit. The Minister for CMS is responsible for the arts (film, stage, fine art, etc), sport (public funding thereof, etc), and media (everything under the sun: radio, TV, printed media, electronic media, etc).

It is virtually impossible for whoever occupies the position to have mastery in every field he/she is responsible for. Terence Eden might think she's not very bright when it comes to the internet, but there's a lot of people in the arts despairing about both the incumbent and shadow CMS minister as well!

Fundamentally, this problem isn't going to go away for some time. It's the product of merging several different posts and positions in an attempt to reduce the civil service budget.


The "particularly stupid" description comes from Helen Goodman herself. I agree that the department is far too over reaching.


Oh, I know - I just did a double take, because for a minute I thought we actually had an internet minister. Government policy when it comes to all things digital is a total shambles, which is a real shame because on the one hand you have some parts of the civil service actively engaging with things like open data, open source, etc, and on the other you have the politicians being...well, politicians!


'Shadow Minister' means the official opposition's spokesperson on the topic represented by the real Minister. If Labour were to win in the next General Election the Labour Party leader would become the Prime Minister and may appoint a 'Shadow Minister' to the ministerial role they were shadowing or any other at their discretion.

A little UKism that might have been missed by some.


The internet is more important than archery.


It is not clear whether she is genuinely techno-challenged or was playing devil's advocate to see if these 'experts' could explain things in ordinary language. I hope the latter, I suspect the former.


I've met her - and heard her questions at an Internet conference - she is that stupid. See http://shkspr.mobi/blog/2012/10/the-eye-of-the-storm/


Isn't it a bit harsh to say she's stupid? Ignorance of a given field isn't a strong indicator of stupidity.


If that field is your day job it is either stupidity or lack of effort.

EDIT: Appears she is not an Internet Minister so I give her some benefit of doubt.


That reminds me of Poe's law: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Poe%27s_law

As she didn't state she was trying to look stupid on purpose, it's very possible it was genuine.


Regardless which it is, it's still dangerous. The argument is for doing something ineffective that damages everyone's freedom because some parents are stupider than their children.


As a minister it only matters that she is clever enough to take expert advice and run with that. She's there to represent us, it's unfair to ask her to have an in depth knowledge of any portfolio that she could possibly be given.

Having said that MPs, like the general population, seem to undervalue expert advice and value 'gut feeling'. This is especially true if their gut senses media controversy or 'giving the opposition a stick with which to beat them at the next election'.

While it would be nice to see a tech savvy person in such a position they may well not understand the social implications of policy (such as most people don't know how to search in the internet for a filter let alone understand what a filter is) and that would be equally painful to watch.


> As a minister it only matters that she is clever enough to take expert advice and run with that.

  Helen Goodman: But I don’t know how to download parental  
  controls. I can send an email, I can click onto Windows but 
  the minute you talk about downloading software, my brain
  goes bzzzz.
The problem is not that she does not have in-depth knowledge. The problem is that (assuming she is not trolling the vendor) she appears to have no knowledge at all. What is she going to do when two experts give her two opposing advices, roll a dice? Besides, if even a talk about "downloading software" makes her "brain go bzzz", I'm not confident she'd be able to tackle any sort of issue involving words with more than three syllables.


> As a minister it only matters that she is clever enough to take expert advice and run with that. She's there to represent us,

And the problem is, in matters of technology and privacy, they usually take (industry) expert advice and run with that, instead of representing us.


> it's unfair to ask her to have an in depth knowledge

Double clicking install.exe is now considered "in depth knowledge"


Where do you find the proper "install.exe" to use? How do you know it's the one you want? How do you set it up? How do you know it's not a crapware/malware/whatever? How do you know it's up and running? How do you prevent your children from disabling it? ...


I think the two that are discussing this with the MPs are taking the entirely wrong tactic. They are suggesting that child filtering and protection is not a problem on the internet as it stands today. They are, quite franky, completely wrong.

The problem they should talk about is the difficulties and serious pitfalls that the government will have to deal with if they actually want to filter and control the internet. This isn't something they can just flick a switch on. It will impact the freedoms of millions of their citizens. And all because a portion of todays parents are not interested in actively parenting, monitoring and educating their children (and themselves about the internet). I think that is rather sad.


Reminds me of Christine Albanel, former French Minister for Culture, talking about the "openoffice firewall". There is something fundamentally broken in our democracies, in that politicians are not appointed on the basis of skill/experience in a domain but on the basis of their importance within the party.

There are of course exceptions, but I observed that the less important a field is (and politicians view the Internet as NOT important), the more true this is.


Blatantly sensationalized headline, packed with 1 incorrect capitalization, 1 misleading ministry title, 1 misquote, and 1 completely made up false fact: #1 on HN.


Just in case anybody doesn't realise:

'Shadow Minister' means the official opposition's spokesperson on the topic represented by the real Minister. If Labour were to win in the next General Election the Labour Party leader would become the Prime Minister and may appoint a 'Shadow Minister' to the ministerial role they were shadowing or any other at their discretion.


You guys realize that the "shadow minister" of anything is not really in charge of that thing, right? A shadow minister is an opposition MP assigned to harass and criticize the real minister of whatever it is. IN US terms, making Paul Ryan the shadow Secretary of State would not actually put him in charge of US foreign affairs.


I think democracies suck - they are popularity and wheedling contests that put the charming or greasy folks in power and very rarely someone who is equipped to do their jobs.

Would love a meritocracy where people who campaign for posts must really satisfy some educational or excellence requirement.


I find it amusing that our general perception of politicians, and of their real efficacy is such that no one can seem to work out if she's really playing dumb or not. The fact that it seems entirely feasible that she could be, says quite a lot about our expectations.

Still, from the point of view of many public service departments, though I'm not sure about this one, a yes minister parrot is not necessarily a bad thing.


I think the author is missing the point. She's replying in a factitious manner to highlight how the majority of households aren't technically adept.


Its not supprising, concerning but there again in the UK we have just elected heads of UK police forces out of a pool of people who have no policing experience with a vote turn out below 20% in most cases.

Sad thing is this will only mean more playground insult opertunities.

But the fair point is that she admits her limitations, would it not be more concerning if there was somebody who did not know there limitations.


She's taking the position of someone who can't understand "use search then download". I think it is reasonable to say that if you are concerned about filtering, you need at least that level of competency to bring a computer into your home. Some tools require parental supervision and you are expected to know how to provide that supervision.


The thing is, what most of you seem to have forgotten, is her age. She's 54!! Her generation didn't grow up with personal computers. I know a lot of people in their 50's that don't know much about computers. Anyway, with her role, she obviously needs to know a few things about internet.


My father is 55 and is as adept as any non-programmer I've ever met.

Age is not an excuse for incuriosity.


This is how good old Law of Parkinson works. She is on top of her career. She has to be completely ignorant in order to be there.

Tony Blair has to learn this, he is too clever to be a PM. As advisor to President Nazarbayev he is positioned more properly.


Do you mean the Peter Principle? Parkinson's Law is "work will expand to fill the time allocated" or words to that effect.


This is why entrepreneurs (oh you don't like that word? ok then how about 'thought leaders') need to infiltrate and then disrupt the government.


Wow, talk about misquoting. She's clearly trying to illustrate a point by playing the part of a non-internet savvy parent.


I couldn't help but think of The Thick of It.


Ha beat me to it, and spot on.


As


Jewish ethnic nepotism.




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