Keeping paper voting: right policy, wrong reason

In six days, Britons will use stubby little pencils to put crosses next to people’s names on pieces of paper. In each of 650 areas, the person with the most crosses becomes a member of parliament. If more than half of those MPs come from one party, that party forms a government and its leader is prime minister. It’s easy to understand and trust.

If someone hacks your bank account, you will notice and will probably be able to get recompense. If someone hacks an election, you are unlikely to know unless your votes was published – which would rather undermine the concept of a secret ballot. Also, we can all understand people counting pieces of paper. Very few of us, including apparently many NHS organisations, can say likewise for computer security. Continue reading “Keeping paper voting: right policy, wrong reason”

For three metro mayors, it’s going to be all about the economy

Black circles show relative populations of each metro mayor city region; turnout and party of winner shown by coloured circle (added when result available)

  New metro mayor Turnout Population
West Midlands Andy Street, Conservative  26.3% 2.83m
Greater Manchester Andy Burnham, Labour  28.6% 2.76m
Liverpool City Region Steve Rotheram, Labour  25.9% 1.52m
West of England Tim Bowles, Conservative  29.3% 909,000
Peterborough and Cambridgeshire James Palmer,  Conservative  32.9% 841,000
Tees Valley Ben Houchen, Conservative  21% 667,000

Average turnout adjusted by population: 27%

The results are in from the six metro mayor votes held yesterday, with results and turnout mapped above. But as noted in yesterday’s post and map, the six city regions have a combined population of 9.53m compared with Greater London’s 8.67m, with their combined economies producing just 57% of the capital’s output. Continue reading “For three metro mayors, it’s going to be all about the economy”

Six new metro mayors’ economies worth just 57% of London’s

Relative economic outputs (coloured circles) and populations (black circles) of six metro mayor city regions, as well as Greater London

Today, people in six metropolitan areas with a total population of 9.53m are voting for  new metro mayors, more than Greater London’s 8.67m. But despite the elections covering many of provincial England’s biggest and richest cities, their combined economies generate just 57% of London’s. Continue reading “Six new metro mayors’ economies worth just 57% of London’s”

For organisations, Brexit means deal with it

Britain is a world-leader in genomics. When I heard George Freeman MP, the chair of the prime minister’s policy board, tell a conference that despite having voted Remain he thought Brexit could lead to a better regulatory framework for genomics, it sounded like a story. Computer Weekly published the resulting article last week.

UK organisations concerned with genomics didn’t seem to want to discuss it, however. Apart from a short statement from the Department of Health and Mr Freeman’s comments, I interviewed a specialist lawyer and Kari Stefansson, the founder of Icelandic genomics firm deCode Genetics, who suggested that public healthcare should only be available if patients participate in genomic research.

Organisations should be considering and talking about the opportunities Brexit brings, as well as working to mitigate its dangers. In public sector IT, some suppliers already serve the UK and other Anglophone countries such as Canada, Australia and New Zealand, given similar legal and political structures; new trade deals could help expand this. And if Brexit allows regulatory changes that boost genomic research, they are surely worth considering. Continue reading “For organisations, Brexit means deal with it”

It’s Facebook wot wins votes

The Facebook fake news fuss is a distraction compared with the company’s bigger impact on politics: its ability to micro-target advertising based on its detailed knowledge of its users. As I wrote earlier this month for The Register, Facebook has helped the Conservatives to win the 2015 general election, pro-Brexit campaigners to win the referendum and Donald Trump the US presidency.

Facebook uses the Tory victory in its marketing to other political campaigners. As far as I can see it isn’t yet boasting about its role in Brexit, which included Leave.EU using Facebook to target racists until it got caught out by the Remain campaign. Continue reading “It’s Facebook wot wins votes”