Muscular liberalism

Mon 7 – Sun 13 Nov

The time is now for muscular liberalism

arch enemy of liberalismSo I suspect most of us woke up on Wed morning and felt sick. Trump had beaten Clinton, liberalism defeated. Like many nightmares, life is better when you have to face the reality rather than just live with the fear. I suspect things will be bearable indeed they have to be otherwise we might as well all commit suicide. Human beings can get used to everything. Always remember people survived living under the Nazis and Stalin. But that doesn’t make it right. And the biggest thing is always what is lost. America is going to see an attack on abortion and a conservative Supreme Court for years to come. I’m pretty sure it’s going to be choppy waters for non-white people, LGBTs and women.

The future needs a strong centre

another enemy of liberalismA huge lesson from Trump and Brexit, both with narrow victories, is not to go to the extreme. Some people see the hard left as an alternative. Corbyn is not anti-establishment. He’s an old man who still believes in the Soviet Union, is comfortable with the UK leaving the EU, and has been an MP for eternity (prior to that a minor trade union official). What is needed is a strong Centre party, a more muscular liberalism. The Centre party and Social Democrats were strong in Weimar Germany and Hitler was always amazed they didn’t oppose him more. We as liberals need to be more offensive both in fighting harder and calling out our opponents.

Liberalism as strong and offensive as the extremes of left and right

There seems to be a sense that liberalism is about being nice and even-handed. No we need to be as strong and attacking as both extremes. As liberals we need to be willing to challenge things and push the argument. Yes it will get heated and scary but you don’t beat bullies by cuddling them to death.

Three further thoughts for me from the Trump / Brexit nightmare:

  • First, I am tired of hearing that Trump and Brexit are about disenfranchised people getting a voice. Many people make a choice to be disenfranchised. We all have choices, we make our own decisions, and we live with them. We do not have the right to force our fuck-ups on others. If people choose to be uneducated, lazy, and not bother to get a job or fulfil their potential in life then they don’t have the right to make the rest of society suffer for that. A hand-up not a hand-out and ignorance should always be challenged.
  • Second, many (perhaps the majority) of Trump and Brexit voters are motivated by racism. We must call out people for being racist when they are and not choose to excuse it. If you think blacks and hispanics are too ‘uppity’ then you are a racist. If you voted Brexit to ‘take back control’ then add the last bit (‘from all the foreigners’) to admit what you really feel.
  • Third many older people selfishly voted for Brexit and Trump. The baby-boomer generation could well be the richest in history but also the most selfish. They want their cake and eat it. Poverty firmly sits with young people now – note the mountains of debt they have. And the rich older generations have chosen not to share their wealth and create a better world but rather to hoard it and try to force us all back to some halcyon period of their youth in the fifties.


Tech for Good progresses

woman using mobileRegular blog readers will know that I think part of our salvation lies in using technology to do good. Last Fri afternoon we decided our longlist of the best applications to the Tech for Good programme. About 20 shortlisters had worked their way through all c.150 applications. They worked in pairs to look at the info supplied – 100 word summary, 2 min video, one page infographic, and a website address. The longlisted applications will be re-analysed by different shortlisters to get to about 20 to put in a full application. Ultimately 10 grants will be given.

Feedback is that people found this a very efficient way to work. The longlist itself will be placed into the public domain around the end of Nov. The idea being that anyone can look at these so providing publicity (and possibly funding), encouraging similar initiatives to work together, and inspiring people about good things that can be done with tech. This is all in line with what should be the open nature of tech.

Video First

video cameraI think it’s really important that we encourage not-for-profit people and organisations to get very comfortable with video and infographics as well as social media. ‘Video first’ is how the internet is going. And you can do some great stuff with video including showing how things work, capturing people’s experiences, and animating things to make them more understandable. The danger is that we try to control video too much. Innovation and uniqueness come by letting people use video in the way they want in order to tell their story. I’m hoping to be able to release a video very shortly celebrating some projects that used money raised by Russell Brand to create abstinence-based ‘recovery communities’.

Tech4Good Awards and Nominet Trust 100

Tues afternoon I met up with Mark Walker of AbilityNet and also the organiser of the Tech4Good Awards. I would love to work with him more on the latter and we discussed creating a new award to highlight an under-exposed area of Tech for Good.

Last week I’ve also been doing another round of shortlisting on the applicants for the 2016 Nominet Trust 100. This shows the best examples of Tech for Good across the world. I was dealing with the entries that had previously divided shortlisters. For me some very clear cut good ones and some that weren’t particularly innovative. I am looking forward to the announcement of the 100 on 14 Dec. Award winners for 2013, 2014, and 2015 can be found here.

I am also currently working with Nominet Trust and Indigo Trust to commission research on Social Tech Ecosystems in Sub-Saharan Africa. More news on this very shortly.

Useful things to reschedule

AITwo useful things were cancelled last week and need rescheduling. First was a catch-up with our digital liaison at Big Lottery Fund – joined up funders! Second was a session on data awareness linked to the introduction of GDPR General Data Protection Regulation. This comes into force on May 2018. If you use data (or are not sure) then finding out about this is vital to ensure you don’t break the law. TBH, it is about best practice rather than restricting people. And there have been abuses of personal data that should not happen including by well-known companies and charities.

