We start episode 74 of the Small Data Forum podcast – or “1 AB” as Thomas christens it; the first after B*ris – in what many are calling “the era past peak podcast”.
Things haven’t worked out as well for our medium of choice as Spotify predicted and gambled, and that includes the platform’s not-so-conscious uncoupling from the Sussexes. But we – like the relentless grind of British politics – carry on regardless.
Thomas recalls the halcyon days when democracy meant the executive, legislature, and judiciary: three, interlocking, interdependent branches that worked with checks and balances, each branch (or arm) keeping the other in its proper place.
In banana republics (like the US and UK), this breaks down when – usually – the army takes over; what was termed Gleichschaltung or a system of coordination or total control in Nazi Germany. There have been more than shades of this under the Johnson and Trump regimes from 2016 onwards.
The terrible two
Sam surveys the carnage in British politics in the past month.
Since we three last met, the House of Commons Privileges Committee has published its findings into the Partygate affair. Getting wind of a pre-publication draft, Johnson clearly saw the writing was on the wall for his political career inside Westminster, pronounced the Committee (and the report) a “witch-hunt”, and resigned as an MP.
He’d have been out on his ear when the report was published – recommending a 90-day suspension, triggering a Recall Petition and a by-election in his Uxbridge constituency – so rather than be pushed, he jumped. His pre-publication Trumpian rhetoric added to the severity of the punishment, and yet still Johnson didn’t care.
Continue reading “Flushable, unflushable, or lingering round the U-bend?”
Back in the grey drizzle of a late March Friday morning in the UK, the three Podnosticators of the SmallDataForum convene to take another sideways look at ‘events, dear boy, events’ (something Harold Macmillan apparently never said).
For once, and in spite of recent headline-grabbing incidents, we give relatively short shrift to the unflushable turds of politics on either side of the Atlantic – though Sam briefly reminds us of the two blonde bombshell’s travails – one with the UK parliament’s privileges committee, the other with a Manhattan grand jury.
Perhaps by SDF 72, there will have been some flushing. Though we’re not holding our breath.
In the meantime, we focus our attention on three themes:
Continue reading “Trolley problems”
- The “sic transit gloria – quo vadis” of the Tory party
- The UK government’s WORLD LEADING AI plans
- The BBC post causa Gary Lineker
Inflation! Energy crisis! Cost of living! Inequality! Strikes! A government out of its depth and out of touch. And that’s just 1978 …
The latest episode of the SmallDataForum podcast opens with Thomas comparing the not-so-good old days of the Winter of Discontent in Britain with the dry bleak hot summer of 2022. Ah, 1978: when Margaret Thatcher was not yet Prime Minister, and the average CEO of a UK FTSE 100 company earned 11 times that of the average full-time worker (Equality Trust report).
Fast forward to today when political weathervane Mary Elizabeth Truss, erstwhile anti-monarchist Liberal Democrat, committed Remainer and serial Maggie cosplayer, is given a 95% chance to be the new Prime Minister by 5 September. The median CEO / worker ratio is now well above 100 to 1.
While wistfully recalling the rubbish heaps triggered by a general strike in ‘78/’79, Neville cites a long list of present societal afflictions that the UK’s “zombie government” is unable to address, from inflation to climate change impact, energy bills to raw sewage dumped on beaches. Now, as then, there is plenty of anger and a strong sense that we’ve had it, that enough is enough.
Continue reading “What happens when enough really is enough?”
Shoulda been in Spain!
Sporting a gardener’s tan from ongoing travails in his garden in Southern Spain, Thomas welcomes Sam and Neville to the first-ever Saturday recording of the Small Data Forum podcast.
We recorded on 9 April, two years to the day – as Neville points out – from when we were supposed to be on a weekend-long podcast recording sojourn to the self-same spot from which Thomas addresses us.
But then Covid happened. Indeed, were it not for the Covid-spike-enforced crew shortages for easyJet, Sam should have been with Thomas, but as The Guardian pointed out in that day’s paper, the country – and indeed the world – is suffering a semi-paralysis from a variant of Long Covid and is facing “a new pandemic of disruption”.
Continue reading “What a terrible shower!”