Tuesday, 7 February 2017

Anyone Know A Good Technical Writer?

I bet everyone reading this has worked on a project at work that turned into a giant disaster.  I've been starting to wonder if I'm working on one right now. This is how it typically proceeds. A tiny research project from a lone developer piques the interest of senior management. This could have all sorts of fantastical applications and even revolutionise product development itself. Naturally, they start to chip in with their differing views on its future direction. Let's speed this along a bit with a few extra people. One person becomes three. Colleagues from different teams start to hear about this project and its amazing potential. Everyone wants to be involved. Three people become eight. This is now a hot project with proposals for research papers, shared frameworks, products in all sorts of different fields, multiple code repositories. There are internal chat rooms devoted to this project, even time-consuming debates and pointless threads about its philosophical consequences. Eight people become twenty. Then thirty. Four separate business units are now contributing, there are layers of middle management, the CEO has taken a personal interest. This is peak project. How's that lone developer getting on? Oh yeah, he just found out that it isn't quite what he hoped but nobody is listening any more. On it trundles, month after month, a mini industry devoted to an idea that should have never proceeded beyond that lone developer. Group think founded on a wisp of an idea got the better of due process. How is that Government White Paper on leaving the EU? I know it's a bit late in the day but we ought to take a look.

If you thought the UK Government might reveal their plan then think again. The White Paper on the process for leaving the EU contains no details whatsoever. There is no plan, no attempt at solving imminent technical issues, no costings, no economic forecasts, no schedules. There is nothing at all in this paper that suggests the UK Government is making appropriate preparations to leave the EU.   There is plenty to suggest that they still don't understand the scope of the problem and have turned to empty campaign slogans to cover up the gaps in their knowledge. More worryingly, they assume that the interests of the UK Government exactly match those of the entire EU and rely on this to assert that very real problems will magically sort themselves out. I'm not even sure if I would describe this White Paper as idiotic or contemptuous. Could it be both? I guess it could.

This post is going to dissect that White Paper in all its glorious lack of detail.  It is quite a long post  so I recommend just picking a couple of sub-sections that catch your attention.  You'll get the gist soon enough. I've not included every possible topic, I'm afraid. I do take requests, though, so I'm open to suggestions for a follow-up post.   Enjoy. 

Nonsense


There are several instances of utter nonsense in the White Paper. In many cases, entire sentences stick out and aggressively poke me in the face. I wonder who wrote it and why did they write it and why did nobody pick up on these sentences and remove them before publication. I reckon I will have spent more time editing this post than the entirety of Whitehall managed before publishing their White Paper.

Let's start with a right old howler. I would imagine that everyone has already seen this but let's wheel it out one more time for a bit of fun.