Health and efficiency

Meds renewal

pillsMon to the GP surgery to get my meds renewed before my pre-paid prescription certificate (tax on me for having long-term health conditions and not claiming benefits) runs out. All went well and the GP agreed to do flu jab there and then. Thus saving me having to come back separately for something that literally took 10 seconds to do. Little things like that are the NHS at its best.

Bad news and no jog-run

Two bits of bad news around health and fitness but two bits of good news. First bad news was weighing myself on Tues morning and finding I had put on a pound to weigh in at 13-10. Second was no jog-run on Sat. I woke up and it was pouring down. But I also felt tired. I had gone to bed at 9.30 on Fri evening feeling absolutely knackered. So I decided to have a break. Indeed I spent the whole of Sat drinking coffee, pootering, reading, browsing charity shops, listening to the radio and watching Strictly – lovely.

Gym and swim

swimming pool lanesFirst good thing was the gym on Wed morning. I walked there in pouring rain and dark. Very correct weather based on the news of the US elections. A perfectly decent workout including 5.5km on the rowing machine, about 25 mins. This felt good and was followed by work on all main body parts. Second good thing was a swim on Thurs morn. I really wasn’t sure about thisĀ and even had a coffee and croissant (I normally skip food before morning exercise). But by 10am, I thought I might as well go and see what I could do. Glad I did. All went well and I did 36 lengths in 50 mins. So more achieved than the week before even with the dreaded front crawl for about 5 lengths.

The importance of friends

Caught up with some of my wonderful mates last week. Good to see people face to face though I am of the belief that social media contacts and virtual connections are just as important.

Dom and James

Met up with my old mate Dom on Wed night. Unexpected pleasure that he was with our old friend James. He works nearby and bumped into Dom in one of those lovely coincidences that happen in life. Unfortunately he had to get home to see his new boyfriend (!) so just me and Dom for dinner. Great to catch up with him. He’s now redundant / retired and thinking about his next steps. Though he also is still looking after his mum. I persuaded him to try Rosa’s – a chain of Thai restaurants that comes highly recommended and I’ve been meaning to try for ages. This was a mistake. It was crowded, frenetic, metal plates, and expensive. Won’t be going there again.


Then on Thurs after my swim, I met up with Jamie. We meet fairly regularly for coffee, about every 4-6 weeks. Though he is much better at keeping in contact than me. It is normally him who is prodding for a coffee catch-up. We both enjoy exercise and holidays. Him and his partner have just come back from Gran Canaria. Me plus my other half are off there in the near future. Looks like J has more holidays already set up than me for next year – bugger. Big gap for me will be not going away for a week during Jan to Mar. Somehow, Dave has persuaded me we don’t need to do this / can’t afford it.

Swing It

Sun I travelled to Brighton to see on Mon the two old chaps I keep an eye on. My usual feelings about Brighton. Some great friends there but also some of the biggest tossers I have met during my life. I pottered around during the day. Then on Sun evening I caught up with my mate Rob – affectionately known as Swing It. He was fine. Working hard and looking after his dog. A nice pizza catch-up with a shared bottle of wine.

Books and reading

Notting Hill Comic and Book Exchange

book exchangeI was going to go to the exchange on Mon afternoon to spend some vouchers but instead decided to potter around the charity shops in North End Road (Fulham) after the GP. Picked up some books in Fara and sat to read coffee watching the world go by. I did go to the wonderfully crazy exchange on Thurs afternoon after seeing Jamie for coffee. Used vouchers to buy a lovely pile of comic books, horror novels and intriguing modern works of fiction.

‘Ghost Train’ by Stephen Laws

Spirit linesA wonderful bit of British horror from the 1980s. Set in Newcastle and about a demon that haunts the West Coast train line. You just have to laugh with the idea that all the train problems are due to ghosts and demons. Quite violent and blood thirsty in parts, it’s very similar to James Herbert who was ‘de rigeur’ to read when I was at secondary school. Perfectly entertaining though no shining piece of literature. Particularly pleasant are the memories of 70s and 80s British Rail including carriages with sliding doors, slam doors to get on and off the train (I caught my finger in one once – painful), and smoking in buffet cars.

Dr Who audio adventure:

…ish (sixth Doctor Colin Baker + companion Peri)

A strange story and not the easiest to understand. If I get it right, the Doctor and Peri are at a galactic meeting of linguists and word enthusiasts. There follows the appearance of an alien that lives through words. And also an artificial intelligence that exists via words. A strange celebration of English language which feels out of place.

The Power of the Daleks (second Doctor Patrick Troughton + companions Polly and Ben)

DalekThe audio of the lost BBC adventure that introduced Patrick Troughton, my favourite Doctor. First shown in 1966, it has all the wonderful uncertainty of who is this new person and is he really the doctor? Good innocent fun from a time long ago and an indication of the eccentric Doctor that Patrick would be. And wonderfully old-fashioned, of its time. On a space age Earth colony people use pencils to write on paper, pin stuff to the walls, and slip notes under doors.


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