Whilst Parliament has remained sovereign throughout our membership of the EU, it has not always felt like that.
Without the context of the last 12 months of verbiage from the Leave campaign this sentence might lead the reader to all sorts of wrong conclusions. It might, for example, lead the reader to the belief that leaving the EU is all to satisfy a nebulous feeling entirely out of step with reality. I do not believe this reflects the position of the UK Government. After all, they've collectively made far too many speeches about "sovereignty" and "bringing it back". The truth here is that the UK Government couldn't be bothered reading or correcting their own document, even when that document will form the backbone of the largest and most complex legislative overhaul of the last 50 years. Carelessness or contempt?
 At the third meeting in January, the Scottish Government presented its paper on Scotland’s Place in Europe and the Committee agreed to undertake bilateral official-level discussions on the Scottish Government proposals.
Ha ha ha ha. The proposals outlined in "Scotland’s Place in Europe" have already been rejected. In fact, they were rejected within hours of its publication. They've been subsequently rejected multiple times in the glacially slow passing of Brexit time, most recently by David Mundell in an interview with Gavin Brewer.  This is a lie.
The Great Repeal Bill will maintain the protections and standards that benefit workers.
Oh dear, this is a schoolboy category error. The Great Repeal Bill only concerns EU Regulations. Workers' rights, on the other hand, are overwhelmingly the concern of EU Directives and are already enshrined in domestic law. They might as well have written that stricter monitoring of driving instructors will ensure the protection of rare owls.
The extent of EU activity relevant to the UK can be demonstrated by the fact that 1,056 EU-related documents were deposited for parliamentary scrutiny in 2016.
This is a deliberate misrepresentation of the truth because it includes all sorts of EU publications on all sorts of areas of policy that have no bearing on the UK Government.  A fairer take on this is that the EU is a transparent organisation and keeps the UK abreast of its activity with timely communication. A more representative number would have included only Directives and Regulations.  Nobody, of course, knows what that number is, even though it might have formed a useful estimate of possible costs and savings arising from leaving the EU. Another missed opportunity.
There may be European programmes in which we might want to participate. If so, it is reasonable that we should make an appropriate contribution. But this will be a decision for the UK as we negotiate the new arrangements.
Right, so we may be contributing to the EU budget and we might be participating in organisations accountable to the European Parliament.  That's slightly interesting in itself but which ones?  We'll tell you later.  The point of this White Paper is that they tell us now.  Words like "may", "might", "appropriate", "commensurate" are all over this document.  What they're telling us is that they have a plan to work all this out at a much later date.  Yup, the plan is to make a plan.  If you're of a more conspiratorial bent you might think they just don't want to announce their proposals so they can keep it away from all those bothersome MPs in Parliament. I honestly don't know what to think.

 

Workers' Rights


The protection of workers' rights is so poorly detailed that I wonder why anyone bothered to include anything on it at all. What they've written is actually just embarrassing. We've already seen this category error:
The Great Repeal Bill will maintain the protections and standards that benefit workers.
so I won't comment on it any further. Not the best start but it turns out that is the most sense we'll be getting from them any time soon. They really don't know how to protect workers' rights and they're determined to let us know that fact.
As we convert the body of EU law into our domestic legislation, we will ensure the continued protection of workers’ rights. This will give certainty and continuity to employees and employers alike, creating stability in which the UK can grow and thrive.
The first sentence repeats the category error.  It then reasserts the intention to uphold rights, even though they are grasping at the wrong mechanism to do that. How do they actually intend to make this happen? No mention is made of this at all. That last part about "creating stability", for example, is no more than a campaign slogan. The stability is already there and is a direct consequence of the EU's efforts to protect workers' rights. Nothing is being "created" in any sense at all.   In fact, leaving the EU could only ever be described as a threat to the rights of workers. How do I know that? Well, the UK Government helpfully wrote it down elsewhere in a single sentence.
Once we have left the EU, Parliament (and, where appropriate, the devolved legislatures) will then be able to decide which elements of that law to keep, amend or repeal.
Oh dear, all those workers' rights can easily be amended by the Conservative majority in the House of Commons.   That, after all, is their intention. 


Phased Withdrawal


The White Paper makes several mentions of a phased withdrawal from the EU but without providing any details of how this might be achieved. How long will the phased withdrawal last? What will be the interim measures? Which areas of EU policy will be subject to a phased withdrawal?
Implementing any new immigration arrangements for EU nationals and the support they receive will be complex and Parliament will have an important role in considering these matters further. There may be a phased process of implementation to prepare for the new arrangements. This would give businesses and individuals enough time to plan and prepare for those new arrangements.
I don't know about anyone else but I reckon it is already too late to talk about the possibility of a phased implementation of new immigration arrangements. Businesses and individuals need to know right now. Does the UK Government have the intention for a phased withdrawal from the freedom of movement of people in the EU or not? The answer should be written somewhere in the White Paper but it's not. I would guess they haven't yet decided.
It is, however, in no one’s interests for there to be a cliff-edge for business or a threat to stability, as we change from our existing relationship to a new partnership with the EU. Instead, we want to have reached an agreement about our future partnership by the time the two year Article 50 process has concluded. From that point onwards, we believe a phased process of implementation, in which the UK, the EU institutions and Member States prepare for the new arrangements that will exist between us, will be in our mutual interest.
They can't decide on trade and they can't decide on immigration. Honestly, they can't decide on anything.   Are they just going to let the EU decide for them? 


Scotland


What does the White Paper have to say about Scotland? Nothing. That's right, nothing at all. I'll concede there was that bit about pretending to listen to the needs of the devolved parliaments but I've already dealt with that. Oh yeah, there's also some waffle about strengthening the Union but that is just a slogan in the introduction.

What could we have expected? Well, I would have expected some detail about the repatriation of EU powers to the devolved parliaments. The UK Government needs to plan for this right now. Time is short and there's a lot to be done. I can only assume there is no plan to repatriate powers to Scotland because they don't plan to repatriate powers to Scotland. If that isn't the case then there is simply no excuse for this lack of foresight. They can't even hide behind the argument that they don't want to show their hand because after repatriation these powers have nothing to do with the EU. This is an internal matter that has no bearing on the Article 50 negotiations.

Single Market


The White Paper does a slightly better job on the Single Market but only relative to the woeful attempt at outlining their strategy on other key areas of policy. As everyone expects, the UK Government intend to sign a Free Trade Agreement with the EEA. They manage, of course, to tie themselves up in knots trying to describe what they really want to achieve. What is wrong, for example, with the following sentence?
That agreement may take in elements of current Single Market arrangements in certain areas as it makes no sense to start again from scratch when the UK and the remaining Member States have adhered to the same rules for so many years. Such an arrangement would be on a fully reciprocal basis and in our mutual interests.
Phrases like "may take in", "elements of", and "certain areas" are so vague and meaningless that I wonder why anyone even bothered to write that sentence at all. It tells me nothing. This kind of "wait and see" hopefulness is to be found all over the White Paper. In order to get what you want you first have to work out what you want and then how to get it. I thought everyone knew that but it turns out it is a lesson in life not yet learned by David Davis.

What else is wrong with that sentence? Well, we're back to that confusion about sovereignty again. Adhering to the rules of the Single Market and its arrangements means exactly that. It means that we can't just make up our own rules and do what we want. It means we have to behave in a way that encourages reciprocity, we need to do everything required of the other members of the EEA. We want to retain the benefits of the Single Market and are happy to make positive noises about it but nobody really knows which of its obligations we will accept. I would have hoped for some detail on that here because it would quickly narrow down which components of the Single Market remain available. I would guess a number close to zero.

This sentence is actually really terrible so I'm going to bang on about it a little longer. I could have picked almost any sentence to bang on about but I picked that one and there's nothing I can do about it now. The UK Government are still proposing to cherry-pick the components of the Single Market that they find appealing, even thought they aren't able to specify what those areas might be or if they would be politically acceptable. The EU, on the other hand, has been very clear that Single Market membership is a binary choice. They've been utterly consistent on that point. All or nothing, in or out, fish or foul. Ok, fish or foul doesn't really work but you get the idea that the UK Government are guessing at those mutual interests. They are guessing that the interests of the UK are also the interests of all 27 EU nations and all 30 EEA nations. They are guessing that the EU will compromise on long-held principles echoed repeatedly all over Europe so that the UK can achieve an unspecified outcome with details to follow. Good luck with that.
We have an open mind on how we implement new customs arrangements with the EU and we will work with businesses and infrastructure providers to ensure those processes are as frictionless as possible, including through the use of digital technologies.
This is the politics of Rumpelstiltskin.  If we say his name out loud enough times, it will all magically take care of itself.  Digital technologies, indeed.  I could organise my sock drawer with higher efficiency if I had digital technologies.  Which ones?  You know, the digital ones. They've got digits in them, even though they're for feet.  I used to own a digital watch.  Maybe it had a setting for frictionless borders.  Someone should tell that to Theresa May.

Dispute Resolution


I was pleasantly surprised to learn that the UK Government finally understands that Free Trade Agreements require a legal mechanism to resolve disputes. Bravo! I'm going to give them some praise here because they do lay out all the options in a handy Appendix. These options include the Swiss model, the NAFTA model, the CETA model, as well as models involving representations to independent arbitration panels. It is certainly a wide spectrum of options. Some of these options require legislative solutions; some allow broken agreements to be traded for other broken agreements; some allow broken agreements to be traded for money; some are transparent; some might be described as furtive and secretive. If I want to find out how investor-state disputes are resolved I'll get myself a book on international trade and read it from cover to cover. Why are they telling me all this? Why aren't they telling me how they intend to resolve disputes with the EU? Wait, what's that you're saying? They haven't decided? No, that surely isn't the case.

International Trade


Here is everything the White Paper says about international trade.
The UK is proud of its long and successful history as a trading nation. As Chart 9.1 shows, the UK has seen steady growth in overall trade as a percentage of GDP in the entire post-war period.69 We have long been a strong supporter of global trade liberalisation and of the rules based system for trade. An international rules based system is crucial for underpinning free trade and to ward off protectionism.
That's yer lot on international trade. No more to be said, apparently. A definitive and timely statement on the topic, leaving no stone unturned. It's almost as though they asked the intern to write a section on international trade without first giving them a detailed brief. A lot of the White Paper reads like that: bizarre paragraphs on nothing much at all, short on detail, lacking precision or intent.  I don't get it.

WTO


If you've been following this blog the following will not be a surprise:

Our aim is to establish our schedules in a way that replicates as far as possible our current position as an EU Member State, thus creating a mutually beneficial, simple and inclusive outcome, so that the interests of the UK and other WTO members are protected.

Sort of makes you wonder why we're leaving.  What is the point, exactly?

Great Repeal Bill

 

Great news if you're getting bored reading this because nothing substantive at all is said about the Great Repeal Bill.  No costings, no schedules, no plans for the legal and technical challenges arising from bringing EU Regulations into domestic law. There is a lovely nostalgic section on the UK being a founding member of the European Space Agency but we'll be leaving that now, along with Euratom and every other technical agency under the auspices of the European Parliament.  Why even mention it?  So we know what we'll be missing? Bloody heck, what a mess.
The UK was a founding member of the European Space Agency, to which we recently committed €1.4 billion in cutting edge research and development over the next four years. The UK has also been a driving force behind European and international research on nuclear fusion.
Well, that was a  nice trip down memory lane for everyone concerned.  Remember the good old days when we were a driving force in international science collaborations?

If you're wondering why there isn't a section on science wonder no more because that little bit of nostalgia is the highlight.  Blah blah blah being in the EU was great for UK science and we thought it was great but now it's all over and we need to keep our own company from now on isn't life cruel sometimes it's a shame the old days were better blah blah blah.  There is nothing at all about the UK's plans for participation in EU science and technology projects.  Do you still want me to add a science section?  Alright, here it is.

Science

 

There is nothing at all about the UK's plans for participation in EU science and technology projects.
  

Conclusions


Some MPs were understandably unhappy that the Article 50 vote was scheduled before the White Paper.  I would guess they are a bit less unhappy now because it's not as though anything in the White Paper could ever have helped anybody make up their minds about the challenges involved in the Government's proposals for leaving the EU. Well, not in the way you might hope. Let's face it, this is not a very professional document, is it?  It reveals nothing of the UK Government's plans at all.  All it manages to reveal is that they are still woefully unprepared for the UK's imminent departure from the EU.  You can't use this document as a template for leaving the EU because it contains no relevant information whatsoever.  Are they just going to make it up as they go along?  I think they just might.

There's a deeper message in all of this about staffing quality and recruitment levels in the corridors of Whitehall, Parliament and Government.  I'll leave that for others to ponder because I only know about staffing on software development teams.  I do know that if I was to produce such an empty and vacuous proposal at my work it would be immediately rejected with prejudice. I wouldn't exactly get sacked or anything drastic like but they probably wouldn't ask me to write another.  The Governent's White Paper was much, much more important than any proposal I might make at work but they either couldn't be bothered or don't possess the basic skills required to make progress and then report on it. How do they get away with it?  Take one look at the Labour Party and there's your answer.

This can all be avoided by voting Yes in indyref2,

Terry

PS I left out Northern Ireland, crime, education, financial services.  These are all very, very short on detail but with less entertainment value.   Financial services, in particular, must surely be making urgent approaches to the Government for clarity.  This was the perfect opportunity to provide that clarity.  Another opportunity missed.

27 comments:

  1. It's a chunk of pointless, mostly meaningless, drivel which illustrates yet again that their is no coherent plan. Having a plan and telling us what it is would let the cat out of the bag - the big nasty mangy feline fact that the whole process is a massive case of delusional self-harm.

    No deals for Scotland will be countenanced, despite the likelyhood that we will end up with labour market and immigration policies to suit the middle England xenophobes when Scotland really needs more people of working age. Valuable people from other EU countries are leaving already, and others won't want to come.

    Ireland could possibly even go up in flames as the carefully constructed balance is destroyed by this Brexit madness.

    And all the UK government can produce is this pathetic excuse for a policy document, a piece of work which would have been failed and sent back for reworking if presented by a first year politics and economics student.

    Words fail me.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Michael Dougan from Liverpool Law Department said the White Paper was the worst Government document he has ever seen. I can't compare because I am new to all this but it struck me as a terrible and amateurish document. Full of pointless filler, non sequitirs, weird sentences, obviously never proof read.

      The quality of government thinking makes me quite angry, actually. They are going to get away with this. That makes me angrier still.


      It is all a massive mess.

      Delete
    2. I have spent far to much of my life reading government documents, from treasury command documents to assorted papers, green, white and shite.
      I agree with Mr Dougan. This is megashite.
      If we in in Scotland cannot, or will not, disassociate ourselves from this then we are, as Private Fraser said, Doomed.

      Delete
    3. The Scottish Government's report on keeping Scotland in the EEA stuck me as a much more professional document. It clearly laid out what was achievable but also what would be a significant challenge. It never tried to conflate the two. There was very little filler in it either and no bizarre sentences leapt off the page. It was what I expected a policy document to look like - lists of legal precedents, some risk assessment, very dry, and a little boring to read in full. Megashite is the perfect description of the UK's attempt. I don't understand how any MP could vote to leave on the basis of the White Paper. Might as well look for messages in the tea leaves.

      Delete
  2. Ok. It's pathetic.

    We know that there was no consideration at all given to the possibility that the Leave side might win. Cameron refused to allow any preparatory work by Civil Servants to that end, presumably based on the supposition that he would always win, because he was Eton and Oxford and terribly rich...not to mention a 5th cousin of the queen.

    What members of his Cabinet of the Bretiteer persuasion were thinking by not insisting that some preparatory work be done so that the public could be educated and thus make an informed choice, we shall never know.

    But we all know the result and the utter chaos that ensued. Cameron resigned in disgrace and hobbled towards the big bucks without doing anything at all, and Theresa became prime minister. And to be fair to her it is a hard time to be PM, by by god, she is bad at it.

    David Davis, was appointed Brexit Minister. He should have known something of the complexities of his brief. He had, after all been a junior FCO minister in Major's government responsible for Europe.

    But it seems that he has either forgotten (it was more than 20 years ago) or he never knew pretty much anything at all, except that it's over there somewhere.

    He has had to head up an entirely new department. Heaven knows where they got the staff, but they are all new to the job, and clearly they're not very good at it.

    I didn't realise just how bad they were until I read the ERRORS in their work. The waffle is one thing...pad it out and don't give away the fact that we haven't really got prepared yet. The fact that they don't know what is a regulation and what is a directive,
    or indeed, what the difference between them is, is frightening.

    Ministers present these things. The Civil Servants that draft them are supposed to be professionals. Lawyers!

    It is utterly terrifying that we are in the hands of, or at the mercy of, these people who don't know their remit.

    PS: I read a bit about David Davis, and I found this on his Wikipedia page:

    In 1999 Davis presented the Parliamentary Control of the Executive Bill to the House of Commons, in which he proposed to transfer ministerial exercise of the Royal Prerogative to the Commons in the following areas: the signing of treaties, the diplomatic recognition of foreign governments; European Union legislation; the appointment of ministers, peers and ambassadors; the establishment of Royal Commissions; the proclamation of Orders in Council unless subject to resolutions of the Commons; the exercise of the powers of the executive not made by statute; the declarations of states of emergency; the dissolution of Parliament.[7]

    Strange then, that he would wish Royal Prerogative to be used for his Article 50!


    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The amateurishness of this defies belief. It's as though it was a last minute thing given to the most junior staff. They've been preparing this for 6 months. Well, obviously they haven't been doing that but they've had that long to formulate their plan. I can only really blame the politicians for this because they are supposed to direct the civil service. Is it that simple? Maybe they had to polish a turd and this was the best possible outcome. We'll never know.

      Nice catch about David Davis. Quite astonishing hypocrisy.

      Delete
  3. Kangaroo here. Can't seem to get my gravatar to work.

    Here is a bit of basic physics for all of Humanity.

    Resonance is thenkey to the universe. Just as an opera singer can shatter a wine glass with a perfectly pitched note, so too can we split H2O with a similarly perfectly pitched note. This releases the hydrogen and oxygen which can then be combusted back into H2O. Simples. That is the basic physics that the energy industry does not want us to know. There are plenty of youtube videos where people have done just that. They do not appear to understand why it works. This is the answer.
    There is no need to polute our beautiful planet. Once we have free energy the powers that be have lost control and they know it.

    ReplyDelete
  4. That was my technical writer contribution

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you!

      Technical writing and miracle production all in one. Congratulations, you are now head of Brexit documentation. You will report to David Davis and have the job of turning water into wine and then writing 8000 words about how watery wine tastes better when its from the UK.

      Delete
  5. When you informed us this was to be a long article I decided that was a good enough excuse to have a Highland Park. Slainte!

    Good dissection & saved me the bother of reading the actual white paper. Glad I did, though it clearly wouldn't have taken that much time from my day.

    Something struck me in the section on trade: the paper made reference to the UK's international trade in the "post-war" era. I'm starting to become sensitised to this phrase and its close relative "The War" (always capitalised). I mean, I'm a complete history geek, especially 20th Century military history so I know a fair bit about "the war" these terms refer to but my mother wasn't even born until after VE so shouldn't we be considering that time just a little bit in the past? So many of the britnats seem enchanted by WWII as if that was the last time the UK meant anything or was successful at anything. Surely that can't be the highlight of the Great Britain of ours?

    Hugh

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I knew that one day this blog would drive people to drink.

      I usually see "post-war" as a short-hand for the balance of economic and social policy that govern our lives today. All Western European nations developed a social model not that far from the UK model in the years after WW2. The UK was late to join the EC in the 70s but I'd say that is also a post-war construction. It is kind of useful to draw charts starting in those years. Pre-WW2 was driven by quite a different philosophy far more based on empire.

      There is a very real problem that Brexiteers have brought up the war all over again. Boris Johnson did it recently when he compared the French to Nazi jailers. Even the empire has been a topic of debate - we'll be attempting closer trade links with countries that used to be in the empire. A country without a purpose will look back on its past glories. It's not a pretty sight.

      Delete
    2. :)

      I know what 'post-war' means to those of us of a certain age (and knowledge of history, politics and economics) but if you are a 20-something the wars you think about are going to be Iraq 1 & 2 rather than WWII (if you think of wars at all). We have changed the terminology we use in relation to not-white people, poorer countries and so on, so perhaps we need to consider changing our terms of reference in relation to the development of the social-democratic model too? I think we need to ensure we remember WWII for the terrible tragedy it was but move on from letting it define our society's trajectory in the way that it often is. How about saying 'since the mid-20th century' rather than 'post-war'?

      Delete
    3. I totally see your point. I'm going to start using mid-20th century instead of post-war.

      Delete
  6. I think it as the time that their Empire started to fall apart to be replaced by The British Commonwealth, to be replaced by The Commonwealth.

    It was the last time they were allowed to be important without having to kiss ass with America.

    I think a Highland Park sounds like a brilliant idea. Thanks.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Brexit has allowed people to dream about what they want. It turns out a good number want to bring back the empire. This can't end well.

      Delete
    2. The HP went down very well indeed. But I actually enjoyed the Nikka (from Japan) even more. It is amazing what you find lurking in the back of cupboards if you look hard enough.

      Delete
    3. I've only ever tried Japanese whisky once at a whisky tasting event. It was really rather good.

      Just stay away form the Swiss stuff. Had half a bottle of that in my cupboard for about 7 years now. Drink never lasts 7 years in my cupboard, even when it is horrible.

      Delete
    4. Tonight I am enjoy a Chivas Regal. Nae bad but a bit rougher than I prefer.

      Delete
    5. We all need a drink after the latest round of Parliamentary disaster. I can hardly watch, to be honest.

      Delete
    6. I simply can't watch it, or the news in general. It depresses and enrages me too much! I rely on sites like this (I visit over a dozen Scottish politics ones on a daily basis and other sources in other subject areas) for my news and analysis of important events because they operate at sufficient distance from the raw reporting that my brain is able to cope. That and the fact that there is way more analysis, context and commentary added by writers like yourself that the story has meaning which is often completely lacking from the MSM.

      I can claim a professional level of expertise in several diverse areas of knowledge (I've had a more varied 'career' than most) and what I have found every single time I learn a new subject I find that what is reported in the news is essentially wrong. After the second or third time that happened I came to realise that I cannot possibly trust the news on the subjects I don't have some professional knowledge of because they are bound to be wrong on that as well.

      Delete
    7. I worked for a company a while back that found itself involved in a Daily Mail "scandal". It was one of those "ban this filth" type of scandals that they try to get going in the summer holidays. They got every single detail wrong: names, places, dates, who, what etc. The link between my employer and the scandal was extremely tenuous. Quite extraordinary. They had a photographer outside so they did know where we were but couldn't join that up with the journalist who wrote the article. A few other things around that time made me start to question even the most basic detail of a news story. They really just write what they want to write.

      All news is partisan. This blog is also partisan. I'm open about that but I also link to data sources and try to lay out the process that led me from data to conclusion. That's what annoys me about newspapers: they pretend to be neutral but really they all have an editorial line that isn't open to scrutiny.


      Delete
  7. Long time lurker here, just to say a big thank you for these blogs: compelling and horrifying in equal measure. We are so fecked...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Welcome Gibbothegreat.

      I'm going to make an attempt to more positive in future posts. Right now I reckon we're at peak bleak. Hey, I think I should start a band called "Peak Bleak" playing party bangers with a melancholy tinge.


      We are so fecked, indeed.

      Delete
  8. Terry, you know I'm a big fan.. But I don't think we are anywhere near peak bleak. Keep telling it as it is.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. At the moment I'm speculating on something near the worst of all likely outcomes. I'm still hoping that some kind of common sense will prevail after things start moving along. It could, of course, get a lot bleaker once we see Liam Fox unleashed on the A50 negotiations. I need a drink.

      Delete
    2. I wonder of your imagination of bleak is anything like as bad as mine. An unhealthy interest in military history leads me to some rather unpleasant places. Thank goodness I have another passport to call on is all I'm saying...

      Delete
    3. I'm lucky to live in a country that has never been at war and has no intention of joining in any so I'm not really fearful in that sense. I just foresee a huge door closing and all sorts of opportunities being lost. Life outside the EU will be drab and hard and gloomy. I think that we're at peak because we'll likely soon have the prospect of indyref2. I'm obviously worried about that but having something positive might get us all past this phase of inaction and speculation. There's really been no tangible way out of this mess so far and it's started to affect my mood. Having something positive like a 2nd ref to think about will soon solve that.


      Delete

Bark, lark or snark